One of South Africa’s most scientific and talented fighters, former South African lightweight champion Aladin Stevens, who fought as a professional from 1979 to 1992, has fallen on hard times.
The 61-year-old Stevens, who lives in matchbox house in Toekomsrus, Randfontein, has very little means of income except for a small disability pension from the State.
Stevens never fought as an amateur and was more keen on playing soccer but was taught to box by his father in the backyard of the house where they lived in Newclare,
Subsequently the family moved to Toekomsrus in Randfontein where he completed standard eight at the local school. As a South African champion he lived well, owning a number of luxury cars, but those days of glory have long gone and he only has the faded memories.
Adding to his woes was the damage to his legs after a shooting incident by a police officer in November 1995. Even though he made numerous attempts to claim compensation through his attorneys for the injuries, this has come to naught.
Stevens, a southpaw, was an outstanding fighter and trained by Oom Andries Steyn and his son, Andries, throughout his career.
He made his professional debut at the Wembley Sports Indoor Complex in Springfield, Johannesburg on 28 April 1979 with a four-round points win over Deon Labuschagne.
Stevens won his next five fights in style before losing on points over six rounds to Jerome Gumede. He then compiled a six-fight winning streak which included a sixth-round technical knockout win over former South African featherweight champion Tsietse Maretloane, before winning the vacant Transvaal lightweight title against Evans Gwiji, a former SA junior lightweight champion.
On 13 February 1982 at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg he outpointed the more experienced Peet Bothma (29-9-2) to win the South African lightweight title.
He would make successful defences of the SA title against Rodney Botha, Jerome Gumede and Chris Whiteboy on two occasions and also score victories over three Argentinians.
After fighting to a draw in his second fight with Whiteboy, he lost to Brian Baronet (ko 3) and Brian Mitchell (pts 8); and then made a successful defence of the SA title against Job Sisanga with a draw over 12 rounds.
However, in a return match a little more than three months later he lost the title to Sisanga on a 12-round majority points decision. Judges Alfred Monareng and Clement Martin scored the fight 118-115 and 116-114 for Sisanga and judge Granville Gorton had it a draw at 115-115.
After another two wins he fought to a draw with Nika Khumalo in a challenge for the SA lightweight title and in a return also for the title he lost on points over 12 rounds.
In October 1987 Stevens won on a ninth-round technical knockout over Bushy Mosoeu to win the Transvaal lightweight title and after another four victories travelled to Madrid, Spain, fighting to a draw against the much heavier Carlos Sole.
On 18 September 1998 he beat Nika Khumalo for the first time in their trilogy to regain the South African lightweight title. After making successful defences of the SA title against Luvuyo Kakaza on two occasions, Walter Mpungosa and Cassius Mabuya, he beat the 61-fight veteran, Roberto Rubaldino of Mexico.
In his next fight the up-and-down story with the South African lightweight title continued when in October 1989 he lost the title to Abram Gumede on a split decision, only to regain it nine months later with a tenth-round stoppage over Gumede.
After a successful defence of the title against Grant Messias (pts12) he travelled to Lerado, Texas, fighting to a ten-round draw with the Texan, Edward Parker, in the open air on an extremely hot day.
The final defence of the SA title was against Bongani Shezi in Durban on a seventh-round technical knockout before losing the title on a split decision in his last fight on 9 June 1992 against Danny Myburgh at the Carousel Casino in Hammanskraal.
This was one of the most controversial decisions ever given in a South African title fight, with judges Abri Schutte and Wally Snowball scoring it 116-114 and 115-114 for Myburgh, and judge Alfred Buqwana having it 116-114 for Stevens.
In the Boxing World magazine of August 1992 Gavin Evans wrote: “Watching the fight at ringside I made the champion (Stevens) a clear three-point winner. The fight had three stages. Stevens dominated the early rounds. Myburgh came back in the middle rounds with his higher work rate, and then Stevens stormed back to dominate the 11th, and drop Myburgh in the 12th. It was notable there was virtual unanimity amongst the boxing writers at ringside”.
This was a rather sad finish for Stevens who held a high rating in the World Boxing Association rankings as a contender for the lightweight title at one time, and he was also voted the King Korn/SA Boxing World Fighter of the Year in 1982. Stevens has the record of having taken part in 19 South African lightweight title fights, more than any other fighter, with Enoch “Schoolboy” Nhlapo a close second with 17.
He finished with an outstanding record of 43 wins (with 19 inside the distance), seven losses and six draws; and his only inside-the-distance loss was against Brian Baronet.