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Minister for Youth and Sports

Nasoqo House Wednesday
Suva 10 May 2017

Permanent Secretary Youth and Sports;
Newly appointed board members of the Boxing Commission of Fiji;
Invited guests, Members of the Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Bula vinaka, Namaste, and Good Afternoon to you all.

I thank everyone for making it to this announcement this afternoon, one which everyone has been looking forward to, especially all boxing stakeholders in Fiji.

Ladies and Gentlemen and members of the media, today you will get to meet the newly appointed board members of the Boxing Commission of Fiji. Their selection has been a through a thorough and transparent process and we appreciate their willingness to contribute to the growth of boxing in the country.

The new BCF board members will be led by Mr Bulutani Mataitawakilai and they are:
1. Usman Ali who provides continuity from the previous Board
2. Abhisakh Kumar who will provide financial expertise to the Board which, I have no doubt, will be in big demand
3. Dr Warren Thaggard whose medical background will help both the Board and more importantly the boxers
4. Aminiasi Vulaono who has legal expertise which, I hope, will not be required by the new Board

The Board will further be advised by Faiyaz Khan, JP who has expertise in professional boxing from New Zealand as well as Fiji. We hope he will help our Board to get fully operational in the shortest possible period of time.

As you can see, we have looked for a range of expertise to work with the promoters, managers and boxers themselves but importantly, to work independently in the best interests of the sport. By its nature, professional boxing can generate conflicts of interest which need to be managed and I am confident this Board institute a robust good governance framework for its operations.

Boxing was a popular sport in Fiji but has lost its way recently. The re-establishment of the Boxing Commission of Fiji sets the stage for a well-run organisation which promotes professional boxing and the regulatory framework within which the health and well-being of boxers are protected. This is the responsible way forward and I have asked the Board to address them as a matter of urgency. Boxers’ welfare should always be paramount. Government and the BCF will partner to ensure that holistic policies are designed and enforced to safeguard everyone involved in the sport.

The BOXING COMMISSION OF FIJI PROMULGATION 2008 was amended in 2015 to remove Section 21, among others, which states ‘The Commission may, by regulation, establish the Amateur Boxing Association of Fiji to be operated in accordance with the AIBA Articles and Rules.’

The sports of amateur and professional boxing co-exist independently but can generally be seen as two sides of the same coin. We need only look at boxing history which continues to show that nothing prepares a future champion in the professional ranks like a solid foundation and years of experience in the amateur ranks. This path has been walked by international icons in the sport such as Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, Lennox Lewis, Sugar Ray Leonard and Floyd Mayweather, whilst locally, we need only look to the great Sakaraia Ve and Ratu Pauliasi. The challenge is in establishing the measures and criteria that must be met before amateurs turn professional. This applies to both male and female boxers and I look forward to witnessing the development of women’s boxing in Fiji.

We congratulate the new Board members on their appointment and this news will certainly be welcomed by promoters and boxers alike. We certainly look forward to watching several exciting boxing events soon as a strong indicator of the revival of the sport in Fiji.

Vinaka. Dhanyavaad. Shokran.