Fighters line up to laud a true South African legend

2011-01-15 18:00

Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala’s life is full of surprises: curving, ­snaking, wriggling and bending.

Matlala’s wife, Mapule, ­confirmed to City Press on ­Friday that South Africa’s ­colossus is doing well.

The news should be welcomed with euphoria after the four-times world champion gave the fighting fraternity a fright.

Matlala failed to attend a news conference being held in his honour at Johannesburg’s Wanderers Club on Thursday ahead of the Night of the Big Little Man event at?Emperors?Palace?on ­January 27.

He had been rushed to hospital for surveillance. He is still recuperating from double pneumonia.

A beaming Mapule said: “Jake went for a check-up and he is ­doing well.”

The conference was like snow – making everything it covers ­beautiful.

Those in attendance included three-times world champion ­Dingaan “The Rose of Soweto” Thobela and Emperors Palace ­executive Vusi Zwane.

Golden Gloves Promotions is on a mission to lighten Matlala’s burden, as he could not afford to pay his medical bills.

Promoter Rodney Berman said: “Even Mr Nelson Mandela admitted that ­Matlala always steals the ­limelight when he is introduced. We are paying homage to a South African great.”

Emperors Palace CEO Bob Yearham said they were delighted to be part of the event, while Boxing South Africa boss Loyiso Mtya added that they were privileged to be honouring “one of our ­giants”.

Two-times world champion ­Brian Mitchell said: “Baby Jake is small in size but strangely he has always dwarfed me when we have been on assignments together.”

Berman conceded that the hype around Matlala had taken the focus off the headliner at Emperors Palace.

The show is headlined by ­Hekkie Budler’s International Boxing Organisation light-flyweight title defence against ­Gideon Buthelezi.

In the main supporting bout, South Africa’s executioner Flo Simba faces Zimbabwe’s Sting Chomunorwa over six rounds in the heavyweight class.

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