Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is once more with a great sense of pride and pleasure that we extend our warm regards to you. We greet you at an exciting juncture in the timeline of our democracy where we are just two days post our 25th anniversary celebration of National Freedom Day, and just two days before yet another important celebration of workers day on 1st May 2019.
These critical landmarks of our democratic landscape are significant reminders of a bitter past that we emerge from as South Africans. A past where a simple and basic human right like a right to elect a government of your choice used to be a preserve of a minority. As the nation prepares to go for national elections on 8 May 2019, we too want to echo the clarion call and urge the boxing fraternity and South Africans to remember to go and vote.
After all, if bricks and mortar could talk, this venue we have met in, the Uncle Tom’s Hall in Orlando West, could probably also add its voice and talk about the importance of a democratic right to vote. To persuade you further, it would perhaps also share with you stories it has witnessed, dating back to 1956 when women in the liberation struggle gathered here and burned their DOMPASS before proceeded to the Union Buildings in Pretoria.
It could tell you about the heat it felt and the smoke it choked in when it went up in flames in 1976 during the Soweto uprisings. This, after police brutally opened fire on innocent and unarmed students. On the bright side though, Uncle Toms Hall could also tell you about the beautiful memories of boxing festivities that used to take place here and the big boxing names of legends who used to exchange blows right here, under its roof. It could tell you about the resilience of boxing and how this fistic sport has persevered through the times and stood its ground in the worst times of segregation and repression. It could tell you how this sweet science we call professional boxing defied the odds and united South Africans across the color bar long before the official demise of the apartheid regime.
Just as this venue, the Uncle Tom’s Hall once burned down in 1976 yet rose again to its former glory, our sport of boxing is also rising, day in, day out, to regain its lost ground and reclaim its throne. These names of South African Boxing Awards nominees 2018 are yet another chapter in the stories which shall continue to be told about the resilience of this sport of boxing and its moments of triumph.
As you may recall, it was on 11 January this year when we published the Rulebook and Nomination Forms of these Awards and requested the pugilist family and all South Africans to nominate candidates of their choice in the fifteen (15) categories of these awards. The nomination period remained open for a period of seven weeks until 22 February 2019. We would like to thank each and every one who managed to take time off and make a nomination, thereby contributing towards the success of these shortlisted names that we will be announcing today.
We would also like to thank our adjudication panel led by one of our Board Members and Chairperson of the Sanctioning Committee, Mr. Khulile Radu, for the sterling work it has done to prepare this roll of excellence which we will be announcing today. We understand it has not been an easy assignment because having to select best among the best can never be an easy task. We shall however leave that part to him and his Committee to speak to when they take the floor.
We know that the next major question in all minds is where to from here. We would therefore like to confirm that the South African Boxing Awards 2018 ceremony will take place on 17 May 2019 at Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Gauteng. As usual we are looking forward to yet another exciting evening of boxing extravaganza. As a cherry on top, this year we have arranged for the Boxing Awards event to take place in an official boxing tournament set up.
Further details about that evening of 17 May 2019 will be unpacked by the CEO in due course. Today however is not about that part but most importantly, about recognizing and celebrating men and women, whose names have made it to the final shortlist of the South African Boxing Awards 2018.
We would like to congratulate them and hope that this will inspire them to work even harder. We would like to say them, "through your achievement this far, a generation has already been inspired. Whatever happens on 17 May 2019 and whoever wins the ultimate award in the respective categories you have been nominated in, remember that just for making it this far, you are already a winner."