FANS mourn Skosana

THE local boxing world is mourning the death of one of South Africa's greatest fighters, Simon "Tsipa" Skosana.

THE local boxing world is mourning the death of one of South Africa's greatest fighters, Simon "Tsipa" Skosana.

Skosana, 54, of KwaThema in Springs, Ekurhuleni, died on Sunday after a short illness.

This former undefeated SA bantamweight champion was well-known for predicting that his fights would end in round seven.

He retired in 1999 with an impressive CV of 33 wins (13 KOs) and five defeats. Skosana failed in a bid to dethrone Bernado Pinango of the WBA title on November 22 1986.

The fight was staged by promoter and boxing emperor Rodney Berman at Rand Stadium.

Berman staged a benefit tournament last year in honour of Skosana, Anthony "Blue Jaguar" Morodi, Enoch "Schoolboy" Nhlapho, Levi "Golden Boy" Madi and retired promoter Joe Gumede. They received R10000 each.

Berman pledged financial support to make sure that Skosana received a decent funeral.

Boxing analyst and Golden Gloves spokesperson Terry Pettifer said: "You are breaking my heart. Simon was a great fighter, puncher and a wonderful person. He was very close to my heart."

Former trainer Archie Nyingwa and retired administrator Stanley Sono were at a loss for words.

Dingaan Thobela, who was Skosana's chief sparring partner for his fight with Pinango, paid tribute to his idol.

"He contributed to the moulding of the Rose of Soweto," Thobela said.

Trainer Themba Zulu, who lived in the same neighbourhood as Skosana, said his death cut like a hot knife through butter, while Boxing SA chairperson Peter Ngatane said he was shocked by Skosana's passing away.

"I saw him at Silence Mabuza's fight with (Yonnhy) Perez in May and he did not show any signs of illness. We are devastated," Ngatane said.

Skosana's sister, Thoko Skosana, said Tsipa's death came as a shock to the family because he never looked sick.

"My brother started struggling to breathe properly last week and we took him to hospital where they kept him on oxygen for three days," a distraught Thoko said yesterday.

"We visited him at the hospital on Saturday and was he was at his joyful best.

"We were all taken aback by his death the following day."

Skosana will be buried at KwaThema Cemetery on Saturday.

The service will be held at the Anglican Church in Encwadi Street at 8am and the cortege leaves for the cemetery at 10am.