Willie Toweel

Willie Michael Toweel (6 April 1934 – 25 December 2017) was a boxer from South Africa, who won the bronze medal in the flyweight division (– 51 kg) at the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki, FInland.

Willie Toweel
Medal record
Men's Boxing
Representing  South Africa
Olympic Games
Bronze medal – third place 1952 Helsinki Flyweight

Personal lifeEdit

Willie was born in Benoni, and was the brother of Alan, Jimmy, Fraser, Vic, Maurice, Maureen Toweel and Antoinette Moussallem; and the uncle of Paul Toweel.

Amateur careerEdit

As an amateur, Willie won Junior and Senior South African boxing titles, and won the bronze medal at the 1952 Olympic Games. He lost to Nate Brooks of the United States, the eventual gold medalist.

1952 Olympic resultsEdit

Below are the results of Willie Toweel, a South African boxer who competed in the flyweight division at the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

  • Round of 32: defeated Kornel Molnar (Hungary) by decision, 3–0.
  • Round of 16: defeated Al Asuncion (Philippines) by decision, 2-1
  • Quarterfinal: defeated Han Soo-An (South Korea) by decision, 3–0.
  • Semifinal: lost to Nate Brooks (United States) by decision, 0–3. (was awarded a bronze medal)

Professional careerEdit

He began his professional career in 1953. After notching up a few wins, Willie fought Matthew Raaff for the vacant South African Bantamweight title at Feather Market Hall in Port Elizabeth, and knocked Raaff out in the seventh round. On 22 May 1954, Toweel outpointed Tony Lombard over 12 rounds to win the vacant South African Featherweight Title.

Winning his next ten fights, Willie challenged Robert Cohen for the World Bantamweight title. They fought on 3 September 1955, at Rand Stadium in Johannesburg. Toweel was knocked down three times in the second round, twice for three counts, and once for no count. Toweel fought back courageously, and was also knocked down in the tenth round. The hard-fought world title bout resulted in a 15-round draw, with Cohen retaining his world title.

Moving up a division to Lightweight, Toweel faced rival Johnny 'Smiler' Van Rensburg for the British Empire and South African Lightweight Titles. In their first encounter, Toweel lost, retiring in the ninth round with hand and ankle injuries. Over the span of their careers, they would fight each other another five times, Willie winning the next three bouts with Van Rensburg, and their final bout wit each other ending in a draw over 15 rounds.

Willie was affected by tragedy when he fought 21-year-old South African Hubert Essakow on 19 March 1956, in defense of his South African Featherweight Title. Essakow sustained fatal brain injuries in the fight, and died 52 hours later after losing to Toweel by 11th-round knockout. Willie, being a religious man, seriously considered retirement from boxing. He often held back his attack on many of his future opponents, in fear he might hurt them. Late in his career, in the same venue where he fought Essakow, he was disqualified in a bout against Jannie Botes for a low blow. Afterwards, he said during the fight his memories of Essakow came flooding back, and he just wanted to find an excuse to get out of the ring.

With his management team behind him, Toweel continued to box, and racked up another seven wins, with a draw against Van Rensburg. Willie then fought in England, and defeated Dave Charnley on points over 15 rounds to defend his British Empire Lightweight Title. Toweel won his next eight fights before losing to Frenchman Guy Gracia by TKO in the seventh round on 23 April 1958, in Kelvin Hall, Glasgow. Willie had unfortunately been suffering with bad sinusitis before the fight. Willie got revenge 10 months later, defeating Gracia on points in Cape Town, South Africa.

After defeating Van Rensburg for the final time in Salisbury, Toweel faced Dave Charnley again. Struggling to the Lightweight weight limit, Toweel lost his British Empire Lightweight title by getting knocked out in the tenth round.

Moving up to welterweight, Toweel fought Len Matthews at Madison Square Garden on 20 November 1959. He was the first South African to top the bill there. Despite being knocked down twice in the eighth round, Willie fought brilliantly and won on points. Willie was beaten on points for the first time, losing a 10-round decision to Wally Swift in Nottingham on 7 December 1959.

Following the Swift fight, Willie gained two more wins in South Africa, over Julio Silvo and Fred Tiedt before beating Benny Niewenhuizen for the vacant South African Welterweight title, to win his fourth national title. On 17 September 1960, Toweel was disqualified against Jannie Botes, and lost his title. In his last professional ring appearance, Toweel fought future World Welterweight and Middleweight champion Emile Griffith at Madison Square Garden on 22 October 1960. Willie started well in the bout, but was stopped in the eighth round. This was his last fight. Toweel retired from boxing at age 26, with a career record of 46 wins, six losses and two draws, with 23 knockouts.

