Boxing mourns Botes

Former boxer Martin Botes.
Former boxer Martin Botes.

Popular former bantamweight professional boxer Martin Botes has died, Sowetan was informed yesterday.

Pint-sized Botes, nicknamed "Soweto" because he was trained by Sy Mashinini at Nancefield men's hostel in the township, was found dead in Newlands, south of Johannesburg, on Monday afternoon.

It is alleged that Botes lived on the streets of Newlands and that the former fearless warrior who fought top names including Mveleli Luzipho, Fransie Badenhorst and Derrick Whiteboy before retiring on March 14 1988, had a drinking problem.

Andries Otto, who boxed with Botes in the amateur ranks, said for a while he looked after Botes "because he had no place to stay".

"After his sister who stayed in Germiston passed away in March, Martin just went heavy in drinking and I had not been seen for four months," he added.

"It was only him and his sister who were still alive. I think her death hit him so hard because she was helping him financially."

Botes, who fought his first professional bout on March 2 1981, chalked up 19 wins against 13 losses and six draws.

Boxing SA chairperson Peter Ngatane said: "Botes fought like an African boy. His style and support in Soweto was very good. Botes was more at home in Soweto than in the suburbs.

"When I look at Hekkie Budler, in terms of popularity beyond the colour line, I think of Botes.

"May his soul rest in peace."