By Ron Jackson
It has been reported that former Free State welterweight champion Joseph “Dark Destroyer” Lala has passed away. He was 64.
Lala who was born on October 10, 1954 and hailed from Bloemfontein in the Free State, where he made his pro debut on November 26, 1977, with a four rounds points win over Ephraim Mabena. He won the Free State welterweight title on November 26, 1977 in his fourth fight with a seventh round technical knockout win over Ben Mutle.
He had three cracks at winning the South African welterweight title, losing all three on closely contested fights, on points over 12 rounds aginst defending champion Harold Volbrecht.
In their first fight at the Vaal Showgrounds in Vereeniging, Volbrecht won on a split decision.
Many were of the opinion that Lala deserved the decision as judges Stan Christodoulou and Chris Myburgh scored it 116-114 and 117-114 for Volbrecht, with the third judge Alfred Buqwana having it 117-113 for Lala.
In the other two fights, Volbrecht was a clear winner on points on both occasions.
Lala had his last fight on March 4, 1989, a seventh round stoppage loss against Paul Toweel.
His first inside the distance loss came against Gerhard Botes a future South African middleweight champion.
His record of 30-11, 12 KOs, does not reflect the quality of this talented fighter as he scored victories over quality fighters like Mark van Winkel, Peet Bothma, Kostas Petrou and Herbie Vermeulen.
Most of his losses came against top class fighters like Fanie van Staden, Morris Mohloai, David Kambule, Charles Oosthuizen, Peter Mgojo and Phumzile Madikane a future South African junior-welterweight fighter.