Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Jacob Matlala
Jacob "Baby Jake" Matlala (born August 1, 1962 in Meadowlands, Johannesburg) was a South African boxer and junior flyweight champion. In 2004 he was voted #72 in the "100 Greatest South Africans" poll organized by SABC.
At the age of ten Matlala started going to the gymnasium with his father who was an aspiring boxer. He turned professional in 1979, and began his boxing career on February 2, 1980 with a fourth-round victory over Fraser Plaatjie in Port Elizabeth under the guidance of Theo Mthembu.
It only took him four contests to become South African Junior Flyweight Champion. Vuyani Nene later dethroned him for the title. The pint-sized boxer fought Davie McCauley for the International Boxing Federation (IBF) flyweight title in Belfast, Northern Ireland and failed in his attempt, suffering a 10th round knockout. He finally succeeded when he defeated Pat Clinton in his hometown Glasgow for the World Boxing Organisation (WBO) flyweight title. He surrendered his title to Alberto Jiminez, who stopped him in the 10th round in Hammanskraal.
On July 19, 1997 against all odds, Matlala defeated Michael Carbajal in Las Vegas, USA for the International Boxing Association (IBA) flyweight title. He later relinquished it to challenge Hawk Makepula for the vacant WBO junior flyweight title. The fight ended in disappointment for Matlala, who lost.
For the second time in his career he suffered two defeats in succession when his former sparring partner, Peter Culshaw defeated him on points for the World Boxing Union (WBU) flyweight title. In February 1999 Matlala claimed the vacant WBU flyweight title.
In 1999 a scandal surfaced that Matlala had allegedly raped Julia Mnyamezeli, an aspiring gospel singer and family friend. It was also alleged that she and her husband demanded 2 million rands for damages and emotional trauma they suffered only for the figure to be reduced to R250 000.
Matlala ended his boxing career at Carnival City, Brakpan by stopping Colombian Juan Herrera for the WBU junior flyweight title in the seventh round. In so doing Matlala became the only South African boxer to have won four world titles in a career of 27 stoppages, 54 wins, 12 losses and 2 draws. The ultimate honour bestowed on the boxer was the arrival of Nelson Mandela and American actor Will Smith at ringside mid-way through his farewell fight. Matlala after the fight was so overwhelmed that he decided to present his WBU belt to Nelson Mandela.