SA boxing history stocked with wealth of titles

Willie Smith, SA’s first claimant to a world boxing title.

Ron Jackson

The first South African to be recognised as a claimant to a world title was Willie Smith who outpointed England’s Teddy Baldock – “The Pride of the Poplar” – over 15 rounds at the Royal Albert Hall in London on October 6, 1927.

The title was vacant at the time after Charley Phil Rosenberg, who held the New York State Athletic Commission version of the title, had relinquished it in February 1927.

On May 23, 1928 Bushy Graham would claim the vacant NYSAC title after outpointing Corporal Izzy Schwartz.

In view of the fragmented world titles around today, Herbert G Goldman, editor of The Ring Record Book and Boxing Encylopaedia, felt that Willie Smith had to be recognised as a world champion.

Since Smith’s claim to a world title 81 South Africans have won one or other version of the alphabet world titles around today.

South Africa’s first and only real world champion was Vic Toweel who on May 31, 1950 made history to become the first and only South African to date to win a universally recognised world title.

Vic Toweel.

At the time when Toweel won the world title there were only eight divisions and eighty fighters rated as contenders.

Today there are 17 divisions recognised by the various boxing organisations as listed below

(The United Kingdom works in stone which is 14 lbs).

Division/Class Stone kg Pounds
Minimumweight (WBC/WBA/IBF)
Mini-flyweight (WBO)
7½ stone

14 lbs

47,627 kg 105 lbs
Light-flyweight
Junior-flyweight
7 stone 10 lbs 48,988 kg 108 lbs
Flyweight (WBC/WBA/IBF/WBO) 8 stone 50,802 kg 112 lbs
Super-flyweight
Junior-bantamweight
8 stone 3 lbs 52,163 kg 115 lbs
Bantamweight 8 stone 6 lbs 53,525 kg 118 lbs
Super-bantamweight
Junior-featherweight
8 stone 10 lbs 55,225 kg 122 lbs
Featherweight 9 stone 57,153 kg 126 lbs
Super-featherweight
Junior-lightweight
9 stone 4 lbs 58,967 kg 130 lbs
Lightweight 9 stone 9 lbs 61,235 kg 135 lbs
Super-lightweight
Junior-welterweight
10 stone 63,503 kg 140 lbs
Welterweight 10½ stone 66,678 kg 147 lbs
Super-welterweight
Junior-middleweight
11 stone 69,85 kg 154 lbs
Middleweight 11 stone 6 lbs 72,574 kg 160 lbs
Super-middleweight 12 stone 76,203 kg 168 lbs
Light-heavyweight 12½ stone 79,378 kg 175 lbs
Cruiserweight
Junior-heavyweight
14 sone 4 lbs 90,892 kg 200 lbs
Heavyweight over 14 st 4 lbs over 90,892 kg over 200 lbs

The other South Africans who have won versions of world titles since Smith and Toweel are listed below:

Arnold Taylor: Won title, November 3, 1973 (bantamweight-WBA)

Peter Mathebula: Won title, December 13, 1980 (flyweight-WBA)

Gerrie Coetzee: Won title, September 23, 1983 (heavyweight-WBA)

Piet Crous: Won title, December 1, 1984 (junior heavyweight-WBA)

Brian Mitchell: Won title, September 27, 1986 (junior lightweight-WBA)

Welcome Ncita: Won title, March 10, 1990 (junior featherweight-IBF)

Dingaan Thobela: Won title,September 22, 1990 (lightweight-WBO)

Brian Mitchell: Won title, September 13, 1991 (junior lightweight-IBF- 2nd title)

Ditau Molefyane: Won title, March 19, 1993 (junior lightweight-WBF)

Jacob Matlala: Won title, May 15, 1993 (flyweight-WBO)

Dingaan Thobela: Won title, June 26, 1993 (lightweight-WBA-2nd title)

Vuyani Bungu.

