Blasts from the past: Tragedy in 1956 for Willie Toweel

Sport

Blasts from the past: Tragedy in 1956 for Willie Toweel

Journalist


Today in SA sports history: March 19
1956 — Willie Toweel fights his friend Hubert Essakow in an ill-fated contest at the Johannesburg city hall. Toweel came in heavier than his opponent after losing his SA featherweight title on the scales. Essakow, who had fought at lightweight shortly before, had reduced weight. It was a tough bout but Toweel won when he knocked out Essakow in the 11th round. Essakow lost consciousness and died in hospital three days later. Toweel suffered a breakdown as a result, and was haunted by his friend’s death for the rest of his life.
1993 — Ditau Molefyane becomes the first SA boxer to win a marginal world title when he outpoints Australian Ricky Rayner for the vacant WBF junior-lightweight belt in Sydney. The four mainstream organisations were the WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO, but the 1990s saw the proliferation of alphabet organisations that found popularity among SA promoters and fighters, notably the WBU and IBO.
1994 — Dingaan Thobela fails to reclaim his WBA lightweight crown from Russian Orzubek Nazarov, again losing on points over 12 rounds, this time at the Carousel casino.
1966 — Kimberley residents raise R1,000 for swimming coach Frank Gray to accompany his world record-breaking star, Karen Muir, when she competes in Milan later in the month. Rand Daily Mail columnist Paul Irwin had suggested Gray accompany his protege, and soon a “Send Frank Gray Fund” had become official. The money was raised inside five days.
1977 — In one of the bigger mismatches seen in a local ring, heavyweight Gerrie Coetzee blows away former light-heavyweight contender Pierre Fourie in the third round of their bout. It was the only stoppage defeat for Fourie, who failed in four bids for the world light-heavyweight title, twice against American Bob Foster and twice against Victor Galindez of Argentina. Fourie admitted later that he knew he would be outgunned by Coetzee, saying he took the fight for the money. He hung up his gloves after that.
1999 — Sugarboy Malinga, by now 43 years old, is stopped on a 10th round technical knockout to lose the peripheral WBF super-middleweight title to Mads Larsen in Denmark. It was the third occasion Malinga had been a world champion – he had twice owned the WBC crown before – and every time he lost in his first defence.
2016 — Hekkie Budler suffers a shock defeat as he loses his WBA and IBO strawweight titles on points to Byron Rojas of Nicaragua at Emperors Palace. Budler – who had struggled to make the weight, according to trainer Colin Nathan – was making the ninth defence of his IBO belt and the fourth of his WBA belt. Rojas was dethroned in his first defence three months later.

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