Fans pay tribute to Baby Jake

Baby Jake (Gallo Images)
Baby Jake (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - Sport24 readers have paid tribute to former boxing world champion Baby Jake Matlala after his passing at the age of 51.

GALLERY: Baby Jake in pictures

The 1.47m tall light-flyweight champion was a potent symbol of reconciliation in post-Apartheid South Africa, where his fortunes were keenly followed.

Matlala won titles under three different sanctioning bodies, the last of which at the age of 42 was watched ringside by former SA president Nelson Mandela.

A keen boxing fan, Mandela died on Thursday aged 95.

Matlala, who retired because he said he had "run out of small people to fight", had suffered from poor health and money problems in recent years. Benefactors raised funds to pay his medical bills and other debts.

This is what Sport24 readers had to say about Baby Jake:

"Another Hero. He was the most marvellous of small men I knew of. Rest in Eternal Peace, Baby Jake. Sincere condolences to his family and loved ones." - Alicia Louise

"Very, very sad. I loved and respected the little man. Not only did he excel as a sportsman, he also excelled academically. He had a BCom degree." - Wouter Swannie the Pirate Swanepoel

"Really sad, another big man gone! RIP Mr. Matlala." - Maarten Slabbert

"I was once privileged meet Baby Jake. What a nice friendly guy. So sad to hear of his passing. RIP Baby Jake." - Bruce Gatland

"RIP Baby Jake,a giant of a man." - Kenny Grass

"This had Been a real Sad week for South Africa. RIP the spirit of Baby Jake." - Sibusiso Muzi Mkhize

"RIP champion." - Darren Roberts

"Eish..... just when we were still in mourning. RIP champ." - Elias Mkhwevo

"RIP Baby Jake you were an inspiration to many. Condolences to your family." - Ann Ornelas

"Baby Jake was a champion and inspiration to many youngsters, and his death is a loss to all South Africans." - Chris Summers

"Baby jake sorry condolennce to matlalas family we will remember him as great champion the shortest champion in the world he was true legend." Mugau Thomas

"The man who gave his championship belt to sad." - Rali Sydney

"Very very sad. He might have been small but was a giant in the boxing world and what an awsome person. Will miss you Baby Jake. RIP. :-(" - Anthony CB Lintvelt
"..with Madiba is gonna be a "heaven of boxing". Condolences to the family." - Yondela Yhowa Valela

"A champ in and out of the ring." - Binne Goed

"May your soul, rest in peace Baby Jake represented SA in the boxing fratenity with agility, though, you have gone too soon, but, you have made us proud. You will missed. Rest in peace Qhawe." - Siphiwe Khuzwayo

"What a sad month for the south africans and the world.lala ngoxolo baby jackes matlala we will always miss u.mfowethu." - Themba Buek Bevu

"Mandela needed a sparing partner! RIP Baby Jake!" - Sindisa Banzana

"Rest in peace Jacob ''Baby jake'' Matlala, u'll always be remembered wth ur fist of storm
lala ngoxolo. This festive season seems to be a mourning season." - Kideo Lucas

"Sad indeed, our legends passing on one after the other. May your soul rest in peace Champ!" - Zakes Seema

RIP Baby Jake (Gallo Images)

Family, friends and fans of Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala are invited to share their memories and tributes, and to light a candle for him, on his profile at

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