Vuyani Bungu: Won title,  August 20, 1994 (junior featherweight-IBF)

Mbulelo Botile: Won title, April 29, 1995 (bantamweight-IBF)

Phillip Holiday: Won title, August 19, 1995 (lightweight-IBF)

Gary Murray: Won title, August 26, 1995 (welterweight-WBU)

Jacob Matlala: Won title, November 18, 1995 (junior flyweight-WBO- 2nd title)

November Ntshingila: Won title, November 27, 1995 (featherweight-IBC)

Francois Botha: Won title, December 9, 1995 (heavyweight-IBF)

Thulani Sugarboy Malinga: Won title, March 2, 1996 (super middleweight-WBC)

Sakhumzi Magxwalisa: Won title, June 15, 1996 (super flyweight-WBU)

Mzukisi Sikali(aka Skali): Won title, November 8, 1996 (junior flyweight-WBU)

Cassius Baloyi.

Cassius Baloyi: Won title, November 15, 1996 (junior featherweight-WBU)

Lehlohonolo Ledwaba: Won title, November 17, 1996 (bantamweight-WBU)

Jacob Matlala: Won title, July 18, 1997 (junior flyweight-IBA-3rd title)

Peter Malinga: Won title, July 30, 1997 (welterweight-WBU)

Patrick Quka: Won title, August 2, 1997 (bantamweight-WBU)

Corrie Sanders: Won title, November 15, 1997 (heavyweight-WBU)

Thulani Sugarboy Malinga: Won title, December 19, 1997 (super middleweight-WBC-2nd title)

Zolani Petelo: Won title, December 27, 1997 (mini flyweight-IBF)

Cassius Baloyi: Won title, April 24, 1998 (featherweight-WBU-2nd title)

Thulani Sugarboy Malinga: Won title, June 5, 1998 (super middleweight-WBF-3rd title)

Mzukisi Sikali(aka.Skali): Won title, August 1, 1998 (junior bantamweight-WBU-2nd title)

Simon Ramoni: Won title, August 8, 1998 (super bantamweight-IBO)

Mpush Makambi: Won title, September 8, 1998 (middleweight-IBO)

Jacob Mofokeng: Won title, September 12, 1998 (cruiserweight-WBU)

Lindi Memani: Won title, September 12, 1998 (strawweight-WBU)

Masibulela Makepula: Won title, September 22, 1998 (junior flyweight-WBU)

Lehlohonolo Ledwaba: Won title, May 29, 1999 (junior featherweight-IBF-2nd title)

Sebastiaan Rothmann: Won title, September 24, 1999 (cruiserweight-WBU)

Wele Maqolo: Won title, September 25, 1999 (mini flyweight-WBF)

Zolile Mbityi: Won title, October 22, 1999 (flyweight-IBO)

Peter Malinga: Won title, October 22, 1999 (welterweight-IBO-2nd title)

Masibulela Makepula: Won title, February 19, 2000 (junior flyweight-WBO-2nd title)

Mike Barnardo:Won title, May 14, 2000 (heavyweight-WBF)

Dingaan Thobela:Won title, September 1, 2000 (super middleweight-WBC-3rd title)

Mbulelo Botile:Won title, December 16, 2000 (featherweight-IBF & IBO-2nd and 3rd title)

Jacob Matlala:Won title, February 17, 2001 (flyweight-WBU-4th title)

Jan Bergman: Won title, June 2, 2001 (welterweight-WBU)

Virgil Kalakoda: Won title, June 8, 2001 (junior middleweight-IBC)

Phillip Ndou: Won title, July 25, 2001 (junior lightweight-WBU)

Masibulela Makepula: Won title, January 26, 2002 (flyweight-IBO-3rd title)

Silence Mabuza:Won title, March 2, 2002 (bantamweight-IBO)

Mhikiza Myekeni:Won title, April 17, 2002 (junior flyweight-IBO)

Cassius Baloyi: Won title, April 17, 2002 (junior lightweight-IBO-3rd title)

Ruben Groenewald: Won title, June 1, 2002 (middleweight-WBU)

Gabula Vabaza: Won title, July 26, 2002 (super flyweight-WBU)

Lehlohonolo Ledwaba: Won title, July 27, 2002 (featherweight-WBU–3rd title)

Mzukisi Sikali: Won title, September 14, 2002 (flyweight-IBO–3rd title)

Sebastiaan Rothmann:Won title, October 26, 2002 (cruiserweight-IBO-2nd title)

Lunga Ntontela:Won title, December 13, 2002 (super flyweight-IBO)

Corrie Sanders: Won title, March 8, 2003 (heavyweight-WBO-2nd title)

Zolani Marali: Won title, July 11, 2003 (junior featherweight-IBO)

