Mike Schutte's final round

2008-07-15 10:33

Johannesburg - Shortly after his friend put him to bed and covered his feet, the legendary Mike (The Tank) Schutte, 57, breathed his last.

Jurg Basson was the last person who spoke with the boxing hero and funny man.

"With the words: 'Ek laaik jou style' (I like your style) and 'Sien jou môre' (See you tomorrow) Mike said goodbye to me," said Basson just hours after Schutte's death.

Schutte died on Monday morning in the Emfuleni Medi-Clinic due to liver failure, thrombosis and an enlarged heart.

"Schutte was admitted to hospital on Saturday afternoon and he died at about 04:00 yesterday morning," confirmed Joe Sandows, the hospital manager.

Battled with his health

Schutte's brother, Pieter, 55, a businessman from Vanderbijlpark, told with tears in his eyes how Mike had battled with his health over the last five years.

"On Saturday, a friend, Susan Holloway, contacted me and said Michael (Mike) did not look well."

Pieter drove to the house of his other brother Ernst, 62, where the former boxing champ stayed in a flat.

"Michael sat like a boxer with a towel over his head and was too weak to stand up," said Pieter.

Pieter said Mike asked him to only take him to hospital the following day as he had not yet had time to take a bath. "Michael struggled to speak and we decided to rather take him immediately," he said.

Pieter helped Mike to put on his shoes and went outside to try and control his emotions. "Michael looked so terrible and I didn't want him to see that I was crying."

Pieter said people often commented on how alike the brothers looked. "Michael always said he looked like that because of the boxing and then he wanted to know what my excuse was," he laughed.

'Fought hard and partied just as hard'

The former SA heavyweight boxing champ on Saturday night said goodbye to his daughter Dalene Doubell, 33, of Randburg and thanked Pieter for his help.

"Our parents died during our childhood and Mike looked after me. Later in life it was my turn to look after him and to nag him relentlessly to look after his health better," said Pieter.

According to him, his brother "fought hard and partied just as hard".

Schutte will be remembered for his sometimes-fierce fights against opponents like Jimmy Richards and later Kallie Knoetze and Gerrie Coetzee.

Mike's son, Pieter, 35, was on his way to the Vaal Triangle from Kuruman in the Northern Cape.

Mike is survived by another brother John, 63, and a sister Edelweis, 53.

Until recently, Mike worked as a store man and buyer at Pieter's business. "It is sad that people so often saw the wrong side of Michael. He was a considerate and determined man and in his heart, he was a good person," said Pieter.

Mike will be buried on Wednesday at the NG Church Driehoek at 42 Macowen Street at 14:00.