Former Champs Die - by Ron Jackson

Former SA junior flyweight champion Mveleli Luzipho died at his home in Mdantsane, near East London, recently after a long illness. He was 43.

Luzipho, who fought from 1981 to 1987, outpointed Tamsanqa Sogwe in his seventh professional fight on August 10, 1982 in Cape Town to win the national title.

Only four fights later, in February 1983, in his first defence, he lost to Baby Jake Matlala when he was stopped in the eleventh round.

In a return bout with Matlala he regained the title and then made a successful defence against Matlala before losing the belt once again in May 1986 when he was stopped in seven rounds by Odwa Mdleleni.

His career then began to wind down as he lost three of his next five fights inside the distance before hanging up his gloves to finish with a record 19-6, including 3 knockouts.

Mveleli then assisted fighters at the Eyethu Boxing Club in Mdantsane for more 20 years. He also helped in the corner of one the best SA fighters, former IBF junior featherweight champion Vuyani Bungu, and travelled abroad with him.

I met Mveleli on many occasions and will always remember his quiet unassuming manner as he went about his work in the corner.

Mahlo dies at 85

Former SA lightweight champion Gladstone Mahlo, who fought as a professional from 1948 to 1954, has died at the age of 85.

Mahlo, a skilful fighter who fought under the nickname of “Homicide Hank,” passed away last Monday.

He made his professional debut on March 13, 1948 when he stopped Fly Mohloheli in the fifth round. He then beat Tiger Kelly, Sammy Phillips and Kid Coco to complete a successful first year.

In February 1949 he was stopped in six rounds by Paul Mononyane in a challenge for the Transvaal lightweight title, but he made amends by winning against Tiger Kelly and stopping Mononyane in a return match to win the provincial title.

In his first fight in 1950 he lost to Kid Coco when the fight was stopped in the fourth round as a result of a badly cut lip. But he then beat Percy Wilkinson and Kid Coco in a clash for the vacant SA lightweight title; and stopped both Sonny Thomas and Kid Leopard.

His most successful year was 1951. After dropping a six-rounds points decision to Johannes Mahlangu, he beat Theo Mthembu (SA title defence), Ned van Reenen, Rocky Ramiah (SA title defence), Kista Govender (SA title defence) and Wally Thompson.

In 1952 he made a successful defence of the SA title against Percy Wilkinson but then lost the championship to Johannes Mahlangu on points in July before deciding to campaign in England.

He lost to fellow South African Alby Tissong in Liverpool and won and lost to Irishman Ricky McCullogh. After losing an eight-round points decision to Danny Hurley at the Epson Baths in Surrey he returned to South Africa.

In 1954 he lost to Gabriel Seleke and outpointed Morgan Mogale before being stopped in the tenth round by Elijah Mokone on December 28 in a challenge for the SA lightweight title; his last fight as he finished with a record of 18 wins, nine losses and eight wins inside the distance.