Hekkie Budler, who has won more titles than any other South African boxer and is also the only local fighter to be elevated to a “super” champion on two occasions, is hoping to return to action in October, according to his long-time trainer and manager Colin Nathan.
Born Hector Budler on May 18, 1988, he has won the following South Africa professional titles: IBO All Africa junior flyweight, IBO junior flyweight, IBO minimuweight, WBA interim minimumweight, WBA minimumweight, WBA “super” minimumweight, WBA Pan African junior flyweight, IBO light flyweight, WBA/IBF/Ring magazine light flyweight titles, and WBA “super” light flyweight title.
The shortest and smallest former world champion Budler, is a sporting giant who has become a South African icon.
Budler has compiled a record of 32-4; (10) and suffered his first inside-the-distance defeat as a professional in his last fight on December 31 last year in Macao, China, when he was stopped in the tenth round by Hiroto Kyaguchi to lose his WBA junior flyweight belt.
This was not the real Budler as he was suffering from asthma and battling to breathe before the fight was stopped.
He became only the second South Africa after Vic Toweel, who held the undisputed universal bantamweight world title in 1950, when he was presented with The Ring magazine championship belt.
In an outstanding amateur career, he is reported to have had 150 fights with only 10 losses, winning his first championship at 28kg in the Johannesburg Cadet championships.
As a cadet he won the South Africa championship on two occasions, and as a senior won the Johannesburg title and a provincial title.
When he won the light flyweight class at the 2005 South African amateur championships it was reported that he was the youngest amateur boxer in the history of South African boxing to win a national senior title. He has also taken part in 23 international fights as an amateur.
Budler had dreamed of staying in the amateur game and qualifying for the 2008 Olympics but found that politics in the sport at the time was too much to handle, so he decided to join the professional ranks.
He joined Colin Nathan at his Hot Box Gym in Glenhazel in 2007 and made his professional debut on July 5 at Emperors Palace near Kempton Park, scoring a first-round stoppage win over Michael Sediane.
His professional career took off as he won his first ten fights before out-pointing Charity Mukondeleli over 12 rounds to win the vacant IBO All Africa light flyweight title in October 2009.
In his next fight in February 2010 he captured his first world title with a points decision over Juanito Rubillar and, in a return match with Rubillar, he retained the belt, before losing it to Gideon Buthelezi in January 2011 to suffer his first loss.
Known as “The Hexecutioner” and with tattoos all over his body and a different colour hairstyle every time he steps into the ring, which has become his trademark, he has become a popular fan favourite at Emperors Palace where most of his fights have taken place.
Deciding to drop down to the minimumweight division, he won his second world title with a win over Michael Landero in September 2011 for the IBO belt.
After making three successful defences of the belt he retained it for the fourth time and added the interim WBA strawweight title to his collection after scoring a fourth-round stoppage victory against Hugo Vercheli.
In January 2014 the WBA elevated him to the full strawweight champion as he joined the select group of South Africans who have held three world titles.
Under the guidance of his trainer Nathan he has been moulded into a competent fighter.
This popular 31-year-old fighter, who is a people person, is loved by the boxing fans, but he has an unusual hobby and that is the collection of snakes and reptiles, which have fascinated him since the age of ten. However, it has been reported that he had to give up this hobby when got married.
A report on the Golden Gloves website aptly described Budler when they wrote “The Hexecutioner” is among SA’s most popular boxers, notwithstanding his diminutive size. A whirlwind of action and energy, he’s a fine defensive strategist who enjoys mixing it. A world champion in his own right, he will be looking to entrench himself as one of the division’s best fighters.