JOHANNESBURG - Tributes have been pouring in following the death of local boxer Jacob “Baby Jake” Matlala.
Baby Jake died at the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg on Saturday, following a battle with a lung condition.
Although short in stature, the fighter had a successful career spanning 22 years.
He’s survived by his wife and two children.
Matlala was the undisputed king of the ring. A mere 1.47meters tall, he had a successful career with 54 wins – 26 of those were knockouts.
Boxing promoter Rodney Berman said that despite Matlala's size, most of his opponents succumbed to his power.
“He was like a little windmill. He came in there and he just never stopped. And he wore down his opponents, they just couldn’t take it anymore. He just kept coming and coming and coming with terrific hand speed…”
In 2010, Matlala was hospitalised for double pneumonia.
At the time the fighter was also reported to be struggling financially.
“Its heart-breaking when you find great sportsmen like that dying without any money, without any financial means..” Berman said.
RT @TheClassyJr: RIP Baby Jake Matlala. Shortest world champ ever at 4'10". A great one from S. Africa!— Rodney Berman (@GoldenGlovesSA) December 8, 2013