By Ron Jackson
Former SA junior featherweight and featherweight champion Stanford Ngcebeshe has died at the age of 51. Ngcebeshe, a southpaw known as “Baby Blue,” died at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital near Soweto last Tuesday.
He was born in Soweto on December 13 1961 and as an amateur trained at the well-known Dube Boyz Club. As a professional he was guided by Raymond Slack.
Ngcebeshe made his professional debut on March 12 1983 and knocked out Petrus Tshabalala in the third round at the Men’s Hostel in Alexandra near Johannesburg. He won seven of his next eight fights before claiming the vacant Transvaal junior featherweight title when he stopped Thozamile Gxabeka in Rustenburg on November 16 1985.
Ngcebeshe suffered his second loss as a professional when he was stopped in the ninth round of a fight against Zweli Ngcongolo in April 1986, failing to take over the SA junior featherweight title.
In a return match on December 20 1987, he stopped Ncongolo in the third round to claim title, which he lost to Ephrahim Lepota three months later. Moving up a division in November 1990, he beat Stanley Mathe in the ninth round to claim the vacant Transvaal featherweight title. On September 1 1991 he won his second national title when he beat Mxhosana Jongilanga in East London in a fight for the vacant featherweight belt. Ngcebeshe retained the title in two defences against Ernest Witbooi, against Lungu Dundu, against Witbooi again and David Afrika. But he lost to England’s Billy Hardy at Sun City in October 1994 in a challenge for the Commonwealth featherweight title.
In his last fight, on April 30 1995, at the Rabosotho Hall in Tembisa, he lost the SA featherweight title to Andrew Mathabola, who beat him on a split decision. He finished with a record of 27-10-2, including 11 wins inside the distance.
I attended many of Ngcebeshe’s fights and remember him as true gentleman inside and outside the ring.