Boxing referee and judge Freddy Makhathini (61), revered in the Free State and South Africa, has passed on. He succumbed to illness last Saturday (17/08). He had been battling ill health in recent months.Messages of condolences from the boxing fraternity have been pouring in for the departed referee. Most of the role-players expressed shock over Makhathini’s death.“He was ever present at tournaments staged in the Free State.“We lost a dedicated servant of the sport of boxing in Makhathini,” said Lebohanga Mahoko of Dream Team Boxing Promotions in Bloemfontein. “He officiated in some of our memorable boxing tournaments such as the famous 2011 title defence of Doctor Ntsele against the late Anele Makhwelo, in the 2013 heavyweight title fight between Anton Nel and Hein van Bosch, and the 2017 heavyweight title fight between Osborne Machimana and Justice Siliga. “At Free State Dream Team Boxing Promotions, we are deeply saddened by this loss. We pass our deep condolences to the family and friends of Makhathini. May his soul rest in eternal glory.”Makhathini is one of the longest serving referees and judges to serve boxing in this country in both professional and amateur rank dating back from the 1970’s. Known as Fred, he cut the teeth in the sport as a youngster in the 1970’s in his hometown of Bethlehem in the Free State, and graduated in the sport to serve as an official. His passion for the sport, saw him take up the role of trainer-manager, mentoring upcoming boxers. Makhathini was very passionate about boxing which remained his first love. His ability and knowledge of boxing saw him officiate in the ring as referee and judge in several national and international fights, distinguishing himself in every aspect. He remained humble despite his accomplishments in the sport.Veteran and retired journalist Moeti Molelekoa described Makhathini as a true boxing ambassador for the Free State and South Africa. “I have known Makhathini as an ambassador of boxing in the Free State and he contributed hugely in the unearthing of world-class boxers like Dan Mapanya, ex-SA middleweight champion, David Moyeye, former FS featherweight champion, and Peter Mgojo, former SA middleweight champion. “He was a gentleman, dedicated family man and approachable as well as a soft-spoken fellow,” said Molelekoa.Makhathini was still active as referee and judge serving Boxing South Africa (BSA) at the time of his death. In boxing circles he earned himself the nickname Tap Tap, inspired by the boxing prowess of South African legendary boxer Elijah ”Tap Tap” Makhathini, former South African champion in the super middleweight division between the 1970’s and 1980. Freddy Makhathini worked for several years for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development Justice Department in Welkom as a court interpreter and held the position of manager on retiring last year. Makhathini will be laid to rest on Saturday (24/08) in Welkom.