By Ron Jackson
Former South African lightweight champion Gladstone Mahlo who fought as a professional from 1948 to 1954 died on Monday at the age of 85. Mahlo, a skillful fighter who fought under the nickname of “Homicide Hank”, made his pro debut on March 13, 1948 when he stopped Fly Mohloheli in the fifth round and then scored wins over Tiger Kelly, Sammy Phillips and Kid Coco to complete a successful first year in professional boxing.
In February 1949, he was stopped in six rounds by Paul Mononyane in a challenge for the Transvaal lightweight title, but then made amends by winning against Tiger Kelly and stopping Mononyane in a return match to win the Transvaal lightweight title.
In his first fight in 1950 he lost to Kid Coco when the fight was stopped in the fourth round due a badly cut lip.
After this setback he beat Percy Wilkinson and Kid Coco in a clash for the vacant SA lightweight title; and scored stoppage wins over Sonny Thomas and Kid Leopard.
The year 1951 proved to be his most successful year in the pro ranks. After dropping a six round points decision to Johannes Mahlangu, he scored wins over Theo Mthembu (SA title defence), Ned van Reenan, Rocky Ramiah (SA title defence), Kista Govender (SA title defence) and Wally Thompson.
In 1952 he made a successful defense of the SA title against Percy Wilkinson but then lost the championship to Johannes Mahlangu on points in July before deciding to campaign in England.
However, this venture was not all that successful as he lost to fellow South African Alby Tissong in Liverpool and won and lost to Irishman Ricky McCullogh.
After losing an eight round points decision to Danny Hurley at the Epson Baths in Surrey he returned to South Africa.
In 1954 he lost to Gabriel Seleke and outpointed Morgan Mogale before being stopped in the tenth round by Elijah Mokone on December 28 in a challenge for the SA lightweight title.
This was his last fight as he finished with a record of 18 wins, 9 losses and 8 wins inside the distance.