Condolences for departed Vabaza
Zolile "Bonecrusher" Mbityi, the only boxer to share spoils with enormously talented Gabula "Tiger" Vabaza in their epic 12-rounder for Vabaza's SA flyweight title at Orient Theatre in 2001, was emotional yesterday when he reminisced about the good old days he enjoyed with his departed opponent.
Vabaza, 40, from Duncan Village passed away on Tuesday. His aunt, top boxing referee and judge Siya Vabaza-Booit, said her nephew died of a heart attack.
The colourful, undefeated former SA flyweight and World Boxing Union junior bantamweight left-hander retired prematurely in 2006 due to medical reasons just before he challenged the IBF junior featherweight champion - Canadian Steve Molitor - at the Nasrec Arena.
Vabaza, whose blossoming career was guided by top promoter Branco Milenkovic, chalked-up 23 wins and a draw, which was with Mbityi.
Mbityi, 48, a former SA and IBO flyweight and SA junior bantamweight holder, who retired in 2011 with 34 wins in 52 bouts, had this to say: "I heard that Gabula is gone, and I did not believe it.
"We spent good times together during our days as boxers and even when we were no longer in the game.
"I would visit him and other guys in Duncan Village and talk about boxing."
Mbityi added: "He was very strong when I fought him. I am disturbed by his death. My heart is sore."
Vabaza's former trainer Welcome Ncita said: "I could not believe it. That boy was like my own son. I am saddened by his passing."