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Baby Jake 'taken too soon'

Close to 500 people are expected to attend Baby Jake Matlala's memorial service this morning.

Baby Jake Matlala's memorial being setup at Nasrec Arena on 11 December 2013. Picture: Marc Lewis/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Close to 500 people are expected to attend Baby Jake Matlala's memorial service at the Nasrec Arena in Johannesburg this morning.

Matlala passed away on Saturday at a Johannesburg hospital following complications with pneumonia.

It's a dark day for sport in South Africa as the country prepares to say goodbye to one of its most charismatic sports stars.

Baby Jake Matlala's memorial being setup at Nasrec Arena on 11 December 2013. Picture: Marc Lewis/EWN

The dark auditorium laid with spiral faded green chairs perhaps sums up the mood, which is one of grief and sadness.

The crowd present all agree that Matlala was taken too soon.

Even as the country mourns the death of Nelson Mandela, it must now also say goodbye to the popular four-time world champion.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula is the keynote speaker and will no doubt bring his own flair and razzmatazz to this morning's proceedings.

Boxing legend Brian Mitchell, a close friend of Matlala, will look back at the big little man's best moments both in and out of the ring.

Meanwhile, Matlala's funeral will take place at the Rhema Bible Church on Friday.

He is survived by his wife and two children.