In the afternoon of the 4th April 2018, South Africans and the broader boxing community received the sad news about the passing away of the former Transvaal and South African Super Lightweight boxing champion Norman ‘Sekgapane!!!
‘Pangaman’ as the pugnacious Norman Sekgapane was affectionately known, was born on 12 March 1948 at Koster in what is now the North West province. His family later moved to Soweto in Gauteng, where he started his boxing career at Tladi Boxing Club.
According to sport writers he got the name ‘Pangaman’ from his textbook style of fighting. He cut his opponents down with a steady rain of accurate blows, reminiscent of a Pangaman at work.
Interestingly, this very day that his soul departed this world, 4th of April, is the exact day on which he debut as a professional boxer 48 years ago when he outpointed Lloyd Zulu on 4 April 1970 at Natalspruit, in the East Rand. Pangaman made history on 17 August 1974 at Rand Stadium when he orchestrated a 9th round stoppage against, Jorgen Hansen of Denmark in what was to become the first ever ‘multi-racial’ boxing tournament in South Africa. Pangaman had an illustrious boxing career that covered 69 fights, 53 of which he won. He was brave fighter who never ran away from any opponent. This is evidenced by the caliber of boxers he fought, which include among others powerful names like Nkosana ‘Happy Boy’ Mqxaji, Tsietsi Maretloane, Evans ‘Kid Jaguar’ Gwiji, Harold ‘The hammer’ Volbrecht and Anthony ‘Blue Jaguar’ Morodi and Ben ‘TNT’ Lekalake.
Many boxing fans in Mafikeng still have fond memories of his fight against Antonio ‘Kid Pambele’ Cervantees of Colombia at the Mmabatho Independence Stadium on 26 August 1978. His attempts to win the WBA World Super Flyweight Title in front of 8000 people were unfortunately not successful.
Most boxing analysts attribute this failed attempt to win the World Title to a deliberate plot by the then racially repressive system. To date, there is still no justifiable explanation why Pangaman was only afforded a world title shot so late into his career, instead of much earlier during his hey days. It’s interesting to note that on 5 June 1976, just a mere eleven days before the historical June 16 uprisings in Soweto Pangaman squared up against Ben TNT Lekalake at Jabulani Amphitheatre in Soweto in a 10 rounds bout which he won in points. It remains a subject of speculation as to what else might have occurred in that hall despite and beyond just a fistic festival.
Boxing South Africa joins our community in conveying condolences to the family and friends of Sekgapane as well as the multitudes of our pugilist family around the world as we celebrate the exemplary life of this unsung hero!
More details regarding his bereavement arrangements as well as memorial service will be made known in due course after guidance has been received from the family.
Robala ka kgotso Pangaman, Rest in Peace Norman Sekgapane !