Blast from the past: tragedy after Toweel knocks out friend

Sport

Blast from the past: tragedy after Toweel knocks out friend

Journalist

Today in SA sports history: March 19

1956 — Willie Toweel fights friend Hubert Essakow in their ill-fated contest at the Johannesburg city hall. Toweel comes in heavier than his opponent after losing his SA featherweight title on the scales. Essakow, who has fought at lightweight recently, has reduced weight. It’s a tough bout but Toweel wins when he knocks out Essakow in the 11th round. Essakow loses consciousness and dies in hospital three days later. Toweel suffers a breakdown as a result, and is haunted by his friend’s death for the rest of his life.

1966 — Kimberley residents raise R1,000 so swimming coach Frank Gray can 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 protégé, and soon a “Send Frank Gray Fund” had become official. The money was raised inside five days...

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