Darius Dhlomo

Darius Dhlomo

Darius Mfana Temba Dhlomo (born 9 August 1931) is a South African former footballer, boxer, musician[1] and a political activist.

Born in Durban, he was the son of Rolfes Robert Reginald Dhlomo, a pioneer in black South African writing.[2] He began competing in non-white boxing contests in apartheid-era South Africa. A victory in Durban in 1956 over Gilbert Petros brought him the Natal non-white middleweight title and then, by defeating Ezrom Ngcobo, he became the non-white South African cruiserweight champion.[3]

Alongside his budding boxing career, he was the captain of both the Baumannville City Blacks football team and the Natal national football team. Further to this, he also sang in a jazz quintet – a fact which led Drum, a national magazine aimed at the black South African market, to publish a feature on him titled "Darius Dhlomo, Man of Many Talents".[4] He decided to move to the Netherlands having signed a professional football contract with Heracles Almelo in 1958, joining up with Steve Mokone who was the first black South African to play in the European leagues.[5][6]

Before his debut match against Rigtersbleek, Dhlomo's absence sparked a search – striker Joop Schuman found him changing underneath the grandstand, unaware that a black player would be allowed into the team changing room.[7][8] He won the support of the team's fanbase with his aggressive style and demonstrated his technical ability with passes using the outside of his boot – a trick which became commonplace in later years.[8] Dhlomo and Mokone became prominent role models for black South Africans as the sportsmen were among the few people of such ancestry to enjoy prominence in a largely white society.[6]

Despite success abroad, his position as an activist for the African National Congress meant he was not allowed to return home to the National Party-governed South Africa. The funerals of his mother, brother and sister were all held in his absence.[9] While still continuing his boxing and music careers in the Netherlands, he went on to play football for Vitesse Arnhem, DHC Delft, Tubantia Hengelo and Enschedese Boys. Exiled from South Africa, he settled in Enschede and later worked as a teacher, social worker and a politician for the Labour Party.[8]

He received permission to return to South Africa in 1992 and met with Nelson Mandela. Dhlomo was taken aback by the level of recognition he received in South Africa after an absence of over thirty years. The 2010 FIFA World Cup – hosted in South Africa – saw the media spotlight return to Dhlomo, and his life became the subject of a number of Dutch television specials. He continues to perform as a live jazz musician, touring as "Darius Dhlomo and his swinging-4".[8]


  1. ^ "Darius Dhlomo in beeld" (in Dutch). Typische Uitgaven. 2010-05-14. http://typischalmelo.nl./news/35671/Darius-Dhlomo-in-beeld-. 
  2. ^ "Darius Dhlomo Image Portrait" (in Dutch). Historisch Centrum Overijssel. 2006-11-23. http://www.historischcentrumoverijssel.nl/hcoroot/hoofdnavigatie/het_verhaal_over/echte_helden/Dhlomo/Darius+Dhlomo+karikatuur.htm. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  3. ^ "Darius Dhlomo Profile". BoxRec. http://boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=105894&cat=boxer. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  4. ^ "Themba Mfana Darius Dhlomo (1931)" (in Dutch). Historisch Centrum Overijssel. 2006-11-23. http://www.historischcentrumoverijssel.nl/hcoroot/hoofdnavigatie/het_verhaal_over/echte_helden/Dhlomo/. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  5. ^ Lucille Davie (2007-01-23). "Soccer goes back 120 Years in Joburg". City of Johannesburg website. Johannesburg: BIG Media (Pty) Ltd. http://www.joburg.org.za/content/view/660/191/. 
  6. ^ a b "Stars In South Africa". FIFA. http://www.fifa.com/worldcup/destination/footballsouthafrica/stars.html. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  7. ^ "Museum Documents SA Soccer Struggles". SA Sports Illustrated. 2010-06-29. http://www.sportsillustrated.co.za/soccer/20100629/museum-documents-sa-soccer-struggles. 
  8. ^ a b c d Kuit, Martjan (2010-05-14). "Vergeten Voetballers: Darius Dhlomo, het multitalent" (in Dutch). Road to Twenty Ten. http://www.roadto2010.nl/2010/afrikanen-in-europa/vergeten-voetballers-darius-dhlomo-het-multitalent/. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 
  9. ^ "Portret van Darius Dhlomo in 'Netwerk'" (in Dutch). TV-Visie. 2010-05-13. http://www.tv-visie.be/inhoud/nederland/portret-van-darius-dhlomo-in-netwerk_37276/. Retrieved 2010-09-22. 

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