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Articles of 2006

The life and times of King Kong

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Nicknamed King Kong because of his size and strength, former heavyweight boxer Ezekiel Dlamini, like his fictional namesake, led a dramatic life and tragic end… one also connected to the perceived betrayal of a woman he loved.

Born in Vryheid in Natal, South Africa in 1921, Dlamini received some schooling in a Catholic mission before leaving home at the age of 14 to make a life of his own, away from his father’s whip in the family fields. He worked as a gardener for a time in Durban, but after traveling to Johannesburg as a member of a touring soccer team, decided to stay in the city of gold. The world was of course completely different in those times, the credo of live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse was the dictum of many young black men and women of the day.

Gangsters, jazzmen, beauty queens, folk heroes and illegal dagga (marijuana) dens were the lifestyle of many. It was in these times that some of South Africa’s most noted black musicians like Hugh Masakela, singers like Miriam Makeba, and writers like Can Themba and Henry Nxumalo rose to prominence. “The Americans,” “The Spoilers” and “The Msomis” were some of the gangs who copied their style and image from what they saw in American movies. It was a boiling pot of cultural confusion mixed with a legendary energy and creativity on a backdrop of crime, murder and political oppression. Some say it was a terrible time, others say it was magical. It all depends which side of the knife or the spotlight you were standing.

Dlamini made his living as a professional gambler and with plenty of free time on his hands would make his way around training gyms, dance and singing halls. The legend goes that the first time he walked into a boxing gym and saw people fighting with “cushions” around their fists he laughed himself  sick. Mocking the boxers he’s reported to have said he could beat all of them up one after the other including their boss (trainer), who happened to be a former professional and local boxing legend by the name of William “Baby Batter” Mbatha.

Mbatha laughed him off, but as Dlamini became more and more insulting, Mbatha decided to teach him a lesson. He handed the youngster a pair of gloves, laced his own up and went about giving him a sound beating and knocking him to the floor. The boxing bug bit and Dlamini was eager to learn more. He impressed onlookers with his strength and was named “King Kong” by Fred Thabedi, then president of the Non-European Amateur Boxing Association.

Another legendary story about King Kong after he turned professional is that on finding out another boxer was saying that he could beat him, Kong jumped on a train rode 600 km to Durban and confronted the man at his workplace at the railway station. The boxer, a light heavyweight by the name of Sam Langford, was highly distressed by the situation and said fights must be arranged by managers and promoters; you don’t just rock up and fight wherever. Kong responded; “You said you’d fight me anywhere, any time in the week and twice on a weekend, so let’s do it.” A friend of Langford’s intervened and spoke sense into Kong’s head. The big man walked away thinking Langford was a coward.

Langford most certainly must have been named after the legendary black American boxer who gave Jack Johnson a torrid time in the ring and who many believe could have won the world title had he been given the opportunity. Kong also defeated another boxer by the name of John Sullivan to win the (Non-European) Transvaal heavyweight title in 1951. It was a huge affair and the BMSC hall was packed to the rafters. Known for his incredible stamina, King chased Sullivan around and peppered him with blows from all angles. King would stand ala Muhammad Ali with his hands raised or rubbing his stomach while Sullivan feebly threw punches to his abdomen. Needless to say it wasn’t long before Sullivan was knocked out.  

Shortly afterwards he won the (Non-European) national heavyweight title with a victory over Joe Mtambo. King Kong loved the attention and was often seen doing his roadwork carrying dumbbells and wearing weighted boots and shadowboxing in the busy Marshall Street in the Johannesburg city center. Crowds would run behind and alongside him ala “Rocky” and chant his name. This earned him another nickname, that of King Marshall. People got so used to calling him King Kong that it was generally accepted as his name and people would refer to him as King as if it where his first name. Another nickname he went by was “Spice Smasher,” a hard object used to grind spices and corn.

Running out of opponents King Kong accepted a bout against an experienced middleweight fighter named Simon Greb Mthimkulu. Disregarding his opponent’s abilities the heavyweight jogged two miles to the fight venue and climbed into the ring drenched in sweat. He then clowned around and toyed with the smaller man. He dropped him with a soft right hand following two jabs in the first round and continued fooling around in the second and third, throwing all caution to the wind. Greb saw his chance in the third round as he stormed in and landed a right to Kong’s stomach and a left crisp to his jaw, which saw the big man drop to the canvas for the count.

