Legendary SA boxer Anthony Morodi dies

Boxing legend Anthony Morodi, known to his fans as Blue Jaguar, died Monday morning after a long illness. He was 70.

The chairman of the Veteran Boxers Association Peter Ngatane, said: "I received a phone call late [Monday] afternoon about the sad news that Tony died today". Ngatane was Morodi's stable-mate at the famous Dube Boyz Club in Soweto where their skills were honed by former qualified teacher, professional boxer and Sunday Times sports journalist, Theo "Brown Panther" Mthembu.

Ngatane, a South African representative of the World Boxing Council and a medical practitioner, said Morodi had leukaemia.

"He had been ill for a very long time. I'm told that he died at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital where he had been admitted for over a month."

Morodi, 70, lived with his wife and family in Mofolo Village near Mshenguville, Soweto.

He was born in Lydenburg, Mpumalanga, on February 6 1942.

He moved to Soweto with his parents in the mid-1950s and joined Mthembu's establishment eight years later.

Morodi won black South African titles at three weights in a career of 126 fights, with 95 wins -- the second-highest number of professional victories by an SA boxer behind the 100 achieved by his friend and former opponent, Enoch "Schoolboy" Nhlapo.

Morodi turned professional in 1964 and in 1966, when black and white boxers were not allowed to fight because of apartheid, he lifted the black SA featherweight crown in 1966. The next year he won the bantamweight title.

To fight each other in those days, black and white pugilists would cross the border to neighbouring states, and in 1967 Morodi suffered a pair of six-round points defeats in Maseru to Arnold Taylor, who would become South Africa's second world champion in 1973.

In late 1967 Morodi won the black SA lightweight crown and the following year the SA super-featherweight belt.

He fought with mixed results in Australia and Mexico, but it was his battles with other South African ring legends that earned him a spot in the hearts of ring fans, who would shout "Bluuuueeee" when he was in the ring.

He beat the likes of "Schoolboy" Nhlapo and Happyboy Mgxaji, but was beaten several times by "Pangaman" Sekgapane, a future world title contender. He lost his SA lightweight title to Sekgapane in 1973 and a month later the super-featherweight belt to Mgxaji.

Already considered past his best, he beat Jim Watt of Scotland at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg in 1974 - Watt would go on to become the British, European and eventually the WBC's world lightweight champion in 1979.

Mixed race boxing was permitted in South Africa in the 1970s, but it came too late for Morodi, who retired in 1978 after suffering a one-round knockout defeat to Peet Bothma, a future SA lightweight champion.