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Nhlapo's death blow to boxing

By Bongani Magasela | 2013-07-09 08:46:06.0

BOXING legend Enoch "Schoolboy" Nhlapo has died.

Also popularly known as "Sgegede", the former SA non-white lightweight, junior-welterweight and welterweight champion passed away on Sunday night after a short illness.

He was 80 years old.

Peter Ngatane, a former boxer and chairman of the Veteran Boxers Association, said Nhlapo was admitted at Lesedi Clinic on Thursday.

"I saw him and I even spoke to his family. I'm told he died on Sunday around six or seven in the evening," said Ngatane, who is also a doctor at the same private clinic in Diepkloof, Soweto.

It is unclear as to where Nhlapo was born but Stanley Sono, the legendary boxing administrator, said they grew up together in the Western Native Townships next to Sophiatown.

"He started his boxing at school under Richard Legoale, who was our teacher at Madibane High School," said the 77-year-old Sono. "Schoolboy was also a talented athlete. He had such a big head but he was a good boxer that you could not touch that head due to his bobbing and weaving stance. His death is a loss to boxing because he was a role model."

Nhlapo's first professional fight was on February 6, 1953 and he won the Transvaal featherweight title in his fifth fight. He added the SA lightweight non-white title on December 12, 1958 after defeating Joas "Kangaroo" Maoto.

He failed to win the welterweight belt from Joe "Axe Killer" Ngidi in 1964, but held on to his lightweight belt, which he defended many times until he lost it to Maoto on May 7, 1965.

Nhlapo regained that belt, which was then held by Levi "Golden Boy" Madi, but lost it to Richard "Kid" Borias on February 4, 1967. They met two months later and Nhlapo reclaimed his belt but lost it to Anthony "Blue Jaguar" Morodi on February 7, 1970.

He won the junior-welterweight strap against Borias in 1971. According to BoxRec.Com Nhapo never lost it. Instead, he won the welterweight belt in his last fight against Mackeed Mofokeng on February 17, 1973.

Nhlapo turned professional in 1953 when black and white boxers were not allowed to fight against each other because of apartheid.