This defeat affected Dlamini’s psyche as he developed a complex that everybody was sneering and laughing at him for being beaten by a smaller man. He suffered severe mood swings and became suspicious and dangerously violent. An innocent smile or odd look could lead to an argument or even a fight. On one occasion he asked friends to put him in chains to symbolize his humiliation.

His pride took yet another knock when he was knocked out of the ring twice by Ewart Potgieter (tallest South African boxer ever at 7-feet-2-inches) in a sparring session. Although black and white boxers were not permitted to fight each other in official bouts, they did spar together and would often engage in boxing matches outside the borders of the country. Boxing was one of the leaders in sport transformation in South Africa and became multiracial in the 1970’s, as opposed to most others which only merged in the 1990’s.

Following injuries sustained in the ring, doctors advised Dlamini to take some time off from boxing and he took up a job as a bouncer in a beer hall in Polly Street. He complained that he was starting to feel weaker and claimed that a doctor must have injected him with something to make him lose his strength. He swore a brutal revenge if he ever found out who that doctor was.

It was during the course of his duties as a bouncer that he crossed swords with a gang called “The Spoilers.” On one occasion he was arrested for manslaughter for killing a youngster, who he’d hit in a rage of temper. He was found not guilty on this occasion, but shortly afterwards he ended up killing the leader of “The Spoilers” during a brawl, with his own knife. He was acquitted on grounds of self-defense.

The gang decided to get revenge on him themselves and got a girl called Maria Miya to seduce him and lure him into a situation where they could kill him. Already suspicious that she was being unfaithful to him, Dlamini suspected foul play. After she led him outside, behind the beer hall he stabbed her to death. Still holding the blood drenched knife he challenged the gang members to shoot him. They didn’t and he was arrested by the police.

In court Dlamini begged the judge to sentence him to death, but he was sent to Leeukop prison farm with a sentence of 12 years. Before he was taken from the court cells, Dlamini told a friend and fellow boxer Windy Mkwize that he no longer wanted to live. On April 3 1957 his body was found in a dam on the prison farm.

The circumstance around his death is not known for certain. It was ruled as an accidental drowning, but those who knew him, believed that King Kong had taken his own life. He was described as a strange, proud, lonely man who never found whatever it was he was looking for. Was it the spotlight, was it the feeling of being the champion, or was it just love and acceptance that he longed for?

Mona Glasser wrote a musical play in 1960 based on the legend of King Kong and part of the title song went: “King Kong right on top man/King Kong never can fall/ King Kong nothing can stop him/That’s me, I’m him, King Kong.” This verse is said to sum up the creed of Ezekiel Dlamini and explains why, once he had fallen, King Kong wanted to die.

Articles of 2006

Peter/Toney Ii: Peter Has The Brutal Punch

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Samuel Peter claims he has dynamites in my two hands?

Heavyweight contenders Samuel “The Nigerian Nightmare” Peter and James Lights Out? Toney get it on a second time this Saturday from the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Fla. (Showtime).

The hard-slugging Peter, unlike Toney, is one of those strong, silent types notorious for letting their fists to the talking one the opening bell sounds, but the Nigeria Nightmare is as confident as ever and determined to turn Lights Out’s lights out for good.

I have got dynamites in my two hands,? said Peter, according the Lagos, Nigeria Vanguard, and I will crush James Toney once and for all. The Toney camp made the mistake of their lives by protesting and seeking a rematch. I am ready to teach him a bitter lesson.?

Sam Peter walked away with the W for Peter/Toney I at the Staples Center in LA last September, but it was by disputed split decision a verdict so disputed, there was even a dispute about the dispute which forced the WBC’s hand into mandating Saturday’s rematch.

Samuel Peter is the biggest thing to hit African boxing since Ghanaian superstar Azumah Nelson rocked the feather and junior welterweight divisions. The President of the Nigeria Boxing Board of Control, Prince Olaide Adeboye, admitted, according to allAfrica.com, We are rooting for Samuel Peter, of course. He is one boy we believe in to bring back the country’s lost glory in professional boxing. I am personally making arrangement to be at the ringside to see him fight Toney again. I was at the first fight in Los Angeles in September.

