A former boxing champion, footballer, jazz musician and ANC exile was given a final send off in the Netherlands on Thursday.
Darius Mfana Temba Dhlomo, born in Kranskop, east of Greytown, in 1931, became the first black South African cruiserweight champion in 1956. Under apartheid laws he was restricted to fighting in blacks-only boxing contests.
But there were few limits to Dhlomo’s talents. Alongside his boxing career, he captained both the Baumannville City Black football team and the Natal National football team.
He also sang in a jazz quintet and Drum magazine published a feature article titled, “Darius Dhlomo, Man of many talents.”
In 1958 he moved to the Netherlands, having signed a professional football contract with Heracles Almelo joining Steve “Kalamazoo” Mokone, the first black South African to play in European leagues.
Dhlomo died on June 13 in the Netherlands. His funeral service was beamed live via satellite to members of the Dhlomo family, who had gathered at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre on Thursday.
He was cremated and his remains will be sent to South Africa for burial.
Despite success abroad, Dhlomo’s role as an activist for the ANC meant he was not allowed to return home.
The funerals of his parents, two brothers and two sisters were all held in his absence, while he was in exile.
He settled in Enschede, in the Netherlands, and later worked as a teacher, social worker and politician – contributing to the anti-apartheid movement.
He received permission to return to South Africa in 1992 and met Nelson Mandela.
He leaves behind five children. – Additional reporting by Mphathi Nxumalo