Mandela family remembers Baby Jake

The former boxer died on Saturday morning at the age of 51.

Four times boxing world champion Baby Jake Matlala. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - As condolences for boxing legend Baby Jake Matlala pour in from around the world, South Africa's foremost political family has also reached out in sympathy.

While thanking the world for their support following the death of Nelson Mandela at a short briefing in Auckland Park, the Mandela family paid homage to Matlala.

In 2002, the boxer presented Mandela with his world title belt as a token of appreciation.

Madiba's grandson Ndaba says although they're in their own period of grief, they share the Matlala family's pain.

"As we mourn for our grandfather, it has also come to our attention that another hero has passed away. On behalf of our family we'd like to send our condolences and heartfelt message to Baby Jake's family."

Gauteng's sports MEC Lebogang Maile also sent condolences to Baby Jake's family.

He says South Africa now has to mourn the deaths of two great people.

"We'd like to send our deepest condolences to the family, and unfortunately he passes on at the time when the country is still mourning the loss of President Nelson Mandela."

Matlala passed away on Saturday morning at the age of 51.

The former World Boxing Organisation, World Boxing Union (WBU) and International Boxing Association flyweight world champion had been admitted to hospital on numerous occasions over the past few years with complications related to pneumonia.

Baby Jake started his professional boxing career at the age of 18, and was the shortest boxing world champion at only 1.47m tall.

He ended his career after having won four world titles. He is survived by his wife and two children.

Promoter Rodney Berman, who managed him for five years starting with a win over Mickey Cantwell in 1997, said, "Baby Jake was one of the most successful fighters I've ever had and one of the most popular fighters South Africa's ever seen. It's a great shock."


Total fights: 68 with 53 wins and 2 draws.

The funeral will be held at Rhema Bible Church on Friday.