Peter has the brutal punch, and to me he was the clear winner of the first fight. But the WBC Board of Governors, of which I am a member, voted 21-10 for a rematch. There was nothing those of us Africans on the board could do in the circumstances. But I believe Peter will confirm he is better than Toney and will then go ahead to meet the champion and claim the belt for Nigeria and Africa.?

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Articles of 2006

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings for Asia

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There are claims that boxing is dying. Hogwash. The heavyweight division isn’t the only division in boxing and 2007 promises to be a banner year in boxing; especially for boxers hailing from Asia.

While Asia isn’t Vegas or Atlantic City, it is a region packed of diamonds in the rough; undiscovered gems and potential superstars who wait for their moment in the sun.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Asia

1) Manny Pacquiao – There’s no way to dispute Pacquiao is the best fighter in Asia, if not all of boxing. He’s exciting, he wins with Je Ne Sais Quois and is definitely “the man” in boxing.

2) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam – Although his competition leaves much to be desired, his longevity and skills are undeniable. He is currently Thailand’s only world champion and is undefeated in ten years. Need I say more?

3) Chris John – A victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, however controversial, shows he belongs at the top of the heap. He easily outpointed Renan Acosta to close out 2006 and should have no trouble defending against Jose Rojas in February. A fight with Pacquiao would not be a good move on his part but a rematch with Marquez would not hurt – especially if he defeats the Mexican again.

4) Hozumi Hasegawa – Hidden away in Japan, Hasegawa is a sharp punching southpaw who put former champion Veeraphol Sahaprom to sleep. He recently bested Genaro Garcia and his herky-jerky style will give fits to any one who steps in the ring with him.

5) Masomori Tokuyama – Tokuyama has never shied away from a good fight and although he only fought once in 2006 (UD12 Jose Navarro), he ledger shows wins over Katsushige Kawashima (twice), Gerry Penalosa (twice) and In Jin Chi (twice). A fight with Hozumi Hasegawa is a distinct possibility in 2007.

6) Nobuo Nashiro – With only seven fights under his belt he took on WBA champion Martin Castillo – and defeated him. Although he’s only fought a total of nine fights, nearly all have been against quality opposition. A victory in a rematch with Castillo would cement his claim as the king of the 115-pound division.

7) Yukata Niida – This light-hitting minimumweight defended his title twice in 2006, winning a technical decision against unbeaten Eriberto Gejon (Tech Win 10) and the other on points over Ronald Barrera (W 12). Scheduled to meet Katsunari Takayama early next year – the best has yet to come for this WBA belt holder.

8) In Jin Chi – Won back the title he lost to Takashi Koshimoto in January from Rudolfo Lopez. While there’s little uncertainty to his skills, at thirty-three, 2007 may provide some insight as to just how much he has left.

9) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai –Sor Nonthachai is an exciting, top-shelf fighter with an iron chin. Has no trouble making mincemeat of mid-level opposition and deserves a title shot in 2007. Time is running out.

10) Rey Bautista – He’s young, relatively inexperienced in big-time boxing, but will continue to shine in 2007. One of the better prospects in boxing, he should snag a title in 2007.

Asian Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pound for Pound:

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #2

Jr. Lightweight

Manny Pacquiao (Philippines): #1
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9

Featherweight

Chris John (Indonesia) #1
In Jin Chi (Korea) #3
Takashi Koshimoto (Japan) #5
Hioyuki Enoki (Japan) #7

Jr. Featherweight

Somsak Sithchatchawal (Thailand) #4

Bantamweight

Hozumi Hasegawa (Japan) #2
Veeraphol Sahaprom (Japan) #3
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin (Thailand) #6
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Thailand) #10

Jr. Bantamweight

Nobuo Nashiro (Japan) #1
Katsushige Kawashima (Japan) #7
Pramuansak Phosuwan (Thailand) #10

Flyweight

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Thailand) #1
Takefumi Sakata (Japan) #7
Daisuke Naito (Japan) #10

Jr. Flyweight

Koki Kameda (Japan) #1

Minimumweight

Yukata Naiida (Japan) #2
Eagle Kyowa (Japan/Thai) #4
Katsunari Takayama (Japan) #5
Rodel Mayol (Philippines) #7

Boxing in Thailand

There’s no shortage of boxers in Thailand. With a huge pool of Muay Thai fighters to draw from and several talented amateur boxing prospects turning pro after the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Thailand seems destined to remain a boxing powerhouse in Asia.

