Former South African junior heavyweight champion Freddy Rafferty dies

Former South African junior heavyweight champion Freddy Rafferty. Picture credits: Jeff Ellis
Former South African junior heavyweight champion Freddy Rafferty. Picture credits: Jeff Ellis

Former South African junior heavyweight champion Freddy Rafferty has died. Just days after the passing of revered former referee and judge Len Hunt‚ boxing is mourning the loss of another one of its son.

Rafferty's former trainer Jeff Ellis told SowetanLIVE on Tuesday that his erstwhile charge died of a heart attack at his gym in Empangeni in KwaZulu Natal on Monday.

Ellis‚ who together with Willie Lock honed the skills of Rafferty in Yeoville‚ described him as “a gentle giant”.

"He fought the best fighters in the country‚” he said.

The 80-year old Lock‚ who also guided Peter "Terror" Mathebula from Mohlakeng in the Randfontein to victory for the WBA flyweight belt against tae Shik Kim in the US in 1980‚ could not reached for a comment yesterday.

Born in the Free State 53 year old years ago‚ Rafferty retired in 1997 after losing to Douglass Sibiya at Town Hall in Empangeni. He had won 32 fights‚ 14 losses and two draws.

Legendary boxing writer Ron Jackson said Rafferty‚ who fought as a professional from 1983 to 1997 and won the South African junior-heavyweight title in October 1988‚ was actually born Frederick Horn.

“He used the name Rafferty as there were a number of other Horns who were no relation to him‚” explained Jackson.

“After a short amateur career he made his pro debut on March 26‚ 1983‚ with a fourth round knockout win over Gideon Mketshane.

“In 1984 things seemed to go wrong.

“After fighting to a draw with Jonjo Greene from the United Kingdom in Durban and winning against Weaver Qwabe‚ he lost three fights in a row and this included a return match with Greene.

“In 1985 and 1986 he had three cracks at trying to win the South African light-heavyweight title. He fought to a draw with Sakkie Enslin and lost to Sakkie Horn and Thulani “Sugaboy” Malinga.

“Between 1987 and 1988 thing improved with an upset seventh round knockout win over former South African light-heavyweight and WBA junior-heavyweight champion Piet Crous at Sun City.”

Jackson added that Rafferty then moved into the junior-heavyweight class where he won the vacant Transvaal junior-heavyweight title with a first round knockout over Reginald Mazingane.

In his next fight he captured the vacant South African junior-heavyweight title with a third round stoppage against Gideon Hlongwa at the West Ridge Tennis Stadium in Durban.

"He subsequently lost the South African title to Howard Mpepesi in May 1990 but regained it in a return match four months later.

“Rafferty would lose the title once again when Leonard Friedman stopped him in the tenth round but then regained the title in May 1993 in a return match with Friedman." - TimesLIVE