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Baby Jake back in hospital

SOUTH AFRICAN boxing legend Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala has been readmitted to hospital following a setback to his already ailing health.

Matlala was discharged from Lesedi Private Clinic on October 13 after suffering from double pneumonia for more than a month and had been recovering in his home in Winchester Hills, south of Joburg.

Baby Jake has been hospitalised again weeks after fighting double pneumonia. Credit: Lefty Shivambu

He was readmitted to hospital on Saturday.

CEO of Golden Gloves Promotions Rodney Berman

said, “He phoned me last night to tell me he was back in hospital and he was sounding very down. He didn’t say, however, which hospital he was at or why he was there.”

The four-time world boxing champion and shortest professional boxer, hung up his gloves on March 2, 2002 with 53 wins, 13 losses and two draws to his name.

Recent reports revealed, however, that Matlala and his family had been struggling to pay his medical bills.

Terry Pettifer, publicist for Golden Glove Promotions, said it was “very funny” that no one was being told where Matlala was taken. “The family is being very secretive about this whole thing, they aren’t telling us anything other than that he’s in hospital again,” he said.

Gillian de Goveia, chief operations officer of the civil society anti-crime initiative, Shout, for which Matlala is an ambassador, said she was not aware that he was back in hospital and would speak to the various board members to find a way to help him.

Rhema Bible Church, of which Matlala had been an active member, helped raise funds to pay for his bills during his last stay in hospital.

Berman said they would hold a major gala event in January at Emperor’s Palace to raise money. He added that they were aiming to raise more than R500 000 for him.

“He’s a giant of a man, and probably one of the best-known SA faces close to Nelson Mandela… he deserves our help and support,” he said.

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