Former boxing world champion, Dingaan Thobela, dies aged 57

South African boxing legend Dingaan Thobela has died aged 57 (Getty)

Former boxing world champion, Dingaan Thobela, has died aged 57 after battling illness.

Thobela, nicknamed the ‘Rose of Soweto’, was found dead in his flat in Johannesburg, South Africa on Monday evening.

Thobela’s childhood friend, Eddie Mutungutungu, revealed that he became concerned after being unable to contac the former boxer.

‘He was strangely unavailable on his cellphone, and his family, accompanied by police, managed to gain access to his place of residence and found he had passed on,’ Mutungutungu said.

During his career, Thobela won three world titles in two weight divisions. He won the WBO lightweight title in 1990 and WBA lightweight belt in 1993 before winning the WBC super-middleweight title in 2000.

Thobela retired in 2006 with a record of 40 wins, 14 defeats and two draws from 56 fights.

Dingaan Thobela won three world titles during his career (AFP via Getty)

South African boxer Kevin Lerena thanked Thobela for being an ‘inspiration and motivation’.

‘Rest in peace to South African boxing legend Dingaan Thobela,’ Lerena wrote on X.

‘Your talent and determination in the ring will never be forgotten. You always supported me and believed in my abilities, pushing me to reach my fullest potential. Thank you for your inspiration and motivation, Champ.’

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Speaking about his tough upbringing in an interview with Ring Magazine last year, Thobela said: ‘Soweto helped make me what I am today. I come from the tough ghetto.

‘It was tough in the sense of poverty; we grew up with nothing. My mother abandoned me when I was three months old. She took me to my grandmother on my dad’s side. She couldn’t raise me. My grandmother nurtured me.

‘I was bullied by my elders, and boxing was a form of defense.

‘Norman [Hlabane, boxing trainer] had faith in me. He threw me into the amateur ranks.

‘He was not there 80 percent of the time, but he would train me and prepare me, and then he would let me go with someone who would be in the corner with me. He saw I was skillful and handled myself against those guys.’

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