Samuel Malinga: Won title, July 26, 2003 (junior welterweight-World Boxing Foundation)

Vuyani Bungu:Won title, February 7, 2004 (featherweight-IBO–2nd title)

Thomas Mashaba: Won title, May 22, 2004 (junior featherweight-IBO)

Thomas Mashaba: Won title, June 25, 2005 (featherweight-IBO-2nd title)

Isaac Hlatshwayo: Won title, August 31, 2005 (lightweight-IBO)

Takalani Ndlovu: Won title, November 4, 2005 (junior featherweight-IBO)

Cassius Baloyi: Won title, May 31, 2006 (junior lightweight-IBF-4th title)

Zolani Marali: Won title, September 8, 2006 (junior featherweight-WB Foundation–2nd title)

Nkosinathi Joyi: Won title, November 3, 2006 (strawweight-IBO)

Malcolm Klassen: Won title, November 4, 2006 (junior lightweight-IBF)

Simphiwe Nongqayi: Won title, December 15, 2006 (junior bantamweight-WB Foundation)

Cassius Baloyi: Won title, February 3, 2007 (junior lightweight-IBO–5th title)

Lovemore Ndou: Awarded the IBF junior welterweight title when Ricky Hatton relinquished the title, February 13, 2007 (junior welterweight-IBF)

Mlungisi Dlamini: Won title, March 9, 2007 (lightweight-WB Foundation)

Mzonke Fana: Won title, April 20, 2007 (junior lightweight-IBF)

Isaac Hlatshwayo: Won title, May 12, 2007 (welterweight-IBO–2nd title)

Silence Mabuza: Won title, May 12, 2007 (bantamweight-IBO–2nd title.

Muvhuso Nedzanani: Won title, June 1, 2007 (junior flyweight-WB Foundation)

Zolani Tete: Won title, September 23, 2007 (flyweight-WB Foundation)

Zolani Marali: Won title, November 2, 2007 (junior lightweight-WB Foundation–3rd title)

Oscar Chauke: Won title, November 23, 2007 (junior featherweight-WB Foundation)

William Gare: Won title, February 23, 2008 (super middleweight-WB Foundation)

Cassius Baloyi: Won title, April 12, 2008 (junior lightweight-IBF–6th title)

Zolile Mbityi: Won title, May 31, 2008 (super flyweight-IBO–2nd title)

Ludumo Galada: Won title, August 22, 2008 (featherweight-WB Foundation)

Bongani Mwelase: Won title, October 10, 2008 (welterweight-WB Foundation)

Lubabalo Msuthu: Won title, November 22, 2008 (bantamweight-WB Foundation)

Francois Botha: Won title, February 6, 2009 (heavyweight-WB Foundation-2nd title)

Takalani Ndlovu: Won title, March 20, 2009 (featherweight-WB Foundation–2nd title)

Zolani Marali:Won title, April 2, 2009 (junior lightweight-IBO–4th title)

Malcolm Klassen: Won title, April 18, 2009 (junior lightweight-IBF–2nd title)

Simphiwe Vetyeka: Won title, July 11, 2009 (bantamweight-IBO)

Lovemore Ndou: Won title, July 11, 2009 (welterweight-IBO–2nd title)

Isaac Hlatshwayo: Won title, August 1, 2009 (welterweight-IBF–3rd title)

Bongani Mwelase: Won title, August 7, 2009 (junior middleweight-WBF–2nd title)

Simphiwe Nongqayi: Won title, September 15, 2009 (junior bantamweight-IBF–2nd title)

Mlungisi Dlamini: Won title, October 31, 2009 (lightweight-IBO–2nd title)

Moruti Mthalane: Won title, November 20, 2009 (flyweight-IBF)

Simpiwe Konkco and Hekkie Budler.

