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Darius Mfana Dhlomo (Posthumous)

The Order of Ikhamanga in

Darius Mfana Dhlomo (Posthumous) Awarded for:
His excellent talent in various professional sporting codes. His tenacity, sheer flair and triumph in sports inspired generations of aspiring footballers and boxers who saw in him the epitome of excellence in sports.

Profile of Darius Mfana Dhlomo (Posthumous)

Darius Mfana Dhlomo was born in Durban on 9 August 1931. A very keen sportsman from an early age, he established himself in boxing and also played professional football. He was also a jazz musician. Dhlomo moved to the Netherlands in 1958 to play for Heracles Almelo, where he joined up with the late Steve Mokone, who was the first black South African to play football in Europe. Notwithstanding his great athletic abilities, Dhlomo was also a keen political activist who was always in opposition to the oppressive government of South Africa.

Fondly referred to as a “man of many talents”, Dhlomo was an exceptional individual. Very few people in the world enjoy a gift of so many talents such as professional boxing, football, tennis and jazz music. His boxing talent propelled him right into the centre of boxing in South Africa while football made him the second South African to play for a European football league. In 1956 Dhlomo became the then Natal’s middleweight champion and in 1957 he gained the South African (non-white) light-heavyweight title.

The hardships of the times never deterred Dhlomo from dreaming big in his career. An already established footballer playing for the Baumannville City Blacks football team in South Africa, he was signed by Heracles Almelo of the Netherlands in 1958. A story is told of how in the Netherlands, Dhlomo disappeared as the other Heracles Almelo players were gearing up for an away match.

The hunt for Dhlomo ensued and one of the teammates found him changing underneath the grandstand, unaware that a black player was allowed into the team’s changing room. Nonetheless, while in the Dutch football league he became famously idolised for his silky touches and technical prowess when on the field.

Dhlomo lived in Enschede, where he worked as a teacher, social worker and a politician for the Labour Party. This was after his retirement from professional boxing in the Netherlands and professional football where he played for successive Dutch teams such as Heracles Almelo, Vitesse Arnhem, DHC Delft, Tubantia Hengelo and Enschedese Boys. After his retirement he continued to play jazz.