By Ron Jackson
Former South African bantamweight champion Simon Skosana died in the Pholosong hospital in Tsakane near Springs on Monday after a short illness. He was 51. Simon who was born in Springs on December 29, 1957 won the SA bantamweight title on February 3, 1984 when he outpointed Phindile Gaika and made successful defences against Richard Smith, Fransie Badenhorst on two occasions, Phindile Gaika and Fundile Shuswana. He also won the Old Buck championship belt outright.
Tshipa, as Simon was known to his fans, could have become WBA bantamweight champion had the courageous little fighter been give a fair deal.
On the night of November 22, 1986, with the odds stacked against him, Skosana produced one of the gutsiest performances ever seen in a South African ring, when he was stopped in the fifteenth round by Bernardo Pinango of Venezuela.
The lack of professionalism among his handlers, the men who prepared him for the title challenge, has often been severely criticised. But the referee and others involved were also to blame for a thoroughly unsatisfactory evening.
There is no doubt that he got a raw deal all round, even before the fight.
It was going to be the last WBA title fight in South Africa for goodness knows how long because it had been announced that, because of the government’s apartheid policy, the organisation would not sanction any more title fights in the country.
There were probably no more than 7 000 people in the Rand Stadium that night. There should have been many more to see a courageous performance.
In September 1989 Simon had another crack at a “world” title when he went to San Juan, Puerto Rico to challenge American Kenny Mitchell for the WBO junior featherweight belt.
However, he was well past his best and was well beaten over 12 rounds.
After the fight he announced his retirement, but made a comeback in March 1995when he was outpointed over eight rounds by Bheki Dlamini.
He finished his career with a record of 32 wins, 5 losses and 13 wins inside the distance.
Tshipa – his ring name (it means “to pinch”) since his days as an amateur was living in KwaThema before his death and was unemployed.
The Old Buck Belt, which he won for successfully defending his SA bantamweight title three times, was long gone. He sold it because he needed the money.
My association with Simon goes back a long way as I presented him with the trophy for the King Korn Fight of the Year in 1987 which he was awarded for his fight with Fransie Badenhorst.
In May this year I had a long chat with Simon when we met up in Springs at the Silence Mabuza – Yohnny Perez fight.
Simon was a credit to the boxing game I will always remember for his humble a kind manner when you spoke to him.