Nasrec Arena to host Baby Jake memorial

The boxing legend died on 7 December after complications related to his health.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The memorial service for boxing legend Baby Jake Matlala takes place today at the Nasrec Arena at 9am.

Matlala passed away on Saturday morning following complications related to pneumonia.

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

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

He ended his career after having won four world titles.

After his final fight in 2002, he presented his world title belt to former president Nelson Mandela as a token of appreciation.

The Mandela family has paid condolences to Matlala's family.

While thanking the world for their support during a short briefing in Auckland Park on Saturday following Mandela's death last week, the Mandela family paid homage to Matlala.

Madiba's grandson Ndaba said 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."

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."

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

He is survived by his wife and two children.