The many shapes of Thobela

2011-05-14 16:57

Dingaan “The Rose of Soweto” Thobela (44) could become the ­second fighter in the world to travel boxing’s ­heftiest journey – from junior lightweight to heavyweight.

The three-time world champion is planning to challenge newly-crowned national heavyweight champion ­Wiseman Dlomo.

Should he face Dlomo in the 86.14kg category, he would be ­fighting after having gained more than 28kg and a ridiculous amount of flab.

And the man who started fighting as a junior lightweight (58.96kg) on June 28 1986, will be the first local to fight 10 weight ­divisions apart.

The only man in the world to fight in all the weight classes – from ­flyweight to heavyweight division – was Frenchman George Carpentier in the 1920s.

Thobela is the only South African who has boxed seven weight classes and won two national titles ­six divisions apart.

Thobela’s dream is in the hands of the no-nonsense Boxing South Africa (BSA).

BSA’s chairperson Peter Ngatane said the return of Thobela, ­particularly in the heavyweight ­division, would certainly excite the ­almost deactivated class.

“Thobela will bring a semblance of respectability, restore pride and excite the heavyweight division,” said ­Ngatane.

“However, he will need to pass a neurological assessment accompanied by a brain scan and normal physical fitness test.”

Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Dlomo seized the crown from Anton Nel on a fifth-round knockout in KwaZulu-Natal last month.

The sweat on Dlomo’s brow has not dried yet, and he is already on Thobela’s hit list. The fat man is confident that even though he will be grossly disadvantaged by weight, he will outskill Dlomo.

The flamboyant Thobela, arguably the most talented fighter produced in South Africa, was known for living the fast life which contributed to his weight gain

Thobela has fought the best in the world, initially winning the World Boxing Organisation lightweight title from Mexican Mauricio Acevez in Biloxi, Mississippi on ­September 22 1990.

He successfully defended the crown three times and subsequently ­relinquished it.

He went on to win the more ­prestigious World Boxing Association lightweight title from ­American Tony Lopez in Sacramento, ­California on February 12 1983.

Thobela ultimately shocked the world after gaining more than 17kg to seize a title from the most respected organisation in the world.

This he achieved by beating ­Englishman Glenn Catley for the World Boxing Council super middleweight crown title on September 1 2000.

Thobela once came in almost 10kg overweight when he fought for the International Boxing Organisation welterweight title against ­Adrian ­Daneff.

Though he stopped his foe in round seven, he could not be crowned because he was over the weight limit.


There are quite a few top fighters who have campaigned in various ­divisions.

They include Filipino Manny ­Pacquiao (flyweight to junior ­middleweight), American Roy Jones junior (middleweight to heavyweight), Canadian Sam Langford (lightweight to heavyweight) and South African Jack Lalor (welterweight to heavyweight).

Unlike Thobela, these boxers naturally developed physically.

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