Thobela wants his belt

2010-12-05 16:19

By the time he receives his World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight belt it will be like throwing a lifebelt to a shipwrecked man after he has reached safety.

That is how insignificant the belt could be to Dingaan “The Rose” Thobela, who has waited more than 17 years for it.

But he three-time world champion said he values his prize so much he is prepared to wait even if it takes a lifetime to get it.

The man who then possessed lightning-fast reflexes seized the crown from the equally competitive American, Tony “The Tiger” Lopez, at Sun City in 1993.

Employing the right uppercut, the nucleus of his arsenal in his hayday, the Soweto fighter electrified the packed arena when lifting the belt.

Thobela said the belt was not available at the venue and his rival graciously handed him his so that the new champion could parade in the ring with it.

“I have been asking Stan Christodoulou (WBA’s regional advisor in Africa) about the belt until my voice went hoarse.

“All I am getting are promises ... promises?... and promises.

“I worked very hard for the fight and I desperately need my belt. I am proud of winning that belt because my victory unified South African blacks and whites.”

Christodoulou disputes Thobela, saying the belt was available in the ring but was impounded by Gerrie Coetzee, the promoter who “hijacked” the title fight from compatriot ­Rodney Berman.

“There was a misunderstanding about the belt,” said Christodoulou. “Coetzee clutched the belt after the fight and it has since disappeared.”

Christodoulou, the man who has refereed and judged 176 world title fights, said he has ordered a new belt for Thobela and it will be handed to him some time in January.

Coetzee, who beat Michael Dokes to capture the WBA heavyweight title, could not be reached for comment.

The gold-laden championship belts are highly coveted and held in awe.

They are perceived as highly prestigious and perhaps as important as a Service Medal in military service.

Thobela, who initially won the World Boxing Organisation lightweight title, shocked the world after gaining 17kg and ridiculous amount of flab 10 years ago.

He seized the most credible crown, a World Boxing Council super middleweight title, from Briton Glen Catley in a 12th round knockout.

Thus he proved wrong the critics who had written him off due to his extraordinary escapades out of the ring.

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