July a bittersweet month for Ledwaba’s family

Former world champion to be laid to rest at West Park Cemetery

Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. File photo.
Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. File photo.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi

July brings bittersweet memories to the family of Lehlohonolo Ledwaba. Lucky, the meaning of his name, was born on July 27 1971.

Ledwaba later became known as “Hands of Stone” in boxing circles due to how he dispatched opponents, much like the original “Hands of Stone” – Panamanian boxing icon Roberto Duran – did.

On July 24 1983, Ledwaba tasted defeat to Joseph Ramaswe after a streak of 11 wins, eight of them via the short route. Then on July 7 1996, the tiny fighter from Moletsane – ushered to war by trainer David Kgotsane and Maxwell Nondyola – became the SA junior-featherweight champion after dispatching Vuyisile Tinga within the distance at Don Mateman Hall in Eldorado Park.

In 2002, on his 30th birthday, he presented himself with the WBU belt. Now trained by accomplished mentor Norman “Hitachi” Hlabane, Ledwaba outpointed legendary Vuyani “The Beast” Bungu for the WBU featherweight belt in front of a big crowd at Carnival City in Brakpan.

That victory in the Golden Gloves tournament enabled Ledwaba to scribble his name on the list of local boxers who won world titles in two weight divisions, joining Cassius “Shy Guy” Baloyi, another local boxer to win world titles in three weight divisions.

Ledwaba was classy and that was evident when he completely outboxed the 35-year-old Bungu – a former IBF junior-featherweight undefeated champion – with scores of 119-109, 115-113 and 117-111. 

Sadly, Ledwaba died on July 2. He was to turn 50 this month.

The fight fraternity held a memorial service in his honour yesterday. The service for this fallen hero will be at the Naledi Hall at 10am and the cortege will proceed at 11am to West Park Cemetery where Ledwaba will be laid to rest at Heroes Acre.

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