THE boxing fraternity is mourning the death of Mlungisi "The Shark" Dlamini.
Dlamini, from Esikhawini on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast, died at Manapo Hospital in Qwa-Qwa on Friday night after a head-on collision in Bergville in the Drakensberg. The passenger in his car died on the spot.
Dlamini, who turned 28 on Friday, held the WBF and IBO lightweight titles. His fighting prowess was honed in Gauteng by Warren Hulley, while his career was managed by his father Mboneni.
Former world champion Dingaan Thobela, who was Hulley's stablemate at Norman Hlabane's gym, yesterday lamented the death of the talented boxer.
"Warren asked me to bring my WBC belt to his gym where he wanted me to motivate Dlamini. I did that and even allowed Dlamini to go home with my belt. He brought it the following day and promised to win one for himself," Thobela said.
"He won the WBF and IBO belts and I was happy realising that he was gradually moving in the direction of the WBC.
"I'm saddened by his death because he had not fulfilled his ambition."
Trainer Nick Durandt said: "I still cannot believe that we have lost such a talent in boxing. He proved his worth and was still going to surprise us. His death has left a gap ing void in boxing."
Boxing SA's acting chief Loyiso Mtya said Dlamini will be remembered for his talent, respect and sheer dedication to the fistic sport.
Golden Gloves publicist Terry Pettifer described Dlamini's death as a "big blow" to South African boxing".
Golden Gloves exposed Dlamini to the international boxing arena in 2007.
Dlamini was earmarked to challenge WBA champion Paulos Moses, who is managed by Thobela.
His career took off when his former promoter Thinus Strydom organised the WBF title fight for him on March 3 2007. Dlamini stopped Ivan Orlando Bustos in five rounds and defended the title four times before adding the IBO strap on October 31 last year, when he stopped Zolani "Untouchable" Marali in the third round.
Hulley said a memorial service for the fighter will be held at Ellis Park gym at 6.30pm tomorrow.