‘The Rose of Soweto’: a champion inside and outside the ring

By Everson Luhanga

Dingaan Bongane Thobela was a master in the square ring, where he achieved many successes and titles, but his greatest achievements lay outside the ropes. If there was a title for being a human being, he would have been a world champion.

The year of 1966, the year he was born, could not have been a worse time for a child to come into apartheid South Africa. He was ten at the time of the Youth Uprising of ’76 in Soweto, yet he never adopted the handy mantle of hatred, so easily accessible in the townships in those terrible times.

Instead he became a boxer. A talented fighter who won three world titles, including the WBC Super Middleweight title, which he won in 2000, aged 36.  

Yet, it’s no surprise that the tributes that are streaming in, speak about the man as much as the record.

Jan Bergman, also a world champion, spoke about his sparring partner.

“In old times when I turned pro, he helped me a lot. He was a strong person,” he told Sifiso Ramara of the SABC.

The famous Brian Mitchell said: “Dingaan was legendary. He was a great guy outside the ring as well. When I retired, Dingaan was still fighting. I took him to some fights in America and we became good friends.”

‘The Rose of Soweto’ had been unwell recently.

His childhood friend Eddie Mutungutungu confirmed the 57-year-old World Champion was found dead at his home in Mayfair, Johannesburg after several attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

“He was strangely unavailable on his mobile, and his family, accompanied by police, managed to gain access to his home and found he had passed on,” Mutungutungu told Sowetan.

Thobela couldn’t attend the Boxing SA symposium at the Arena Holdings offices in Parktown last Friday due to ill health.

Just two weeks ago, Joseph Makaringe – the former SA welterweight champion – passed away after a short illness.

Pictured above: The late, great Dingaan Thobela.

Source: Lucky Morajane


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