Tears flow freely for champ ‘Baby Lee’
Emotions ran high as more than 500 people packed the East London City Hall on Wednesday to pay tribute to former boxing and karate star Leighandre “Baby Lee” Jegels.
Jegels was shot and killed by her police officer boyfriend, on August 30.
The world karate and SA boxing champion was only 25 years old when she was killed.
The memorial service was organised by the ANC and the East London boxing fraternity in an effort to honour Jegels and her contribution to sport and to social upliftment in Buffalo City Metro and the country.
Family, friends and fans were in attendance as well as dignitaries including BCM speaker Alfred Mtsi.
Prominent women’s rights organisation Masimanyane also had a presence through director Dr Lesley-Ann Foster.
When she was in the ring her mother and I were making the most noise
Jegels’s boxing colleague, Zolani Tete, and South African Boxing operations director Cindy Nkomo also paid their respects at the service.
Boxing fan Joy Greyvenstein said losing Jegels was like losing a family member.
“She was my little idol. When she was in the ring her mother and I were the ones making the biggest noise and cheering her on. The boxing community is like one big family, we all support and love one another.
“I never missed a match at the Orient,” said a teary-eyed Greyvenstein.
She has been a dedicated fan of the sport for 30 years.
Khoisan chief Gaokxaob Kai Anib said: “We came from PE for this. As a community we are shocked and saddened that such a strong female role model was taken from us prematurely. We have been robbed of her presence.”
Jegels’s family, including parents, aunts, uncles and her 93-year-old grandmother, were too emotional to speak to the Dispatch, but were seen supporting one another.
The funeral service for Jegels will be held on Saturday at the Abbotsford Christian Centre from 11 am to 2pm.