Baby Jake hits jackpot

2011-01-28 07:28

Money poured in for ailing boxing legend Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala in his tribute tournament at Emperors Palace last night.

Meanwhile, a calculating Gideon Buthelezi hit the jackpot while depriving fellow-South African Hekkie Budler of his IBO junior flyweight title.

It was a case of the boxer shading the fighter in a bout that had the crowd at Golden Gloves “Big Little Men” bill guessing until the judges revealed a split decision in favour of Buthelezi of 118-114, 115-113 and 113-117.

In the process, the canny Buthelezi became a dual IBO champion – already holding the minimum weight title.

But much of the attention among an audience spattered with celebrities was focused on Matlala, who has been in intensive care on three occasions in the past few months while suffering from pneumonia.

The tournament was staged by promoter Rodney Berman as a testimonial for the pint-sized boxing legend and former champion and Matlala was at ringside to thank the crowd who in one way or another exceeded the R500 000 target aimed for the occasion.

And heading the benefactors was soccer heavyweight Irvin “The Iron Duke” Khoza, who contributed a massive R180 000 for a jersey of the successful Bafana team of the 1990s that was signed by the players and President Mandela.

Also in the auction of memorabilia was a jersey signed by the players of Spain’s World Cup-winning side that fetched R30 000.

And sharing the limelight with Buthelezi and Budler was 21-year-old heavyweight prodigy, Flo Simba, who extended his unbeaten record to nine fights while gaining a fifth-round TKO win over a gallant, but outclassed Sting Gondorenda.

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