Maxwell Mduduzi Malinga, was one of South Africa’s most talented and popular fighters in the 1970s. He was born on 09 November 1947 at Steadville, Ladysmith. A former South African welterweight and middleweight champion, Malinga was an uncle of Thulani Malinga, a former WBC super-middleweight champion.
His boxing career started at the age of 17 when he won the Natal Midlands lightweight title. He also won two Natal titles before making his professional debut at the Steadville stadium on July 27, 1968 when he crushed Phutuma Khuboni in the third round.
His interest in boxing was stimulated by his uncle Titus Ntombela, who had boxed as an amateur.
Malinga turned professional in July 1968. Although he lost two of his first five fights, he remained undefeated in his next eight fights before losing to Enoch Nhlapo, a three-time national champion and one of the greats in SA boxing history. In October 1973, Malinga won the vacant SA welterweight title when he stopped Mackeed Mofokeng.
In October 1974, in possibly the best performance of his career, he crushed former WBA junior welterweight champion Eddie Perkins over ten rounds. After he had defended the national welterweight title three times, he lost it to Morris Mohloai in May 1975 and couldn’t regain it in a rematch in November the same year.
When he moved up to middleweight in 1977, he won the vacant South African title (in June) when he defeated Victor Ntloko. It was in 1978 when he lost on points to Elijah Makhathini in a non-title fight. His middleweight crown was lost to Daniel Mapanya.
Ron Jackson wrote “There were striking similarities between Muhammad Ali and Maxwell Malinga, one of the most talented and popular SA fighters in the 1970s. Malinga, just as Ali had been, was well known for producing attention-grabbing quotes before a fight as he tried to “psyche out” his opponents. He also converted to Islam, as his hero had done. His charm and an engaging smile helped make him a cult figure in the Natal province, now KwaZulu-Natal”.
He made history in 1996 by becoming the South African fighter ever to win the WBC super-middleweight belt, which he annexed from British star Nigel Benn. Unable to stay away from boxing, he also trained fighters and promoted tournaments under the banner of Starline Promotions. Amongst the people whom he inspired to take up boxing are, Vusumuzi, Patrick, Mthokozisi and Faizel Malinga – who have managed to keep the home fires burning in KwaZulu Natal.
A brilliant defender, who could stand toe-to-toe with his opponents and make them miss, he hardly experienced a dull moment in his boxing career.
Malinga’s impressive boxing career records as follows:
41 wins (11 KO)
3 draws and 12 wins inside the distance.
Thanks to his exceptional skills. Let us celebrate this legend.