Laud wily Mthembu
Whoever is in charge of
selecting inductees to South Africa's Hall of Fame should make amends by including the name of Theo "Black Panther" Mthembu in the list.
I heard lots of positive testimonies during his funeral last week and that left me with one thing on my mind:
The selectors left Mthembu's name out because they could have been like me, they did not know much about this bespectacled gentleman of integrity.
Big-name boxing personalities such as Stanely Sono, Len Hunt, Mzimase Mnguni and Peter Ngatane all brought tears to my eyes when I watched them talk on TV about bab'uMthembu.
They talked highly of him. They said anything he touched turned into gold, adding that he was not only a trainer and manager, but also a father to them.
I was not aware that uMvelase, my home boy from KwaZulu-Natal, was this demigod.
I was touched. I have always regarded him like any other former fighter who wanted to impart the knowledge he gained from the sport.
He restored confidence and self esteem in Jacob Matlala, who had hated himself for being a whipping boy for Eastern Cape fighters.
Matlala was a joke. Short, scruffy hair and ugly. But Mthembu guided him to winning the South African junior and WBO fly, WBO, IBA and WBU junior flyweight titles.
Today Matlala is a married father of two boys who is assumed to be a millionaire - thanks to the astute Mthembu, who was the chief negotiator for Matlala' purse monies.
I discovered in my research that the accomplished yet humble-mannered Mthembu had done so much for boxing. That included facing the guillotine - he confronted the old regime for unified boxing in South Africa.
I say it is still not late for the powers that be to include his name in the Hall of Fame.