Boxer Jacob Matlala, 51, a Mandela favorite, dies

Jacob ”Baby Jake” Matlala, a four-time world champion in the

flyweight and junior flyweight divisions and one of Nelson

Mandela’s favorite fighters, has died. He was 51.

The death of the South African boxer Saturday was announced by

family spokesman Ray McCauley.

Matlala died two days after Mandela, who attended Matlala’s last

bout in 2002. At the time, the boxer gave the former president one

of his belts.

Matlala’s former promoter, Rodney Berman, wrote on Twitter:

”Another great fighter has died … Go well little man, you’ll be

missed.”

Standing just 4-foot-10 1/2, Matlala’s disregard for his size

and ferocious punching speed made him one of South Africa’s

favorite athletes. During a 22-year career, he won flyweight and

junior flyweight belts for the WBO as well as the IBA light

flyweight title and WBU junior flyweight crown.