Organisers braced for ‘Baby Jake’ fundraiser

2011-01-22 18:27

Organisers of the Night of the Big Little Man, which is in honour of Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala, hope to raise more than R500?000 for the ­ailing former world champion.

Matlala, who is recovering from double pneumonia, is unable to pay his reportedly astronomical medical bills.

According to promoter Jeff Ellis, a galaxy of high-fliers from almost all walks of life will be at Emperors ­Palace on Thursday to support the pint-sized Matlala.

They include soccer personalities Irvin Khoza, Patrice Motsepe, Dr Zolani Mefa and construction company boss Alberto Fogolin.

Some of the companies that have bought tables include Nashua, ­Incredible Connection, Anglo ­American, Taxi Choice, Sport ­Heroes Walk Against Aids, Ubuntu Office Design Contracts and First National Bank.

Matlala’s International Boxing ­Association (IBO) and Old Buck belts will be auctioned at the ­fundraiser.

Other items to be auctioned ­include objects autographed by ­legendary fighter Manny Pacquiao and footballer Ronaldo.

Even when he is down and almost out for the count, Baby Jake still dwarfs his contemporaries.

Never before in the history of South African boxing has it ever happened that a local personality has dominated a forthcoming world ­title fight.

Golden Gloves Promotions boss Rodney Berman admits that all the hype around Matlala has probably taken the focus off the boxers ­engaged at Emperors Palace.

Not much is being said about the headliner, an IBO light-flyweight title clash between Hekkie Budler and challenger Gideon Buthelezi.

Even the heavyweight fighters, big men Flo Simba and foe Sting Chomunorwa, who are battling it out in the main supporting bout, are not getting much attention.

The magnanimous gesture could not have been conferred on a more humble South African icon.

The former fighter with odd ­features is also acclaimed for having a perpetual smile that can instantly melt ice.

Baby Jake is also popularly known for his humility.

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