Article originally published in the Sunday Tribune, page 3, on May 8, 2011.
MATTHEW SAVIDES & MASOOD BOOMGAARD
Nelson Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi, is being sued for more than R50 million in an American court after a deal to bring the world’s biggest boxing match to South Africa collapsed.
Los Angeles-based boxing promoter Duane Moody claims Mandela approached him to help secure arguably the biggest fight in boxing history, a bout between Floyd Mayweather Junior and Manny Pacquiao, tentatively scheduled for November this year at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto. The fight would have formed part of Nelson Mandela’s 93rd birthday celebrations and would have been announced at a press conference on his birthday on July 18.
Moody claims that negotiations were at an advanced stage but that, at the last minute, Mandela could not come up with the cash she promised.
The case was opened at the Los Angeles Superior Court on April 15, and Moody is claiming damages for breach of oral contract, promise without the intent to perform and negligent misrepresentation. Moody, CEO of Imagine That Entertainment, wants $7.5m (about R50.5m).
Speaking through Michael Lodge, CEO of VisionQwest Resource Group, one of the companies involved in the negotiations, Mandela denied there was any agreement with Moody. The other company involved is Joburg-based Mohlaleng Media, for which Mandela was a consultant.
“At no time was there a contractual or implied business relationship or agreement between Ms. Zindzi Mandela and Mr. Duane Moody,” Lodge said.
It is clear that negotiations were fairly advanced. The event already had a name – “Winter Storm” – and the Nelson Mandela Foundation and the Gauteng sports and recreation department knew about it.
Contained in the court documents are two letters dated March 8, 2011, sent by Foundation CEO Achmat Dangor to Mayweather Junior and Pacquiao. They both read: “We have learned of your intention to participate in a boxing tournament in South Africa later this year. We are also honoured that you have chosen to make this historic event part of the Nelson Mandela International Day campaign.”
A letter was also sent on December 10, 2010, to Mohlaleng Media CEO Mbuso Thabethe.
Foundation spokesman Sello Hatang said they were not involved in negotiations for the fight, other than inviting the two boxers to participate in the Mandela Day activities.
Moody told the Tribune he was approached by Mandela to bring the fight to South Africa because of her dad’s love for boxing.
“Zindzi Mandela and I had an agreement for a birthday present for Mr Mandela. He was an amateur boxer, and there’s a picture of him training with the late Jerry Moloi at Orlando Stadium. I was also involved in getting Mr Mandela inaugurated into the Boxing Hall of Fame for the fight against apartheid. We wanted to bring the fight to South Africa in latter part of November.”
He claimed Mandela came to him with the idea and needed help to get in contact with Mayweather Junior. They met at the Beverly Regent Hotel in February.
“I said I would help and that my cut would be 15 percent of any and all money. We agreed to that. I then called Floyd Mayweather Senior and explained our vision,” Moody said, adding that they met two days later at Mayweather Senior’s house. The next day they met with Mayweather Junior at his gym in Las Vegas.
“This was the first of two meetings with him. We started off with a $20m purse per fighter and that they would get a percentage of the pay-per-view and other revenues. At a second meeting at the gym 30 days later, we came back with a purse of $50m per fighter.
“Zindzi assured me she had all the money in place. That’s the first thing I asked when I first met her. She said to me, ‘Don’t worry, my brother, I have all the money’,” Moody said.
He sent pictures of Mandela, himself and Mayweather Junior to the Tribune from those two meetings.
However, it was not long afterwards that Moody claims everything unravelled.
“I got kicked out of my hotel room in Las Vegas because the hotel staff said the credit card was no good. I called (Mandela) and asked what was going on. This was embarrassing for me. I told them to arrange for my air ticket back to Los Angeles. I got the confirmation number, but was told when I got to the airport that the ticket wasn’t paid because the credit card was no good. I was left stranded at the airport.
“I then found out that Zindzi never had the money to put on the fight. I was furious… I negotiated on the basis that we had all the money. She put me in a bad position in terms of my credibility with the Mayweathers and the other business I’ve done,” he said.
According to court documents in the possession of the Sunday Tribune, the $7.5m being claimed is for revenue based on the 15 percent agreement reached between Mandela and Moody.
Moody claims in the documents that Mandela had failed to uphold her part in the agreement and that she had “no intention” to act on the agreement.
Lodge said that VisionQwest got involved in early January 2011 after being approached by Mohlaleng Media. He said his company represents Pacquiao on tax matters and, therefore, set up a meeting with Top Rank, the company that promotes the boxer, but it was difficult to get in touch with Mayweather Junior’s agent.
“As far as I know, Mr Moody approached one of the team members and said he could get us access to the Mayweathers and that is all he did. There is no merit in his case. He was never involved in any discussion, negotiations, agreements – either written or verbal – regarding a fight in South Africa between Pacquiao or Mayweather Junior.
“Honestly, this is the first time I have seen this happen where a law suit is filed by a non-participant,” Lodge said.
Mohlaleng CEO Mbuso Thabethe said the lawsuit was “the biggest load of nonsense” and described Moody as “delusional”.
“There was nothing in paper with Duane Moody, not even so far as an email. Absolutely nothing.”
Thabethe said Mandela had no powers to reach any agreements. “If there were any negotiations or agreements between Mr Moody and anybody, they would have been with me,” he said.
According to Lodge, the main reason the fight never happened was over money.
Both fighters had agreed to the $50m (R335) purse, but Lodge said Mayweather Junior then demanded $100m (R670m). “This response was unacceptable and we then went our own ways professionally.”
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