Johannesburg – Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala was one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport, the ANC said on Saturday.
“The African National Congress has learned with deep shock the death of boxing legend Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala... His passing today (Saturday) is a further painful blow to the hearts of South Africans already shattered by the sad news of the death of the father of the nation – Isithwalandwe Nelson Mandela.,” said spokesman Jackson Mthembu.
Matlala, a former boxing champion, died of a lung problem at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital at 11am on Saturday.
His funeral will be held at the Rhema Bible Church in Randburg, Johannesburg at 10am on Friday.
Mthembu said with his tiny frame and lethal blows that achieved him iconic status amongst South Africans, Matlala demonstrated the greatest that a combination of a good head and a good heart could achieve.
“This is the character that Madiba embodied. He was a small giant; a small dynamite whose impact far outweighed its size.”
He said his achievements were not limited to the ring where he conquered his opponents, but also outside the ring where he worked closely with government and NGOs in support of initiatives to uplift the lives of the poor.
“We are deeply saddened by the untimely death of such an amazing soul and courageous human being.
“We extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his family, friends and colleagues in the boxing fraternity.” – Sapa