Promoter Mnisi to honour three boxing legends

'These guys and many more inspired me'

Jacob 'Baby Jake' Matlala will be honoured posthumously tomorrow night Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
Jacob 'Baby Jake' Matlala will be honoured posthumously tomorrow night Middelburg, Mpumalanga.
Image: Raymond Preston

Three departed boxing old time greats Peter “Terror” Mathebula, Victor “Vic” Toweel and Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala will be honoured posthumously tomorrow night by Jacob Mnisi and Arnold Nododile at Steve Tshwete Memorial Banquet Hall in Middelburg, Mpumalanga, where their J4Joy Promotion will stage an international tournament.

“We did not promote these fighters but we felt it would be proper to honour them,” said Mnisi. “Don’t mistake this for cheap publicity; I have been following this sport religiously and these guys and many more like Sugarboy Malinga inspired me to become a boxer.

“Unfortunately I could not go far. Here I am today with the appropriate platform to show what they meant to me. Nododile did not know anything about boxing, what he knew was that there was 'Tap Tap' Makhathini, Dingaan Thobela and Jacob Matlala whom he watched on TV while growing but I gave him a lesson – the history about boxing and the bug caught him.”

Nododile, who is CEO of J4Joy Promotion, said: “We are honouring these stalwarts today because they inspired a lot of people who are in boxing today.

“Boxers, officials, trainers, managers, journalists, ring announcers, matchmakers and promoters all talk of about enjoying watching these heroes of yesteryear while growing up. Some say it loudly that if it was not for the likes of Nkosana Mgxaji, Bashew Sibaca, Welile Nkosinkulu, Arthur Mayisela, Jacob Morake, Gerrie Coetzee and Brian Mitchell maybe they would not be involved in boxing as they are today.”

Mathebula from Mohlakeng, Randfontein, was the first black world champion, having won the WBA flyweight title in 1980. He died a pauper. Toweel from Benoni was the first local fighter to win a world title – the bantamweight belt – in 1950. He died in 2008.

Despite winning four world titles in two weight division, the pint-sized Matlala from Meadowlands, Soweto, was voted No 72 in the 100 Greatest South Africans poll that was organised by the SABC in 2004. He too died penniless.

Tonight’s tournament features four titles, of which one is a WBF world junior-featherweight championship between Matshidiso "Scorpion Lady” Mokebisi from the Free State and Katie Healy from the UK. Action will commence at 6.30pm.

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