FILE - Peter Mathebula celebrates after winning a fight. Photo: Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Peter "Terror" Mathebula, South Africa's first black world champion boxer has died, his family confirmed.

His sister Dianah Tlhale told local news broadcaster SABC that the 67-year-old had died in hospital on Saturday evening.

Mathebula was best known for beating then favourite South Korean Tae Shik Kim, in the World Boxing Association (WBA) flyweight championship in 1980 in Los Angeles.

At the time, South Africa was segregated by race and black citizens were mostly barred from participating in national sports. Sanctions against South Africa also prevented its sports teams from competing in some international tournaments.

In a tribute, boxing historian Ron Jackson wrote on local broadcaster SuperSport's website that a deal had to be struck with the Korean Boxing Commission for the fight to be held in Los Angeles, after the South Africans were denied visas.

After leaving South Africa almost unnoticed to go and fight the Korean champion, "Mathebula received a hero's welcome in Johannesburg" on his return, Thompson wrote.

He said the win had earned Mathebula a special place in South African history.