President Jacob Zuma has wished retired boxing champion Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala a speedy recovery from illness.
“With four international titles in his illustrious career as a boxer, Matlala is one of the few South African sports personalities who hoisted this country’s flag very high in the world and made the nation proud,” the Presidency said in a statement.
Zuma wished Matlala’s family strength during this period so that they could support him to recovery.
Matlala (48) has been ill since October when he was admitted to Soweto’s Lesedi Clinic with double pneumonia.
At the time Rhema Bible Church Pastor Alan McCauley said the pint-sized pugilist, who hung up his gloves in March 2 2002 with 53 wins (26 KOs), 13 losses and two draws, had spent three weeks at the clinic.
McCauley was appealing for funds to pay Matlala’s hospital bill. He said the four-time world champion had hit rock-bottom financially and that his church was trying to raise funds for him.
“Baby Jake has been a member of our congregation here at Rhema for a number of years and has always helped us to help others through Hands of Compassion, our ministry to the poor.
“Due to his recent illness, he has incurred substantial medical bills, and unfortunately he has no medical aid.
“We have already assisted him with part payment of these bills, but there is still a fair amount outstanding, and so with his consent we are raising funds on his behalf,” McCauley said at the time.
Promoter Rodney Berman announced that he, Emperors Palace and SuperSport would jointly present a boxing tournament to raise funds for Matlala. The tournament would take place on January 27 at Emperors Palace.
Matlala is a former WBO and IBA junior flyweight, and WBO and WBU flyweight title holder.