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6 South African combat sports icons feared across the globe

Strength and bravado are historical South African virtues. These virtues, passed down across generations, have inevitably translated into South Africa producing some of the fiercest fighters in the combat sports arena.

Never shying from a fight, these legends were feared for their courage and skillfulness once in the ring, with their fixtures a staple for punters on the best bookmaker sites, including bookmaker in crypto platforms.

In this article, we will educate you on six South African combat sports icons that got opponents shivering in fear.

Vuyani Bungu

Vuyani Bungu is a professional boxer and one of the best fighters produced in South Africa and born on February 26, 1967. 

The Beast, as he is fondly called, fought between 1987 and 2005. The 5ft5 boxer fought in the Super-bantamweight and Featherweight classes during his career. 

In 1994, Bungu shocked the boxing world by becoming the International Boxing Federation Super Bantamweight champion by beating the American Kennedy McKinney with a unanimous decision in South Africa. The clash was dubbed the” Upset of the Year” by Ring Magazine. 

Meanwhile, he successfully defended his title thirteen times. He was the IBO featherweight champion between 2004 and 2005. His career ended with 39 wins (19 KOs), 5 defeats, and no draws. 

Corrie Sanders

Cornelius Johannes “Corrie” Sanders was another great boxer to grace the South African boxing industry. Born on January 7 1966, the southpaw stood at 6ft4 and fought between 1989 and 2008. The Sniper was known for his hard punches, and his opponents testified to this. 

Meanwhile, he became the WBU heavyweight champion in 1997 and held it till 2000. Sanders shocked the world in 2003 when he became the World Boxing Organization’s heavyweight champion. He knocked out Wladimir Klitschko in the second round, one of the biggest upsets in world boxing history. 

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However, Sanders opted to challenge Vitali Klitschko for the WBC and Ring heavyweight titles instead of defending his title. 

He lost the fight and further lost to Hasim Rahman in a fierce clash that left both knocked out. Sanders won 42 fights, with 31 KOs, and lost 4.

Gerrie Coetzee

Gerhardus Christian Coetzee is an orthodox South African boxer whose fighting years spanned between 1974 and 1997. He was born on April 8, 1955, and stood at 6ft4. 

Coetzee was the first African to contest for the world heavyweight title. Although he had issues with his right hand, he was a tough fighter. 

Meanwhile, a series of early wins in his career made him a contender for the heavyweight title after Mohammad Ali’s retirement. 

His first two shots at the title failed, losing to John Tate and Mike Weaver. However, in his third attempt in 1993, he became the World Boxing Association champion, defeating Michael Dokes. 

However, he lost his first title defense to Greg Page, and he also had some notable fights before his retirement in 1997. Coetzee lost 5 fights, winning 33 with 21 KOs, and drew once. 

Jacob Matlala

Jacob Matlala was born on August 1 1962 and was one of the best South African boxers. He fought in the junior flyweight class and was nicknamed “Baby Jake” because of his size. 

The orthodox boxer stood at 4ft10, and he was the shortest world champion in boxing history. 

Matiala’s long career lasted 22 years, and he won the World Boxing Organization championship for the light flyweight category. He had four world championships and was voted 72 of the South African greatest boxers. 

His last fight was against Juan Herrera, and he retired, winning 53 wins (26 KOs), 13 losses, and 2 draws. He died on December 7 2013 at 51.

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Vic Toweel

Victor Toweel is a South African professional boxer who fought between 1949 and 1953. Standing at 5 ft 5, the fierce fighter was born on January 12 1928, and he had a short but exciting boxing career. Vic had a great work ethic and exceptional balance. He was known for his relentless and quick punches. 

After winning his debut fight with Johannes Landman in 1949, Victor became the world bantamweight champion with just the 14th fight of his career. He became the first South African to do so at 21. He defended his title 3 times, knocking Danny Sullivan down 14 times in 1953.

However, Toweel retired from boxing at 26, winning 28 fights and losing 3, with one tie. Also, 14 of his wins were knockouts. 

Brian Mitchell

Brian Mitchell was born on August 30 1961, and is one of the greatest South African boxers of all time. He stood at 5ft6 and contested between 1996 and 1995 in the super-featherweight class. 

The orthodox boxer’s only defeat came at the beginning of his professional career. 

In 1986, Brian won the WBA super-featherweight title and defended it 13 times for five years. Also, he won the Ring super-featherweight title in 1986 and the IBF super-featherweight championship in 1991.

He retired as a world champion in 1995 with 21 KOs out of 45 wins, a loss, and three draws. The International Boxing inducted Mitchel into its Hall of Fame in 2009.

Here we are! South Africa has produced exceptional fighters in different combat sports, and we’ve mentioned some of them. Most had impressive careers which ranged across various weight classes. The nation still has a decent number of professional fighters doing great in their preferred combat sports. 

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