Boxer who also set up the ring
Spectators who attend boxing tournaments seldom take much notice of equipment such as the ring lights, corner posts, the ring and other paraphernalia that go into setting up a successful show.
But when the fans go home, a tremendous amount of work has to be done. Someone has to dismantle all those things.
Shaik Osman, a fine flyweight and bantamweight, who also fought as a featherweight in the 1950s, later became a specialist in the setting up and taking down of all the equipment.
For many years he was a well-known figure at tournaments in KwaZulu-Natal, even though many of the younger people did not know what a smart fighter he had been.
Osman, who was trained by M Maistry, made his professional debut in Durban in September 1950. He won by first-round knockout against Ernie Simpson but lost on points to Peter Devereaux in his next fight.
He then beat Eddie Essil, Bandy Pillay and Dan Zulu in quick succession before losing on a first-round disqualification to the redoubtable Jake Tuli in November 1951.
Osman twisted his ankle as he came out of his corner after the first bell and, as he went down, Tuli caught him with a right to the head. Grimacing with pain, Osman clutched his ankle.
To everyone’s surprise, the referee disqualified him for going down without being hit.
In a return bout for Tuli’s SA bantamweight title, Osman lost a close decision over 12 rounds. The fight, on 30 May 1952, took place at the Bantu Men’s Social Centre in Eloff Street Extension, Johannesburg, a popular fight venue at the time.
Tuli, who had won the national flyweight title only three weeks before, later also won the British Empire flyweight crown and became possibly the greatest flyweight in the history of SA boxing.
One of Shaik’s toughest fights was against David “Slumber” Gogotya, who beat him on points. Gogotya had received much publicity after knocking down world bantamweight champion Vic Toweel in a sparring session.
At the time, the top promoters in Durban were Seaman Chetty, Nat Moodley and Benny Singh. Osman regularly featured on their bills.
He also sparred at Benny Singh’s gym against seasoned fighters such as Rocky Ramiah, Alby Tissong and Ligum Pillay.
Osman also sparred many rounds with Empire Games bronze medallist and SA professional flyweight champion Marcus Temple at the Seaman’s Institute Gym and thought Tuli would have had the better of Temple.
Considered as one of the best sparring partners around, Osman was always in demand, going in against overseas fighters such as Nigerian Roy Ankarah, the British Empire featherweight champion, and Tino Cardinale of Italy.
Shaik won only eight of 19 recorded fights as a professional, with only two losses by stoppage. However, he was a better fighter than his record suggests.
After retiring from boxing, he ran a successful cartage business until he died of a heart attack in Durban in 1991 when he was 62 years old.