The Mercury

New champ behind bars

- Mercury Correspond­ent

TSHEPANG Mohale scored a scintillat­ing third-round knockout win over Johnny Muller to capture the South African light heavyweigh­t boxing title at Emperors Palace in Joburg on Saturday – but while he was celebratin­g his win police arrived at the ringside and arrested him for possession of a stolen cellphone.

Mohale had just stepped down from the ring when he was confronted over the Blackberry he had bought just days before.

His manager, Peter Smith, who watched the drama unfold as police apprehende­d his charge, said Mohale had bought the stolen phone from a shop in central Joburg, where the boxer resides.

News of the arrest quickly spread through the packed Emperors Palace venue, with fight promoter Rodney Berman describing it as an embarrassm­ent to his tournament.

“This is so unexpected and to happen just after he had won the most important bout of his career is equally disappoint­ing,” Berman said.

The champion spent what was supposed to be the best night of his life behind bars.

Mohale was taken to the Douglasdal­e police station, where he spent the night before he was released on bail yesterday morning.

He was expected to appear at the Randburg Magistrate’s Court today.

“It was a huge moment ruined for him,” said Smith.

The news made it on to the social networks, with someone styling himself StephenCas­tle1, writing on Twitter: “Tshepang Mohale wins fight and gets arrest (sic) for stealing straight afterwards. Shameful!!”

The boxer was said to be devastated over the arrest, but was optimistic that his innocence would be proven.

Mohale’s victory brought Muller’s nine-fight unbeaten run in the ring to an end.

Smith said the whole episode had taken everyone by surprise, but insisted his client did not know that the phone had been stolen.

“Someone apparently tipped off the police about the phone being stolen, so they arrested him right after the fight ended,” he said.

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