I’m not broke, says Baby Jake

2011-01-08 18:54

An angry Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala has lashed out at the media, saying he is not broke.

The four-time world champion, recuperating after several weeks in hospital, complained bitterly about “exaggerated” reports pertaining to his dire financial state. However, he admits that he faces a mountain of medical bills.

Once regarded as the smallest fighter in the world and the oldest in South Africa, the pint-sized former champion said the media exaggerated his condition, making him think he was at the end of the road.

“I know the experience of dying,” said Matlala. “The stress I was subjected to due to my ill health plus false reports that I was broke intensified my plight, making me believe my life was finished.

“I was brutally kicked again by merciless, sensationalist reporters while I was down and almost out for the count and felt like I had reached the end.”

Matlala confirmed that he was unable to pay his “astronomical” medical bills, but attributed this to not having medical aid.

Matlala said: “Just ­because I could not ­immediately pay medical ­expenses did not mean I was out financially.”

When he retired eight years ago, after engaging in 67 paid fights and 19 world-title fights, he said he had made a lot of money and was financially secure.

Matlala was admitted to hospital for a lung infection nearly three months ago.

Golden Gloves Promotions will stage the Little Big Man fundraising show for Matlala at Emperors Palace on January 27.

The main bout is ­between International Boxing Organisation junior ­flyweight champion Hekkie Budler and challenger Gideon Buthelezi.

He is the first local to win four world titles. He held the World Boxing ­Organisation (WBO) ­flyweight, WBO junior ­flyweight, World Boxing Union junior flyweight and International Boxing Association­ ­junior flyweight crowns.

Matlala retired at the age of 40, after fighting as a professional for 20 years.

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