Hekkie Budler: Won title, February 27 ,2010 (junior flyweight-IBO)

Nkosinathi Joyi: Won title, March 26, 2010 (mini flyweight-IBF–2nd title)

Gideon Buthelezi: Won title, June 19, 2010 (strawweight-IBO)

Mzonke Fana: Won title, September 1, 2010 (junior lightweight-IBF–2nd title)

Gideon Buthelezi: Won title, January 27, 2011 (junior flyweight-IBO-2nd title)

Tshifhiwa Munyai: Won title, March 26, 2011 (junior featherweight-IBO)

Thomas Oosthuizen: Won title, March 26, 2011 (super middleweight-IBO)

Takalani Ndlovu:Won title, March 26, 2011 (junior featherweight-IBF-3rd title)

Hekkie Budler: Won title, September 24, 2011 (strawweight-IBO-2nd title)

Chris van Heerden: Won title, September 24, 2011 (welterweight-IBO)

Ali Funeka:Won title, November 19, 2011 (junior welterweight-WBF)

Malcolm Klassen: Won title, November 19, 2011 (junior lightweight-WBF-3rd title)

Kaizer Mabuza: Won title, March 3, 2012 (junior welterweight-IBO)

Jeffrey Mathebula: Won title, March 24, 2012 (junior featherweight-IBF)

Lovemore Ndou: Won title, August 10, 2012 (welterweight-WB Foundation-3rd title)

Gideon Buthelezi: Won title, November 10, 2012 (junior bantamweight-IBO-3rd title)

Zolani Marali: Won title, December 8, 2012 (junior welterweight-WB Federation-5th title)

Simphiwe Vetyeka: Won title, April 14, 2013 (featherweight-IBO-2nd title)

Thabo Sonjica: Won title, July 6, 2013 (junior featherweight-IBO)

Danie Venter: Won title, September 20, 2013 (cruiserweight-WBF)

Simphiwe Vetyeka: Won title, December 6, 2013 (featherweight-WBA–3rd title.

Hekkie Budler: Elevated to WBA champion, January 8, 2014 (minimumweight-WBA–3nd title)

Moruti Mthalane: Won title, March 15, 2014 (flyweight-IBO–2nd title)

Lwandile Sityatha: Won title, May 31, 2014 (super flyweight-WBF)

Zolani Tete: Won title, July 18, 2014 (junior bantamweight-IBO-2nd title)

Luyanda Nkwankwa: Won title, July 18, 2014 (mimimumweight-WBF)

Lusanda Komanisi: Won title, July 18, 2014 (featherweight-IBO)

Lwandile Sityatha: Won title, July 18, 2014 (super flyweight-IBO-2nd title)

Ali Funeka: Won title, November 15, 2014 (welterweight-IBO-2nd title)

Tommy Oosthuizen: Won title, March 14, 2015 (light heavyweight-IBO-2nd title)

Tsiko Mulovhedzi: Won title, July 24, 2015 (welterweight-IBO)

Xolisani Ndongeni: Won title, November 28, 2015 (lightweight-IBO)

Gideon Buthelezi: Won title, December 18, 2015 (junior bantamweight-IBO-4th title)

Hekkie Budler: Won title, January 20, 2016 (Elevated to WBA “super” minimumweight title-4th title)

Simpiwe Konkco: Won title, June 11, 2016 (minimumweight-IBO)

Malcolm Klassen: Won title, August 5, 2016 (junior lightweight-IBO–4th title)

Hekkie Budler: Won title February 4, 2017 (light flyweight-IBO-5th title)

Mzuvukile Magwaca: Won title March 31, 2017 (bantamweight-WBF).

Zolani Tete: Won title, April 22, 2017 (interim bantamweight-WBO-3nd title- elevated to full champion April 26, 2017)

Kevin Lerena: Won title, September 9, 2017 (cruiserweight-IBO)

Xolisana Ndongeni: Won title April 6, 2018 (lightweight-WBF-2nd title)

Hekkie Budler:W on title, May 20, 2018 (WBA/IBF/Ring magazine light flyweight titles – 6th/7th/8th)

Thulani Mbenge: Won title, Jun 23, 2018 (welterweight – IBO)

Moruti Mthalane: Won title, July 15, 2018 (flyweight – IBF 3rd title)

Some South African champions have won more than one title from the numerous world boxing organisation titles up for grabs.

Only two South Africans, Vic Toweel and Hekkie Budler, have been awarded Ring magazine belts. The Ring magazine belts have not been included in the number of titles won.

Since Willie Smith claimed the world bantamweight title in 1927, South African fighters have taken part in 569 fights for one or other organisation world belt.

Number of world champions: 82
Number of titles: 148
British Version: 1
Universal: 1
IBA:  1
World Boxing Foundation: 15
IBC:  2
WBC:  3
WBF: 13
WBO:  6
WBA: 10
IBF: 25
IBO: 51
WBU: 20