South Africa's greatest boxer Dingaan Thobela, an amiable human being, has finally retired from the fight game that earned him myriads of admirers locally and internationally.
Thobela, who was nicknamed "Sanchez" during his rise to fame before being called "The Rose of Soweto" by an admirer who sold roses at his fights, announced this two weeks ago during an address to workers at Barloworld in Ekurhuleni.
Thobela and Jeff Ellis went to that company which manu- factures hoisters and forklifts to thank its bosses for bankrolling the two promo- ters' box-and-dine boxing tournament that took place last week at Emperors Palace.
This admirable former Transvaal and SA junior lightweight, WBO and WBA lightweight and WBC super middleweight champion said he now directs his energies into promoting fights.
Thobela has joined forces with Ellis and Allan Young of Knockout Boxing Promotions which is now known as Dingaan Thobela-Knockout Boxing Promotions.
Thobela's retirement is long overdue. His Rose Funeral Parlour takes plenty of his time and he is not able to go to the gym regularly to build a lean, strong and muscular body.
He will be remembered for springing a surprise on February 2 2000 by winning the SA super middleweight belt from Soon Botes. At that time Thobela had no fixed weight division.
He followed up with the lucrative green and gold WBC super middleweight belt which he won with only seven seconds remaining in the 12th round against Briton Glen "Cry Baby" Catley on September 1.
Thobela became the first local boxer ever to fight for and win the WBC belt in Africa. His victories locally and internationally brought traffic to a standstill.
Canadian Eric Lucas heralded the beginning of the end for Thobela with an eighth-round stoppage defeat in 2001. Thobela stubbornly continued to spoil his good name by losing to has-been fighters like Otis Grant (who recovered from a near fatal accident), the unknown Martin Nielsen and Lucian Bute.
In October last year Thobela retired on his stool going for the 10th round against Botes for the national light heavyweight belt.
Thobela was not in a right frame of mind. Three days before that fight his life was saved by bullet proofing on his BMW 745IL. Three shots were fired at him while he waited at the gate for his wife Sandra to bring his gym bag.
The fact remains, Thobela, 42, could have won more world titles and became filthy rich had the looked after his god-given talent. He was not dedicated, thus letting down himself and his followers.