WINDHOEK – Namibia’s WBO Africa Featherweight champion Sakaria ‘Desert Storm’ Lukas and the country’s leading boxing promoter Nestor Tobias are entwined in a nasty legal battle, with Lukas claiming that he is on the verge of being stripped off his title by international sanctioning body World Boxing Organisation (WBO) due to Tobias’ noncompliance.
Lukas is promoted by the MTC Sunshine Promotions, which is a promotional arm of the renowned MTC Nestor Sunshine Boxing and Fitness Academy, owned by award-winning promoter Tobias.
As per communiqué between the two parties and also according to recent letters written by his lawyers to the promoter, Lukas and his manager Knowledge Ipinge claim that Tobias owes the WBO sanctioning fees from previous fights and the WBO has in turn threatened to strip Lukas off his WBO African crown.
Lukas and Ipinge further wrote to Tobias to inform him of their intention to terminate the exclusive promotion agreement the boxer has with Tobias’ MTC Sunshine Promotions, failure by Tobias to grant Lukas permission to terminate the contract will result in legal action, Lukas’ lawyers wrote.
In a letter dated May 14, 2018, Ipinge wrote: “Following our correspondence last week, this email is to inform you that l am hereby canceling the promotional contract between yourself and my boxer Sakaria Lukas effective immediately due to your failure to be transparent and honest in all dealings related to Sakaria’s boxing career. The contract is being canceled according to the stipulations provided in our agreement… as previously shared with you, we are very much unsatisfied by the promotional services provided by you thus far which has now led to a point where Sakaria finds himself in an awkward position to possibly lose his WBO Africa Featherweight title and ranking with WBO due to your failure to settle
sanctioning fees owed to them..”
“…thus, as settlement we volunteer in good faith to pay off your debts with WBO with chief vision to ensure that Sakaria and your other boxers don’t get their titles stripped. We hoped to have a good partnership with you but unfortunately your promotional services and business ethics are inappropriate for Sakaria’s career and strategic vision moving forward,” reads the letter.
But recent communication between Tobias and the WBO leadership shows that the Namibian promoter did in fact forward a proof of payment letter to the WBO but the outstanding money was never paid into the WBO account due to technical errors with the local bank.
After the WBO notice, Tobias followed up with his bank to try and sort out the payment issue and the bank wrote on his behalf to the WBO to assure that the funds will be transferred into the WBO’s account once the technical errors are sorted.
In a recent letter dated June 4, 2018, seen by New Era Sport, WBO International/Africa vice-president Leon Panoncillo Jr wrote to Tobias to inform him that the payment of the outstanding sanctioning fees has been resolved and Lukas has been granted an extension of 90 days to defend his title.
Commenting on the issue, Tobias yesterday said Ipinge deliberately leaked confidential information between him and the WBO to the media in an attempt to tarnish his reputation, as the payment issue was simple a “misunderstanding” between him, the WBO and the bank.
“I am well aware of the ongoing witch-hunt against me and their efforts of trying to discredit my good name, but they will not succeed. He (Ipinge) is a manager and Lukas is a boxer, and the payment issue was between me, as a promoter and the WBO. Where do they fit in? He even lied that Lukas was stripped off his title but it was not the case at all as the WBO simply brought the payment issue to my attention and I immediately followed up with my bank, as we speak the issue has been resolved and Lukas was granted the extension. This issue is more than meets the eye, there is an ongoing witch-hunt and there are people who want to see me go down, while others are lobbying behind closed does trying to convince MTC to withdraw their sponsorship to my academy. But they will not succeed,” said Tobias.
As for the contract dispute, Tobias said that is an internal matter and the contract is very clear as to what should happen if one party wants out, adding that it is not an issue that need lawyers but an issue that can be resolved amicably.