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Mandela favorite boxer 'Baby Jake' laid to rest

AP - Sports

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) -- Standing just 4-foot-10, Jacob Matlala rose from early hardship in Soweto to become a four-time world champion and one of South Africa's most popular sportsmen.

He also was a favorite fighter of former President Nelson Mandela, who boxed in his youth before becoming the leader of the anti-apartheid movement.

Matlala died last Saturday at 51 after a struggle with lung problems, passing two days after Mandela. He was buried on Friday in Johannesburg, two days before Mandela's state funeral.

Even in the midst of its mourning for the beloved statesman, South Africa made sure to also remember ''Baby Jake'' this week.

Mandela's ANC party says Matlala showed the same characteristics that the former president famously embodied.

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