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Sponsorship for Boxers – the true picture

By: Mawuli Zogbenu
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Ghanaian Boxer Emmanuel Tagoe retained his IBO Lightweight belt after defeating Argentine David Saucedo. PHOTO CREDIT: ghanasportsonline.com
Ghanaian Boxer Emmanuel Tagoe retained his IBO Lightweight belt after defeating Argentine David Saucedo. PHOTO CREDIT: ghanasportsonline.com

 “Boxing is the sweetest jaw breaking sport. Its prized assets, the boxers are fired up from the beginning to jealously guard their jaws while breaking those of their opponents with a fist of fury– Nathan Gadugah (myjoyonline.com – January 27, 2018)

Last Saturday’s boxing showdown between IBO lightweight champion, Emmanuel Tagoe and his challenger, Fernando Saucedo received a mouth watery insurance package from a leading insurance company, thus giving meaning to what insurance is and the need to protect  sportsmen and women, as well as the audience at public places.

As to be expected, I had a few calls from friends who took particular interest in understanding the package and sought to know how much of the huge package was going to each of the boxers and each of the fans. Indeed, some even concluded that the total amount was going to be shared among the audience and wondered how much each person was going to receive!

I painstakingly explained to them that the package may not necessarily involve direct cash but a PROMISE that in the event of any injury or death to the boxer and any member of the audience, an agreed amount was going to be paid as compensation. In fact, I even had to explain that in the highly unlikely event of death involving the boxer and all the fans in the course of the bout, the full package was going to be paid to compensate the families of all the affected persons.

These enquiries keep coming up anytime a gesture of the sort is extended to any sporting event and I often find time to provide some education.

Insurance sponsorship packages
Sponsorship by corporate Ghana has become a critical part of corporate social responsibility objectives, especially for sporting events such as boxing, football, hockey and athletics. Organisations seek to gain extra mileage by associating themselves and their products with various sporting events. For instance, in Ghana, the Milo beverage is synonymous with athletics, while Goldfields and recently the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation are synonymous with the Black Stars. However, the nature of these sponsorships is very often determined by the nature and peculiarity of the sponsoring organisations. The focus of insurance companies for instance may be on how to mitigate the risks associated with the particular sport.

Deaths in boxing bouts such as those involving Americans Frankie Campbell (August 25, 1930), Jimmy Doyle (June 24, 1947), British James Murray ( October12, 1995), Zambian Felix Bwalya (December 13, 1997), British Mike Towell ( September 29, 2016) and the very recent death of Canadian Tim Hague (June16, 2017), injury / death to boxers is quite a common phenomenon and largely seen as ‘part of the game’. In boxing, deaths resulting from injuries in the ring often happen within hours or a few days thereafter. Indeed, boxing is often associated with high risk of injuries as its nature characteristically rough and sometimes fatal!

The true picture
The reality and the true picture of a boxing sponsorship and any other rigorous sporting discipline is that the boxers and the audience did not have to pay any premiums to have these benefits of the amount of insurance cover. Thus, organisers would be saved or waived of some of the costs that would otherwise have been incurred in arranging an insurance policy for the boxers, the audience and perhaps themselves.

This type of sponsorship, which neither involves cash nor products for distribution, only promises a compensation in the event of a specified uncertainty such as injury or death. In the recent boxing sponsorship, this could also be complemented by a direct product or cash sponsorship as typically done by most organisations sponsoring sporting events.

Any claims after the bouts?
In every sports tournament, there is the uncertainty of risks. For instance, there are risks of illness and accident or injury which may require hospitalisation or air evacuation to another country for treatment. However, media reports often assume (and report same) that the cost of treating an injured pugilist is always borne by the state or organisers. Suffice it to say, if there is an insurance policy for the pugilists and / or audience, the cost of medical treatment is directly borne by the insurer. In the same way, where an insurance package is offered as sponsorship, the cost of treating injuries and compensation for death is paid by the sponsor per the policy terms and conditions.

What forms of insurance must be considered
Participating in tournaments, be it boxing or football, can be a daunting task as organisers spend colossal amounts of money in preparation towards them, bearing in mind the associated risks.

Beyond physical and mental preparations, it is imperative for boxers engaging in bouts to also prepare for uncertainties in relation to injuries or even deaths and I believe that is exactly the gap the sponsoring insurance company has taken note of and has filled in appropriately. This is the reason insurance policy for personal accidents, injury, medical costs and deaths are necessary.

Way forward
It is important for insurers who offer insurance sponsorships to various sporting disciplines to also show more interest when it becomes necessary to pay compensations to sportsmen and women in lieu of medical treatments or death. Such events need to be made public in order that the benefits of the sponsorship packages would be adequately manifested. Besides the publicity, these events would also inspire public confidence in what insurance can do for them.

Moreover, individual sportspersons may also take out insurance policies for themselves in relation to medical expenses, liabilities and accidental damage during the period of a tournament.

There are varieties of insurance policies available for sportspersons and officials including investment-linked insurance products toward their typically early retirements! GB

Until next week, “This is insurance from the eyes of my mind”