Boxing great to be missed

Members of the Free State boxing fraternity agree that the craft of Daniel Mapanya, one of the province’s finest boxers during the 1970’s, will be missed in the sport for years to come.

Mapanya was buried in Welkom on 21 July.

Followers of the sport came in numbers to pay their last respects to this athlete, who many boxing followers believe was in a league of his own.

The last bell rang for Mapan­ya and marked the end of a chapter in boxing history.

So classy was Mapanya that throughout his career he was one of the big names that always garnered mass attention, searing themselves in social memory.

Known as “Baby Cassius” and “Destroyer”, Mapanya died at 71 after a long illness.

He had conquered the country having held the South African middleweight championship title and had been one of the fearless boxers to have emerged from the Free State and a mining town which is one of South Africa’s erstwhile boxing hubs.

Between the 1970’s and the 1980’s, Welkom was a hub of boxing in South Africa, and the Western Holdings Mine boasted one of the best development stables ever.

This stable produced world-class pugilists like Mapanya.

The legendary fighter was one of the first national boxing golden belt holders after the unification of historically segregated black and white boxing federations in the early 1970’s.

Mapanya was mentored by predecessor Andrew “Ace” Thloone, who held the title in the same division.

Quick as lightning, Mapanya won the South African middleweight championship after defeating Dough Lumley, stopping his opponent in the seventh.

He annexed the title in the 1980’s in Welkom.

He made a few successful defences before losing the crown to Enoch “Sgegede” Nhlapo. Mapanya lost by technical knockout in the fourth round in Durban.

Mapanya was one of the sportspersons that emerged from sports developments absorbed by the mine.

Some were employed by mines.

Before he turned professional, Mapanya had worked as mining instruc­tor.

He was born in Springs in the East Rand and raised in Welkom, and attended the Phomolong Primary School in Welkom.

He is survived by his wife, Cynthia Mapanya, one daughter and one grand­daughter.

Moeti Molelekoa