The uncertainty surrounding the MTC Nestor Sunshine Boxing Academy has thrown up a new question mark over the long-term future of Nestor Tobias’ dominance and future in the local boxing arena.
Sources told The Patriot that there are doubts over whether or not the seasoned promoter’s days at the top are numbered.
The stable has been well-resourced by telecommunication giant, MTC. But if the past is anything to go by as well as the manner in which MTC dealt with the domestic football affairs, Tobias will have to get his house in order to cling onto the sponsorship which, in essence, has been the stable’s greatest support system.
Tobias enjoys a close relationship with MTC, but it is unclear whether MTC’s future is tied to the stable’s success or to Tobias.
The stable lost some of its top boxers in recent years, with many of those that have departed accusing Tobias of running the stable as a loner.
Some have even accused their former handler of not having their growth interests at heart. Other accusations lie in the lines of not being given a fair share of the monetary benefit from fights.
Despite a dark spell hanging over the stable which has since raised questions over its future, protagonists of Tobias are unfazed by the recent moves, saying most of the boxers who decided to leave are past their prime.
In 2016, former WBO international welterweight number one Bethuel “Tyson” Uushona ended his relationship with Tobias, citing the need to seek for greener pastures outside the perimeters of the reputable stable.
In 2017, the trend continued with former WBO and IBO world champion, Paulus ‘The Rock’ Ambunda parting ways with the stable.
Ambunda became a double world champion with Sunshine before losing his IBO Super Bantamweight world title during a unification fight against Mexican, Moises Flores at Ramatex Complex in Windhoek.
He was followed by Vikapita ‘Beast Master’ Meroro and Wilberforce Shihepo.
Just before Christmas, the country’s former triple world champion Julius ‘Blue Machine’ Indongo also parted ways with his promoter, Tobias.
With the recent move by Indongo to a US stable, Tobias is accused of owing Indongo purse money from the Ricky Burns fight, which saw Indongo capture the WBA super lightweight world title from the Scotsman last year.
After the exodus of Indongo, there has also been legal communications between the Sunshine stable and Indongo’s new stable in Nebraska.
A source close to the stable and the boxing fraternity is of the opinion that those who predict the death of the stable will do so at their own peril.
Basing his reasons on the recent exit of the first crop of the stable, the source said their departure was bound to happen.
“One thing that we are not looking into is that all the boxers who left the Sunshine stable are no longer at the peak of their careers. And it should not come as a surprise when we all know that they all left after losing a fight.
These guys are old and are in the sunset of their careers,” said the source.
Both Ambunda and Meroro left while they were approaching the age of 40.
Uushona will be celebrating his 36th birthday soon, while Shihepo is already 35 and has a pending case of culpable homicide hanging over his head. Both Shihepo and Meroro never came close to becoming champions after enjoying a long spell of humiliating defeats.
At some point, Meroro hung up his gloves, only to emerge from retirement and hopping to a new stable.
They all went to the new kid on the block, Salute Boxing Academy.
“You can see that these boxers are also at the sunset of their careers. It is a fact that his guys realized that their durability is no longer a factor and as such they can no longer demand much from the stable as they would when they were at their peak,” said the source.
In 2015, MTC renewed its sponsorship agreement with the academy to an amount of N$10.4 million for another three years with that deal coming to an end this year.
However, with the negative stench coming off the stable, MTC has made it clear that they will not delve into questioning whether they should cut their support.
“The fact that one or two boxers left does not suddenly make it a bad investment. In fact, we remain extremely happy with our investment given the excellent brand exposure we have enjoyed for the last 5 years. When we announced our sponsorship, the academy had no world champion.
Our investment made that possible and we will not express displeasure just because one or two boxers decided to seek greener pastures elsewhere because the academy is made up of more than 100 boxers,” said MTC’s Tim Ekandjo.
Ekandjo added that based on this year’s plans shared with him and given the ideal world ratings that the country’s boxers enjoy; this will surely be another exciting year for the academy.
Without picking into the details of accusations staged by the boxers who left, the source added that money issues will always exist between an employer and employee.
The source continued by saying that Tobias should get back to the boardroom and trim a way forward for the academy to avoid more boxers leaving.
“It is about time that Tobias realise that the brand has grown bigger than his name, so he should stop treating the stable like his baby.
The man is overwhelmed and every boxer cannot get his attention so he should get rid of the pride and appoint people to do the job.
It is now that time to also grow in structures as the stable grows. Otherwise the same thing will happen over and over,” according to a source.
“We understand that he has sacrificed a lot but he needs to understand that he will be killing his own success if he does not move with the growth of the stable. If it is the money disputes, he should have learned a lesson by now. It is the same with boxers’ contracts,” concludes the source.