By Ron Jackson
Former SA light-heavyweight champion Dawie du Preez has died in a Johannesburg hospital. He was 67 years old. Many boxing enthusiasts will remember him for his sensational first-round knockout of Mike Schutte, who later became the SA heavyweight champion. The two met at what was then known as the Goodwood Showgrounds in Cape Town on January 28 1974.
Schutte, who had lost only one of his 18 fights – on a disqualification to Johnny Britz – and had won 12 inside the distance, was the overwhelming favourite.
Early in the opening round, Du Preez caught Schutte with a perfect right to the jaw that sent him down and out, flat on his face. In a return match, six months later at the same venue, the bigger and stronger Schutte beat Du Preez inside three rounds.
Du Preez fought the best around during his time, including SA champions Jan “Happy” Pieterse, who died at the end of May, aged 71, and Kosie Smith. He also fought heavyweight champions Sarel Aucamp and Jimmy Richards.
He was inactive from August 1969 to February 1973 when he beat Doug de Wet over eight rounds. Having relocated to the Western Cape, Du Preez stopped De Wet in five rounds in a return match to claim the provincial light-heavyweight title.
David Jonathan du Preez, who was born in Roodeport on the West Rand, made his professional debut on May 2 1966 when he drew over four rounds with Pat Breedt. He won the vacant SA light-heavyweight title at the Portuguese Hall in Johannesburg on September 14 1974 when Gerrie Bodenstein was disqualified in the second round.
Bodenstein battered Du Preez around the ring for the first five minutes, but twice lost his composure when he had Du Preez on the canvas.
In the first round he continued throwing punches while Du Preez was down. And in the second, when Du Preez was down and bleeding from the mouth, Bodenstein hit him three times while he was on the canvas. Referee Chris Myburgh had no option but to disqualify him.
However, Du Preez lost the title in his first defence when he fought Kosie Smith at the City Hall in Durban on January 13 1975.
What was expected to be an exciting contest, turned into a brawl. Du Preez went down twice in the seventh round, holding his arm and telling referee Jack Bryant that Smith had twisted his arm in a clinch. Bryant ignored his plea.
Du Preez ran across the ring and accused Smith’s cornerman, Alan Toweel, of instructing his fighter to break his arm. He then made his way back to the centre of the ring. But in the mean time, Bryant had continued counting and reached ten because Du Preez had refused to box on.
Smith lost his temper and, from behind the referee, struck out at Du Preez. Suddenly all three men were on the canvas. Bryant eventually got up, signalled the fight was over and declared Smith the winner.
Du Preez never fought again and retired with a record of 15-9-2, including knockouts. He was a professional from 1966 to 1975 and died on June 20 2013.
Chris Greyvenstein wrote in his book The Fighters that Du Preez was a “deceptive-looking stringbean who was nearly in Kosie Smith’s class as a one-punch destroyer.”
But as was the case with his elder brother Tommy, who fought during Mike Holt’s era, he lacked the dedication to be a really good champion.