45 Wins (23 knockouts, 22 decisions), 6 Losses (3 knockouts, 3 decision), 2 Draws[1]
Result Record Opponent Type Rounds Date Location Notes
Lost 45–6   Emile Griffith TKO 10 22 October September 1960  Madison Square Garden, New York, USA
Lost 45–5   Jannie Botes DQ 12 17 September 1960  City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 45–3   Benny Nieuwenhuizen PTS 12 27 August 1960  Market Hall, Welkom, Free State, South Africa
Win 44–3   Fred Tiedt PTS 10 16 July 1960  Icedrome, Durban, South Africa
Win 43–3   Julio Silvo KO 10 16 April 1960  Icedrome, Durban, South Africa
Lost 42–4   Wally Swift PTS 10 7 December 1959  Ice Rink, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Win 42–3   Len Matthews SD 10 20 November 1959  Madison Square Garden, New York, USA
Win 41–3   Paddy Graham TKO 10 3 October 1959  Empire Pool, Wembley, United Kingdom
Lost 40–3   Dave Charnley KO 15 12 May 1959  Empire Pool, Wembley, United Kingdom
Win 40–2   Johnny van Rensburg PTS 10 21 March 1959  Raylton Sports Club, Salisbury, Rhodesia
Win 39–2   Guy Gracia KO 10 24 February 1959  Green Point Stadium, Cape Town, South Africa
Win 38–2  Tony Garcia KO 10 19 November 1958  Goodwood Hall, Cape Town, South Africa
Lost 37–2   Guy Gracia TKO 10 23 April 1958  Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Win 37–1   Fernand Nollet PTS 10 25 March 1958  Earls Court Empress Hall, Kensington, United Kingdom
Win 36–1   Orlando Zulueta PTS 10 1 January 1958  Earls Court Empress Hall, Kensington, United Kingdom
Win 35–1   Al Nevarez PTS 10 30 November 1957   Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 34–1   Jose Hernandez TKO 10 5 November 1957  Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, United Kingdom
Win 33–1   Jimmy Carter PTS 10 8 October 1957  Royal Albert Hall, Kensington, United Kingdom
Win 32–1   Boby Ros PTS 10 6 September 1957  King's Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester, United Kingdom
Win 31–1   Billy Spider Kelly PTS 10 15 August 1957  Kelvin Hall, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Win 30–1   Dave Charnley PTS 15 11 May 1957  Earls Court Empress Hall, Kensington, United Kingdom
Win 29–1   Franco Rosini PTS 10 11 May 1957  Roan Mine Club, Luanshya, Zambia
Win 28–1   Johnny van Rensburg RTD 15 14 February 1957   Green Point Track, Cape Town, South Africa
Win 27–1   Richie Howard PTS 10 1 December 1956   Olympia Ice Rink, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 26–1   Richie Howard PTS 15 10 November 1956   Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 25–1   Georges DeVos PTS 10 6 October 1956   Olympia Ice Rink, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Draw 24–1   Johnny van Rensburg PTS 15 11 August 1956   Olympia Ice Rink, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 24–1   Johnny van Rensburg PTS 15 16 June 1956   Olympia Ice Rink, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 23–1   Tienie Pretorius TKO 10 19 March 1956   Roan Mine Club, Luanshya, Zambia
Win 22–1   Hubert Essakow KO 12 19 March 1956   City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Lost 21–1   Johnny van Rensburg RTD 15 10 December 1955   Olympia Ice Rink, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 21–0   Albert Mueller KO 10 19 November 1955   Davies Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Draw 20–0   Robert Cohen PTS 15 3 September 1955   Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 20–0   Tino Cardinale TKO 10 23 May 1955   City Hall, Durban, Natal, South Africa
Win 19–0   Henry Bruyns KO 12 23 April 1955   Kroonstad, Free State, South Africa
Win 18–0   Willie van der Merwe KO 8 9 April 1955   City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 17–0   Jean Bichot PTS 10 14 March 1955   Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 16–0   Louis Klopper RTD 12 7 February 1955   City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 15–0   Jerry Jooste TKO 8 13 December 1954   Raylton Sports Club, Salisbury, Rhodesia
Win 14–0   Andre Valignat PTS 10 6 November 1954   Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 13–0   Pappy Gault PTS 10 2 October 1954   Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 12–0   Gerry Britz TKO 10 2 September 1954   City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 11–0   Denny Dawson KO 10 30 June 1954   Olympia Ice Rink, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 10–0   Tony Lombard PTS 12 22 May 1954   City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 9–0   Gary Gordon TKO 8 8 May 1954   Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 8–0   Jackie O'Connor KO 12 9 March 1954   City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 7–0   Matthew Raaff TKO 12 26 October 1953   Feather Market Hall, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Win 6–0   Jerry Jooste RTD 8 3 October 1953   Rand Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 5–0   Kalla Persson KO 6 29 August 1953   Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 4–0   Bokkie Grobbler KO 6 5 August 1953   Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 3–0   Billy Lamberton PTS 6 24 July 1953   Olympia Ice Rink, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 2–0   Tiny Corbett KO 8 13 June 1953   City Hall, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Win 1–0   Jackie O'Connor PTS 4 5 September 1953   Wembley Stadium, Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Training careerEdit

Toweel trained Charlie Weir, and world champions Brian Mitchell and Thulani Malinga.[2]

Olympic resultsEdit

Later life and deathEdit

Willie lived in Randburg, South Africa, until his death on Christmas Day, 25 December 2017.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Willie Toweel". BoxRec. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  2. ^ Jackson, Ron. "Legend of SA boxing ring Toweel dies". SuperSport.

External linksEdit