The boxer who never gives up

Most boxing fans know Jacob “Dancing Shoes” Morake. He is the boxer who fights like Mohammed Ali. He dances around the ring. And he punches very quickly.

He is also the boxer with scars all over his body. He got burnt in a fire accident when he was young.

Jacob “Dancing Shoes” Morake is the Transvaal junior lightweight champion. “Dancing Shoes” fights hard in the ring. He has won 60 fights. He has only lost 4 fights.

Outside the ring, “Dancing Shoes” is also a fighter. He fights the problems of life bravely. And ‘Dancing Shoes’ has had many problems to fight.

His problems started when he was only eight years old. “One morning I was at home with my sister Ommie”, says ‘Dancing Shoes’. “My parents had left for work.

I decided to make a fire in our coal stove. But the wood was wet. So I poured some paraffin over the wood to make it burn easier. I lit a match. A huge flame jumped up at me.

My clothes caught fire. I ran outside screaming. The neighbours came to help me. They put out the fire and called an ambulance. I spent 3½ years in hospital”.

In hospital ‘Dancing Shoes’ had a lot of time to think. He thought about his life carefully. He decided to become a boxer. “I always loved boxing” says ‘Dancing Shoes’. “When I was young, I watched a lot of Mohammed Ali fights. Ali was my hero. I wanted to be a great boxer like him”.

After ‘Dancing Shoes’ left hospital, he started boxing at Jabulani Men’s Hostel in Soweto. But his parents were not happy. They did not want him to box. “I did not tell them I was boxing” says ‘Dancing Shoes’.

In those days, I threw my boxing things out the window. Then I told them I was going to visit some friends. I went outside and fetched my boxing things. When I came home, I hid my boxing things in the coal box in the backyard”.

The Jabulani Men’s Hostel did not have a proper gym. “The gym did not have a boxing ring” says “Dancing Shoes”. “We made a ring out of old benches. We did not have a trainer. All we had was an old, broken punching bag”.

Then ‘Dancing Shoes’ had another big problem. Boxing officials did not want him to box. ‘Dancing Shoes’ says: “The scars on my body made them worry. They said to me:” “Listen Jacob, go home before you get hurt!”

But ‘Dancing Shoes’ did not go home. He wanted to be a boxer. He waited for four years before the boxing officials let him fight.

‘Dancing Shoes’ surprised everybody. He fought like a lion. In two years, he had 40 amateur fights. An amateur boxer is a boxer who doesn’t fight for money. “Dancing Shoes” only lost one amateur fight.

In 1974 ‘Dancing Shoes’ decided to become a professional boxer. A professional boxer is a boxer who fights for money. Boxing officials were not happy again. They did not want him to get hurt.

But again ‘Dancing Shoes’ did not give up. After a while, the boxing officials gave up. They let him box.

‘Dancing Shoes’ was happy. He was doing what he loved to do. And he was making a bit of money as well.

But lie was not happy for long. Once again, the problems of life knocked him down. In 1977, ‘Dancing Shoes’ got terrible pains in the neck. Doctors said he got the pains because of the fire accident.

‘Dancing Shoes’ went back to hospital. He spent six months in hospital this time.

Six months is a long time for any boxer. A boxer needs to exercise every day. A boxer cannot fight unless he is very fit.

“Dancing Shoes” came out of hospital. He went back to the Jabulani Men’s Hostel. He started all over again. He punched that old punch bag until he was strong again.

In November last year, “Dancing Shoes” won the Transvaal title from Joseph “Skiet” Tsotetsi. And last month he beat Brim Mitchell to keep the title. But he is still not happy. “I won’t stop until I win the South African title from Evans “Zuko Gwiji” says ‘Dancing Shoes.

Jacob ‘Dancing Shoes’ is a true champion. He is a champion inside the ring. And he is a champion outside the ring. He is a boxer who never gives up.

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