The country is known for having tough, determined and disciplined fighters who give their all whenever the step in to the ring. However, consistently losing while fighting abroad and padding their records with no-hopers has done nothing to enhance their reputation.

Whether because of a lack of marketability, a lack of funds or their unwillingness to travel abroad, the vast majority of boxers from Thailand remain a mystery to fans in the west. If anything though, the boxing scene involving Thai fighters will be active. In fact, it’s one of the most active in the world; since 2000, the number of fights has nearly doubled in the country.

The Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand – August 2006

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
2) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym
3) Somsak Sithchatchawal
4) Wandee Singwancha
5) Sirimongkol Singwancha
6) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai
7) Veeraphol Sahaprom
8) Pramuansak Phosuwan
9) Terdsak Jandaeng
10) Oleydong Sithamerchai

Current Sweet Science P4P Rankings – Thailand

1) Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (Flyweight) – Definitely the top dog in Thailand

2) Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai (Super Lightweight) – He’s a seasoned fighter who has proven himself in the big-time. He’s one Thai who can fight outside of Asia. He has an abundance of skills and one-punch power. His overall ability and ease in dispatching anyone other than championship caliber get him the runners-up spot.

3) Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym (Super Bantamweight) – After losing to Vladimir Sidorenko he’s bounced back. He’s young, he can punch, but the former interim champion needs to prove himself against a name fighter.

4) Somsak Sithchatchawal (Super Bantamweight) – Was his win over Monshipour a fluke or was Celestino Caballero just that good? Did Sithchatchawal catch Monshipour at the right time and can he rebound from the devastating loss? The jury is still out.

5) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

5) Sirimongkol Singwancha (Super Lightweight) – Get this guy a fight. He’s better than Jose Armando Santa Cruz and would have beat up Inada had the fight taken place. He’ll fight anyone but his biggest obstacle is staying motivated fighting tomato cans in Thailand. Like many Thais, he needs a fight against a name opponent.
6) Wandee Singwancha (Flyweight) – He doesn’t have much of a punch which will be his downfall in the end. He can box, as was evidenced in his recent victory over Juanito Rubillar, but this won’t be enough. He can no longer make the Jr. Flyweight limit and with no punch he’ll have a hard time competing against the “big boys.” Although he’s now rated second by the WBC, he doesn’t deserve to be.

7) Pramuansak Phosuwan (Super Flyweight) – A genuine tough guy. Always calm and focused no matter how heated the battle. But at thirty-eight, he’ll be in trouble should he fight one of the division’s elite.
8) Veeraphol Sahaprom (Bantamweight) – Will be lucky to get another crack at the title. Although he has a puncher’s chance of winning a belt, that’s about all he has left at this point. A third shot at Hasegawa is unlikely.

9) Oleydong Sithamerchai (Minimumweight) – He’s fought better than the usual opponents faced by Thais at his level and he moves up one spot with the departure of Terdsak Jandaeng. He lacks the punch and is in the wrong division to become a superstar. He’ll need to defeat a name opponent to convince me.

10) Saenghiran Lookbanyai / Napapol Kittisakchokchai (Super Bantamweight) – These two square-off in early March, supposedly to see who deserves a shot at Israel Vasquez. Kittisakchokchai has the edge in experience but some feel Lookbanyai has the edge in heart and is the favorite.

Neither has defeated a top twenty fighter and yet are ranked number one and two respectively in the WBC’s world.

In Kittisakchokchoi’s lone shot at the big-time, he was TKO’d in 10 by Oscar Larios. His dreadful performance against Larios and lack of quality opposition leads me to believe Saenghiran might have more of a shot at beating him than some suspect. Regardless, neither of them lasts longer than six rounds with Israel Vasquez.

