Government bankrolls Ambunda title fightBy: SHEEFENI NIKODEMUS
THE government is said to have made available N$2 million from its coffers to ensure that Saturday’s WBO bantamweight title fight between Thailand’s Pungluang Sor Singyu and Paulus ‘The Rock’ Ambunda materialises.
The Namibian understands that Sport Minister Jerry Ekandjo urged Cabinet to help with funding to enable the Nestor Sunshine Academy to honour its international commitment.
Ekandjo had not responded to The Namibian’s enquiry on the subject at the time of going to press.
Fight promoter and Academy owner Nestor Tobias was also tight-lipped about the purported intervention by government, which may be contrary to its policy towards subsidising professional sport.
Tobias said they had managed to collect only N$240 000 from their fundraising initiatives, leaving them well short of the N$4,2 million needed to host the fight.
The promoter, who approached the ministry for assistance, maintained that they were hopeful of more substantial investors coming on board before the end of the week.
“For us it is news [that government intervened]. I cannot disclose anything. All I can say is that the fight will take place,” Tobias told The Namibian.
It would not be the first time that the government has funded fights of the Sunshine Boxing Academy.
In 2010, Insight magazine reported that the Academy was awarded N$7 million to stage the WBA lightweight world title fight between Paulus ‘The Himan’ Moses and his Venezuelan challenger, Miguel Acosta, in Windhoek.
Moses, who will also be in action at Windhoek’s former Ramatex textile factory on Saturday, lost the fight and his world title after being knocked out in the sixth round.
At the time, the clandestine sponsorship dubbed a ‘special project’ was frowned upon by many in the sporting fraternity, as the government has a long-standing policy of not funding professional sport events.
However, Tobias said his academy would not refuse assistance from any party.
“Anyone who wants to contribute is welcome. We appreciate everyone who wants to help us,” he said.
Meanwhile, MTC spokesman Tim Ekandjo yesterday announced that they will give N$1,6 million towards the fight.
Last year however, MTC, the Academy’s chief financier, said it would not fund the prestigious fight as it had not budgeted for it.
“There is still a shortfall in the budget and as a sponsor and a responsible corporate citizen we have decided to invest N$1,6 million to make this fight possible,” Ekandjo said.
He said the aim was to help the country to produce another world champion.
“It’s not about the MTC Nestor Sunshine Academy or Paulus Ambunda, but rather about helping Namibia to produce a new world champion,” he said.
Despite MTC’s contribution, Ekandjo said there was still a shortfall in the budget and called on other corporates to sponsor the fight.