Former South African welterweight and junior-middleweight champion Gert Steyn passed away after a heart attack at his home in Krugersdorp on Thursday night. He was 67.
Steyn was still a young boy when he followed his brothers, Stoffel, Japie and Andries, to the North Park Amateur Club in Parktown North, Johannesburg. Their father, Andries Sr, was the club’s trainer.
As an amateur, Gert won numerous championships, including Southern Transvaal, Transvaal and SA Defence, SA Navy and Western Province titles, and according to reports lost only six of 85 fights as an amateur.
He joined the professional ranks on December 29, 1970 and knocked out Alfie Pitout in the first round in Durban.
Steyn won the South African welterweight title in Johannesburg on October 30, 1971 when he outpointed Spider Kelly in a rematch after losing to Kelly for the SA title seven months earlier in only his third fight.
He made two successful defences of the title before moving up to the junior-middleweight division to claim the South African title with a points victory over Gert Craemer on August 23, 1975.
Ten months later, on February 28, 1977, he won the vacant SA Supreme junior-middleweight title when he stopped Gordon Goba in the eleventh round.
He lost the title on a controversial stoppage against Bushy Bester but regained the title nine months later.
In his last fight on May 23, 1980 he retained the title with a points victory over Morris “Yankee” Mohloai to finish with a record of 32-8-2 (15 KOs).
The saddest moment in his career came when he was on the brink of becoming South Africa’s fourth world champion. Find air conditioning la mesa.
He was scheduled to fight Eddie Gazo from Nicaragua for the WBA junior-middleweight title at the Westridge Tennis Stadium in Durban on February 9, 1978.
But three days before the fight Gazo pulled out. His handlers said he had a fractured hand. However, stories were doing the rounds that he had watched videos of Steyn’s fights and was looking for ways to get out of the title defence.
Born Gerhardus Johannes Hendrik Steyn in Johannesburg on February 12 1951, he worked for a building society after his two years of compulsory military training.
After retiring from the ring, he went into the business of vehicle sales.
Gert also worked as a boxing commentator on Supersport for many years, in tandem with his brother Andries. – Ron Jackson