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Kangaroo's ninth life snuffed out

By unknown | May 16, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Getrude Makhafola

Getrude Makhafola

Joas "Kangaroo" Maoto, a former professional boxer once referred to as "a cat with nine lives" is no more.

Maoto, 72, died on Monday at his home in Zone 4 Diepkloof, Soweto.

Maoto was knocked down by a car in 1980, and never fully recovered from his injuries.

Dubbed the "Kangaroo" because of his kangaroo-style fighting stance when facing opponents in the ring, he became South Africa's lightweight and welterweight champion after he had turned pro in 1953.

He had more than 50 fights under his belt.

Maoto grew up in Alexandra, Johannesburg, and started learning how to box in 1949 at the age of 12.

He did this to defend himself against other boys who harassed and bullied him on the way to school or to the shops. He then fought as an amateur and later joined the famous Dunlop Boys' Club under Andrew Mughabi, popularly known as Mswati.

The late Theo Mthembu, a boxing writer who was once a boxer himself, chronicled Maoto's career in his series, In Search of a World Beater, in the late 1980s.

Mthembu dubbed him "a cat with nine lives" because he survived deadly attacks as rival gangs in Alexandra wanted him to align with them.

A brave fighter at heart, he survived gunshots and countless stabbings from gangs such as the Msomis and the Spoilers.

His daughter-in-law, Tumi Maoto, described him as a loving father who cared a lot about his children. "He will be missed, he loved to take his wife and children on outings and was very protective of his children."

Maoto is survived by his wife Rahab Mapula Maoto, 72, their five children and 12 grandchildren.

He will be buried today at Klipspruit Cemetery.

The service will be held at the AME Church in Zone 3, Diepkloof, from 9am.


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