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‘Golden Boy’ Johnny du Plooy dies

Published Apr 12, 2013

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Johannesburg – Johnny du Plooy, touted as "The Golden Boy" of South African boxing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, died Friday morning aged 48 after suffering from a recurring heart problem.

"He was in the forefront of South African boxing in an era when the top heavyweight fighters were celebrities like the soccer, cricket and rugby stars," boxing trainer Nick Durandt said.

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"Everyone knew who Johnny du Plooy was. I visited him in hospital a couple of months ago after he had suffered a heart attack and he was pretty bad at the time.

"He seemed to make a recovery and his death comes as a shock. He will be missed by all in South African boxing circles."

A South African amateur champion for several years, Du Plooy soon caught the imagination of the boxing public after turning professional --although his burgeoning career was halted when he suffered a knock-out defeat against former world champion Mike Weaver.

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Weaver had also accounted via a knockout of South Africa's own world heavyweight champion, Gerrie Coetzee.

But Du Plooy came back and sensationally knocked out Weaver in the early rounds of a return bout.

In one of Du Plooy's most celebrated fights, he came within a whisker of knocking out bitter rival Pierre Coetzer in the first round of a grudge confrontation.

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But Du Plooy dropped his guard prematurely in the second round and was knocked out himself.

Although the torrid contest lasted only a couple of rounds, it was voted South Africa's "Boxing Fight of the Year."

In all, Du Plooy won 27 of his 33 professional bouts, losing five times and drawing once.

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After retiring as an active fighter, he kept a close connection with boxing through opening his own gym in Johannesburg and trained a stable of boxers.

But he was largely inactive during the past two years because of failing health.

"He never quite fulfilled the hopes of becoming a world champion," Durandt added.

"But he fought some of the top heavyweight boxers of his time. He was a credit to the sport and will be sadly missed following his death at a relatively young age." – Sapa

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