May Day holds bad memories for former boxing champ Brian Mitchell

Former world boxing champion Brian Mitchell with the mother of late boxer Jacob Morake, who died in 1985. / supplied
Former world boxing champion Brian Mitchell with the mother of late boxer Jacob Morake, who died in 1985. / supplied

International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee Brian "The Road Warrior" Mitchell says May 1 is the day he wants to forget.

That's because it reminds him of the controversial loss - his only defeat in 49 fights - he suffered to Jacob "Dancing Shoes" Morake. The points decision defeat for the Transvaal junior lightweight title took place at KwaThema, Springs, on May 1 1982.

"If judges were kind to me I would not have lost it; I thought I won it. Me and Jake had good fights which were all championship fights," said the 58-year-old retired boxer.

Mitchell said the loss to Morake from Central Western Jabavu in Soweto served as a wake-up call to him.

"I was undefeated after six fights and I was getting cocky. That loss made me commit myself more," said the man who visited Morake's mother two years ago and gave her some money.

She motivated him to continue with the sport of boxing when Mitchell wanted to quit after Morake's death a day after their fourth fight at Sun City on November 2 in 1985.

An exhausted Morake collapsed in his corner after taking punishment in round 12 for the SA tile. He was rushed to Lady Dudley Hospital in Pretoria and he died the following day at the age of 30.

Mitchell - who defeated Morake three times in their four fights - went on to win the WBA belt at Sun City on September 27 in 1986 after stopping defending champion Alfredo Layne.

Mitchell defended his belt 12 times and added the IBF belt which he won from American Tony Lopez in 1991.

His 12 defences for the WBA belt under difficult circumstances outside SA earned Mitchell the nomination and ultimately induction to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York, in 2009.

Mitchell then hung up his gloves in 1995 with 45 wins, 21 knockouts, a draw and a loss. He retired undefeated as the WBA and IBF champion and became a trainer honing the skills of many fighters including Mikey Schultz.

Mitchell produced two champions in Martin Jacobs (SA lightweight) and Namibian Harry Simon (WBO junior middleweight).

Mitchell now works as a boxing commentator for SuperSport, and is also a publicist for Golden Gloves.

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