Baby Jake Matlala was a people’s champ, says Brian Mitchell

2013-12-11 12:10

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International Hall of Famer Brian Mitchell has hailed the late Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala as a great champion who never saw himself as being above the people.

“Baby Jake was a people’s champion who, despite the limelight he enjoyed, never looked down on anyone, including his followers,” said Mitchell today on the sidelines of the former World Boxing Organisation flyweight champion’s memorial service in Nasrec, Joburg.

He also recalled Matlala’s fondness for children who identified with him because of his height. Matlala was 1.47m tall.

Former SABC boxing commentator Dicksy Ngqula said Matlala’s difficulties against Eastern Cape opponents in the early years of his career helped shape him into the great fighter that he became.

Among those was Vuyani Nene who fought Matlala four times for the SA flyweight title. Matlala lost all four bouts.

“Those were exciting times because, out of those losses, emerged a giant with resilience who went on to conquer the world,” said Ngqula.

The funeral service will be held at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg on Friday.

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