Baby Jake's service underway

Baby Jake (Gallo Images)
Baby Jake (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The memorial service for former SA boxing legend 'Baby Jake' Matlala has started at the Nasrec Arena.

GALLERY: Baby Jake in pictures

Matlala passed away on Saturday morning following complications related to pneumonia. He was 51.

Baby Jake began his professional boxing career at the age of 18, and was the shortest world champion, standing at 1.47m tall.

Matlala 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, who 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.

Matlala's funeral will take place at the Rhema Bible Church on Friday.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

Zapiro cartoon (via Twitter)

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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