JUST as the length and darkness of a lion’s mane is to signal information to other animals about the fighting ability of the “king of the jungle”, so is a championship belt to a boxer.
South African boxing legend Ditau “Diarora” Molefyane was a great punisher and could put down his opponents with just one punch, but the now 56-year-old had nothing to show for it until this week.
Molefyane, born and in Tembisa and now a resident of Rosslyn in Pretoria, won the World Boxing Federation (WBF) junior lightweight title after beating Ricky Rayner in March 1993 in Australia. He became the first South African boxer to win a WBF title.
But the following year, Molefyane was dethroned by Mexican Aaron Zarate in Durban. On the night of the Zarate fight, his belt was not on the line, and the promoter should have organised a new one, but that did not happen.
Molefyane gave his belt to Zarate to pose with after the fight. Little did he know that he would not get it back.
But almost 30 years later, the lion can roar again. Molefyane reclaimed his belt on Wednesday night when he was finally reunited with his belt at OR Tambo International Airport.
The small ceremony was attended by MPL, ANC provincial senior official and Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi as well as other business people from Tembisa, who had been campaigning for the belt to come home.
The campaign was spearheaded by businessman Kenny Mametsa. A special event has been planned for the first week of April to honour the boxing legend, while a roadshow is being organised in Pretoria to “show off” the belt.
“This belt means everything to me. Without proper words to explain my feelings I am touched by what my sponsors did in making sure that I get it. It shows that I am being appreciated,” the father of four said.
WBF president Howard Goldberg, who handed over the belt to Molefyane, said: “We don’t sell belts; you earn them inside the ring, but because of the story behind his lost belt, we had to do what we did to get him his belt. I am happy that he got the belt he deserved years ago.”
The retired former champion was all smiles. “Although it was etched in my heart and I knew I was a champion, I needed something to show my people and my children … To inspire and encourage. And what better way for a boxer to inspire that with a hard-earned championship belt?”
So what really happened that night? “I gave a promoter my belt for television purposes; little did I know that I would not get it back,” he said.
Goldberg made it clear that it was the duty of the promoter in Durban to make sure Molefyane got his belt back at the time.
Now, Molefyane is a happy man after 27 years of trying to get his belt back. Although it’s not the original belt, it was a symbol that resonated.
“I hope this belt inspires the youth,” he said.
He said the problem with today’s youth included instant gratification and less hard work. “Today in the boxing industry you can buy yourself into the professional arena,” he said.
Molefyane, considered one of the most charismatic fighters in South Africa during the late 1980s and early 1990s, finished with a record of 29-7, including 15 wins inside the distance. He was a pure showman in the ring.
Meanwhile, Molefyane will challenge social media activist Khutsi Malala in a fund-raising bout dubbed “The Rumble in Sosha”.
“I have 300 fights under my belt, I don’t know about others ,” Molefyane joked, poking fun at Malala.
Malala has since accepted the challenge, and the retired boxer said the bout would take place on May 30 at Giant Stadium in Soshanguve.
Molefyane said that through the bout, he would help Malala with raising funds for buying a vehicle for his non-profit organisation, The Clean Up Squad, which helps nyaope addicts, among other activities.
The boxing legend said the fight would be streamed live on social media platforms. The public will be allowed to make their bets, with proceeds going to Malala’s organisation.