Honorable Mention: Wethya Sakmuangklang, Denkaosan Kaovichit, Devid Lookmahanak, Nethra Sasiprapa, Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, Pornsawan Kratingdaenggym

Thai Fighters Ranked in Ring Magazine

Pongsaklek Wonjongkam: #1 Flyweight
Pramuansak Phosuwan: #10 Jr. Bantamweight
Veeraphol Sahaprom: #3 Bantamweight
Ratanachai Sor Vorapin: #6 Bantamweight
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym: #10 Bantamweight
Somsak Sithchatchawal: #3 Jr. Featherweight
Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai: #9 Lightweight

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Articles of 2006

Iceman Stops Tito Ortiz Win Streak

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LAS VEGAS—UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck “Iceman” Liddell’s fists proved too much for Huntington Beach’s Tito Ortiz who was stopped in the third round before a sold out crowd at the MGM Garden Arena on Saturday.

The punching machine Liddell (20-3, 13 KOs) repeated his victory in UFC 66 over the much-improved grappler Ortiz who has improved his punching and blocking. Ortiz was trying to avenge his loss of April 2004.

Despite all the new weapons displayed by Ortiz it wasn’t enough as Liddell pummeled the former champion and retained his title with a technical knockout at 3:59 of the third round. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bout.

“This was the most satisfying victory of my career,” said Liddell, 36, of Santa Barbara. “Tito came back real tough.”

Ortiz (15-5, 8 KOs), a former wrestler, worked on his boxing technique knowing he would need it against the former boxer Liddell. But Liddell’s experience allowed him to find the right moment to pounce on Ortiz.

“I had him hurt, I just kept throwing punches,” said Liddell who also knocked down Ortiz in the first round with a left hook.

Ortiz was gracious in defeat.

“Chuck is the best fighter Pound for Pound in the (mixed martial arts) world,” said Ortiz, 31, who suffered a gash on the side of his left eye from a punch. “I’m disgusted by myself. I let my fans down.”

Other bouts

Underdog Keith Jardine (12-3-1) knocked out Forrest Griffin (13-4) at 4:41 of the first round in their light heavyweight showdown. A right uppercut followed by a left hook wobbled Griffin who was sent to the floor by a barrage of punches. On the ground Jardine landed right after right until referee John McCarthy stopped the fight for a technical knockout.

“I couldn’t believe he was hurt,” said Jardine about Griffin who is known for his resiliency. “I was so nervous coming into this fight, but now I know I belong here.”

Canada’s Jason McDonald (18-7) choked out Chris Leben (15-3) in a middleweight bout that was up for grabs. Though Leben seemed to control the fight with stunning left hands, once the fight went to the ground McDonald managed a chokehold at 4:03 of the second round. Referee Steve Mazagatti saw Leben was unconscious and stopped the fight.

Former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski (12-5) caught Brazil’s Mario Cruz (2-2) with a sneak right hand while both were tangled on the ground. Then the Belarusian pummeled Cruz until referee Herb Dean stopped the fight at 3:15 of the first round.

Third season winner of the Ultimate Fighter television reality season Michael Bisping (12-0) of Great Britain won by technical knockout over Eric Shafer (9-2-2) at 4:29 of the first round. A knee knocked Shafer groggy then Bisping knocked him to the ground and pounded him. Referee Mario Yamasaki stopped the bludgeoning.

Thiago Alves (16-4) caught Peru’s Tony De Souza (15-5) with a knee as he attempted to dive for his legs in a welterweight contest. After that it was pretty much over as Alves pummeled De Souza at 1:10 of the second round forcing referee John McCarthy to halt the bout.

Gabriel Gonzago (7-1) proved too strong for Carmelo Marrero (6-1) in a heavyweight bout. At 3:22 of the first round Gonzago of Massachusetts manipulated his way into arm bar forcing Pennsylvania’s Marrero to tap out.

Japan’s Yushin Okami (19-3) pounded Georgia’s Rory Singer (11-6) into submission at 4:03 of the third round of a middleweight bout. Okami seemed the more-rounded fighter with effective kicks to the head and more accurate punching.

Christian Wellisch (8-2) jumped to a quick start with an accurate left hook that rattled Australia’s Anthony Perosh (5-3) in a heavyweight bout. During the first round it seemed the Sacramento fighter might end the fight but the Aussie hung tough. Wellisch won by unanimous decision.

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