JUST when top Eastern Cape boxing promoter S'Phatho Handi thought he had closed the year on a positive note last week, one of his many boxers, Stanley Gola, has been killed.
Gola, 32, from NU2 in Mdantsane, died last Wednesday.
Handi said it appeared that Gola had been stabbed to death.
Handi, who staged the last tournament of the year jointly with Koko Godlo at Orient Theatre - where they produced SA's first world female champion, WBF welterweight holder Noni Tenge - said they went to that event unaware that anything was wrong.
"We discovered that he was missing only on Saturday morning. It appears that he got stabbed during a robbery in NU3," said the owner of Enothole Boxing Gym in NU2 in Mdantsane.
Handi handed Gola over to Godlo after realising that he could not give all his charges action this year.
At the time of his death Gola was training at Esisonke Boxing Club in NU8. He had 11 wins (all by stoppages) against a single defeat and was rated sixth nationally in the junior welterweight division.
Gola and Sabelo Jubatha, who dethroned SA featherweight champ Thando Vukuza in the Handi-Godlo tournament last weekend, were inmates at Mdantsane's Fort Jackson Prison.
They served lengthy sentences for robbery but were released on parole in 2007. They were in a rehabilitation programme together, Handi said.
Both fighters then turned professional. Gola won the 2008 Baby Champs belt while Jubatha was the runner-up. He made up for that loss by winning the national belt last weekend.
This year has been an eventful and complicated one for Handi.
It got off to the worst possible start with the tragic death of WBF featherweight champion Ludumo Galada in a car accident in January.
Another of his fighters, Samora Msophi, died from injuries he sustained in a national junior flyweight title bout against Mfundo Gwayana on June 27.