Mike 'The Tank' Schutte dies

Former South African heavyweight boxing champion, Mike “The Tank” Schutte (57), passed away in Vanderbijlpark on July 14. He had been ill with cancer for some time, it was confirmed by boxing publicist Terry Pettifer.

Schutte, who was trained by the late Alan Toweel, will mostly be remembered for his epic fights with fellow South Africans Jimmy Richards, Kallie Knoetze and Gerrie Coetzee.
He was an underrated heavyweight who came within a whisker of fighting Muhammad Ali during the mid-seventies.

He won the SA heavyweight title from Richards in 1975 and lost the title to Coetzee the following year.

Schutte also fought and beat Cookie Wallace, Chuck Wepener, Joe “King” Roman, Obie English, Terry Hinke, Pat Duncan, Neil Malpass, Bill Carlson and Rudi Lubbers.

Schutte made his professional debut in May 1971 when he stopped Doug de Wet and remained undefeated in his next 13 fights before losing on a disqualification to Johnny Britz.

In the wars
His five-fight series with Richards were like wars. In 1972, Schutte outpointed Richards twice but lost to him in April 1974 and February 1975 when challenging for the national heavyweight title. On September 13 1975, in another memorable fight, he again beat Richards on points to become the champion.

In April 1977, in arguably the dirtiest fight in a South African ring, Schutte lost his title to a young Coetzee when he was disqualified in the sixth round.

In a return match in April 1977, he was outpointed over 12 rounds and in August the same year he was knocked out in the second round by Knoetze.

After beating Neil Malpass from England on June 18 1979, Schutte announced his retirement from the ring to finish with a record of 38 fights, nine defeats, two draws and 28 wins.

He later turned to professional wrestling and added to his fan base as a musical entertainer. He also appeared in television adverts and the comedy You Must Be Joking! in 1986.

No funeral details have been released. - Sapa

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