He is dubbed a boxing hero. Champion, Dingaan Thobela died on Monday, 29 April at age 57 years old. His family confirmed his passing saying they found him in his apartment in Mayfair, South of Johannesburg after missing for a few days.

In a statement by Department of Sport, Arts and Culture Minister Zizi Kodwa, Thobela was a multiple world boxing champion, having won the World Boxing Organization (WBO) and World Boxing Association (WBA) lightweight, and World Boxing Council (WBC) super-middleweight titles. The Rose of Soweto was also a recipient of the Andrew Mlangeni Green Jacket Award.

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A source at the Thobela house reveals he might have committed suicide. “He was not found at his apartment, but at one of his businesses and we think he might have overdosed on some medication,” the source says. “Dingaan was not okay. He was troubled and dealing with a lot in his life. But to restore his dignity, the family is not yet ready to discuss what might have transpired,” he adds. “But what I can say, is, we are suspecting he might have taken his own life.”

Thobela was a boxing hero and fought against Tony Lopez for the WBA lightweight title and against Glenn Catley to win the WBC super-middleweight title. Through his success and popularity, Thobela was one of the world’s standout fighters in the golden period of South African boxing. However, since his passing, some information from his alleged dark past has resurfaced.

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In 2019, former beauty queen Basetsana Kumalo published her memoir titled Bassie: My Journey of Hope where she reveals that Thobela had been an abusive lover towards her during their relationship. She revealed how he allegedly beat her so badly, she thought he would kill her. “I had to tell that part of my life. Gender-based violence is rife in the country,” she said in an interview. “It was very important for me to own that part of my life and give hope that I walked away. The best thing is to seek help, speak to church leaders, and speak to relatives.” Kumalo said she was shamed on being shamed because of her beauty queen status. Years later, she moved on and married former Mr South Africa, Romeo Kumalo whom she had children.

In the book, Kumalo also recounts her life journey, including her relationships with mentors like Nelson Mandela. She also shares the secrets of her success and all the lessons she’s learned along the way. She opens up about the pressures of her high-profile marriage to Romeo Kumalo and their heartbreaking struggle to have a family. She talks honestly about motherhood and maintaining a healthy work/life balance, and unpacks how she pays it forward through mentoring young people she has met along the way. She describes the legal battles she has had to wage to protect her name and her brand over the years. She gives a chilling account of the stalker who has harassed her for decades, and the spurious ‘sex tape’ allegation that rocked her family and almost destroyed her career. Her enthusiasm, humour, and hope infuse every page of her memoir, making it an intimate, inspiring, and entertaining account of a remarkable life. Efforts to reach the Thobela family have gone unsuccessful.

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