South Africa will bid farewell to one of its greatest boxing legends today in a ceremony at Rhema Church in Randburg.
The four-time world lightweight boxing champion was nicknamed “the little giant”. He was the shortest boxing world champion ever, at just 1.47 metres.
Matlala held four titles and was the first South African to win belts in different weight divisions.
Matlala’s memorial has been paid for by the sports department, and his funeral is being sponsored by the Gauteng government.
Jacob "Baby Jake" Matlala died last Saturday December 7 at 51.
"He died at 11am at Charlotte Maxeke [Johannesburg] Academic Hospital, after a lung problem," said family spokesman Pastor Alan McCauley, of Rhema Church.
His death came as a shock, said boxing manager and publicist Brian Mitchell.
"It's great loss for South African boxing," he said.
His death came just days after that of former president Nelson Mandela
, who was a boxer in his younger days.
Additional reporting Sapa