By Ron Jackson
Mlungisi Dlamini, one of South Africa’s most promising fighters, has been killed in a motorcar accident near Harrismith in KwaZulu-Natal. The 27-year-old WBF and IBO lightweight champion died last Friday. Mlungisi, who had a record of 22 wins, a draw and 14 knockouts, was scheduled to challenge Paulus Moses for the WBA lightweight belt in April.
Born Mlungisi Mxolisi Innocent Dlamini in Bergville on May 29, 1982, Dlamini made his professional debut in Mandini in September 2000 with a four-round points victory over Ernest Makhathini.
In 2001 The Shark, as he was later nicknamed, beat Nkanyiso Mbatha and Jerome Cebekhulu in a fight that brought him the KZN featherweight title.
He then drew with Mzingayi Poni in the only blemish on his unbeaten record.
In 2002 he beat Sizwe Nkosi and Innocent Mthalane but he was inactive in 2003 and his career seemed to be grinding to a halt when he had only two fights in 2004.
However, in 2005 he moved to Johannesburg and joined trainer Warren Hulley. Suddenly his career took off.
He won seven fights in a row before capturing the vacant World Boxing Foundation lightweight belt with an outstanding fifth-round stoppage win over the seasoned Ivan Orlando Bustos in Nelspruit.
Dlamini made successful defences against Jairo Demoura Dos Santos, Diego Martin Alzugaray, Gairy St Clair and Francisco Lorenzo.
Possibly his best performance was in October last year when he knocked out the experienced Zolani Marali in the fourth round at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park to win the vacant IBO lightweight belt.
Marali had held IBO junior featherweight, Word Boxing Foundation junior featherweight, World Boxing Foundation junior lightweight and IBO junior lightweight belts.
WBF president Howard Goldberg expressed his shock and sadness when he was informed of Dlamini’s death.
“Dlamini was a fantastic person and a brilliant boxer, destined for great things. He must be remembered for the good person he was, as well as all the good he brought to the boxing game,” Goldberg said.
“He thrilled and entertained fans and he will never be forgotten. It has been a privilege for me to have known Mlungisi and to have watched his fantastic skills”.
An emotional Warren Hulley said Dlamini had been very close to him. He was proud that he had nurtured him and had taken him from an ordinary fighter to a potentially great champion.
Dlamini’s progress was still “unfinished business,” Hulley added. “He who would have gone on to win a recognised world title, without a shadow of doubt.”
My last memory of Mlungisi, whom I knew well, was when he stepped out of the ring at Emperors Palace on the night of October 31 last year after his sensational knockout of Marali. I was the first person he walked up to and he greeted me with a tap of his sweaty boxing glove on my shoulder.