dingaan thobela, basetsana khumalo

Dingaan Thobela was accused of abuse and infidelity throughout his high-profile relationships. Images via X: @governmentza, @lubusi87/Instagram: @basetsanakumalo

Dingaan Thobela: Inside his romances filled with ‘abuse and affairs’

Boxer Dingaan Thobela – also nicknamed ‘Don Juan’ – had tumultuous relationships with women like Basetsana Kumalo outside the ring.

dingaan thobela, basetsana khumalo

Dingaan Thobela was accused of abuse and infidelity throughout his high-profile relationships. Images via X: @governmentza, @lubusi87/Instagram: @basetsanakumalo

Dingaan Thobela, affectionately known as “The Rose of Soweto,” was known for his colourful life in and out of the boxing ring. And much of that had to do with his high-profile relationships with women like Basetsana Kumalo, which were peppered with allegations of domestic abuse, violence, and infidelity…

The three-time winning world champion was found dead in his Johannesburg home on Monday, 29 April. He was 57 years old.


Before she married businessman Romeo Kumalo, pageant queen Basetsana (née Makgalemele) was romantically linked to Dingaan Thobela.

According to the Sowetan, the couple began dating when Bassie was 16 years old, and Dingaan was 28 years old.

Although glamorous on the surface, Basetsana later admitted that the boxer had physically abused her throughout their relationship.

In an interview with PowerFM, Basetsana alleged Dingaan had often hit her with closed fists.

One occasion left her bloody and battered and seeking medical treatment. She said: “The last straw was when he pointed a gun at me.”

Basetsana documented her relationship in her 2022 autobiography Bassie: My Journey of Hope.

Basetsana Kumalo and Dingaan Thobela
Basetsana Kumalo and Dingaan Thobela. Images via Twitter @BraHlonisky and @tumisole

Of speaking out, she said: “It was a shame. I was a celebrated public figure, but privately, I was beaten up.

“I can’t be that Basetsana who puts her abusive relationship under the carpet. I wanted to give it a face”.

She also told the Sowetan: “Had I not left that relationship, I would have been dead.”

Dingaan – who denied Basetsana’s allegations – wrote his memoir Rose of Soweto – The Dingaan Thobela Story in 2009. He alleges he gave Basetsana the opportunity to “tell her side of the story,” which she “refused.”


According to Dingaan Thobela’s ex-wife Sandra, he had a “Don Juan” personality and was known for his philandering ways.

Speaking to Sunday World, the Mozambican woman, who divorced the boxer in 2014, claimed he fathered three children during their marriage to his mistress “Tumi.” The couple had two children together.

She said: “When I discovered this, I was devastated because I never thought he would betray me like that… It was painful.”

Sandra also claimed there were “other women” and that her ex had been jealous, possessive, and emotionally abusive.

According to the publication, Dingaan admitted to being unfaithful.

In 2000, Dingaan’s sister-in-law Paula Viera (wife Sandra’s sister)  accused him of using her as a “boxing bag” during a violent altercation. 

According to IOL, the dispute happened when Paula came to visit her sister at their Johannesburg home.

The woman’s sworn statement claimed that the boxer was accused of dragging her by the hair, tripping her, kicking and punching her, tearing her blouse off, and grabbing her by the throat. He denied the allegations.

In 2017, Dingaan Thobela made headlines again when his girlfriend Sana Ncwane accused him of domestic abuse, reported the Sowetan. He denied the allegation.


Dingaan Thobela is one of many high-profile professional boxers whose reputations were marred by allegations of domestic abuse.

Others include international fighters like Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Tyson Fury, and Andy Ruiz.

According to Psychology Today, “reactionary aggression” is common among boxers.

“Learning violence, experiencing violence, and being unable to control aggressive impulses as a child can easily lead to the cycle of violence, and it’s a hard cycle to break,” claims the publication.