Johannesburg - The four-bedroom mansion where boxing superstar Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala once lived is being sold for R2.3million.
It’s been almost five years since he died and people who used to be close to the boxer don’t know where his family now resides or what happened to his estate.
The 951 square metre house, which boasts two garages and a swimming pool, was listed on Property24.co.za in December with a tagline that proclaims: “Former home of one of our South African boxing legends, Baby Jake Matlala.”
The property in Winchester Hills, south of Joburg, has not been occupied for years following the death of the boxer in December, 2013.
Despite the big interest shown by potential buyers since its listing, nobody has snatched it up. At R2.3m, the house is expected to carry a hefty R22500 monthly bond repayment.
Peet Mulder from Property24 confirmed that it has been on the market for about three months.
Listing agent Ridwaan Cassim from Lencar Exclusive Properties said the Matlala family sold the house about 10 years ago to a client of his, who put it on the market.
A property search by The Star revealed that the house on Kuneni Street was last sold to a married Indian couple for about R1.5m in 2006, and its ownership history does not include the Matlalas.
There were also no other properties listed under the late boxer’s name.
Cassim said as far as he knew Matlala did not own the Winchester Hills house at the time of his death, but he could not say why the Matlalas had occupied it until 2014.
According to media reports, the Matlalas lived on the property until the pint-sized four-time world champion died at the age of 51.
“The house formerly belonged to Baby Jake and it was then sold to my client, who lived in there for some time and now the house is back on the market.
“I’m not sure of the exact date that Baby Jake sold the house, but he did not own it at the time of his death.
“My client owned it for about 10 years,” said Cassim. He refused to name his client.
Prior to Matlala’s death, there were reports that he was broke and struggling to pay for his medical bills, which had amounted to thousands of rand.
Matlala was open about not having a medical aid, but dismissed allegations that he was poor.
Also read: Celebs who died poor
A special boxing bout called the Little Big Man was later organised by Golden Gloves Promotions at Emperors Palace to raise funds for his hospital bills in January, 2011.
It was also widely reported that Matlala’s death had also left his family in debt, resulting in his wife Mapule and her two children moving to another house in Soweto. His various business ventures, including a restaurant at Carlton Centre, which he got involved in after his retirement, collapsed.
He also sold his training apparel on auction and had a stint as a boxing commentator on SABC television. According to a company search, Matlala held a directorship position at five companies.
Matlala’s former promoter, Rodney Berman, said he last had contact with the Matlala family about five years ago and doesn’t know where they live or what their financial well-being is.
Meanwhile, former boxing star and “Rose of Soweto” Dingaan Thobela said a lot of money was made from the proceeds of Matlala’s kit.
“The organisers made good money, even Lucas Radebe (former Bafana Bafana captain) spent a lot of money there. Unfortunately, I don’t know how the money was shared. I don’t know the finer details,” said Thobela.
The Star visited the former Dube Boxing Club which former sports minister Fikile Mbalula renamed after the late boxer in an extravagant affair named “Re-awakening The Giant”, which was attended by American boxing superstar Floyd Mayweather in January 2014.
George Ngwenya, who runs the academy and also trains 18 young boxers, said he last saw Mapule at the unveiling of the gym by Mbalula. “Nobody knows where she is, but I heard that she lives somewhere in Meadowlands,” said Ngwenya.