To blacks in Bophuthatswana it was like Joe Louis destroying Max Schmeling, when John Tate of Knoxville stopped Kallie Knoetze there Saturday.
Knoetze, ranked No. 1 contender behind Muhammad Ali by the World Boxing Association, is a white former South African policeman who has been barred from fighting in the United States because of an incident in which he shot a black youth. To many in South Africa, Knoetze is a symbol of apartheid.
There were 51,000 at the bout in Bophuthatswana, an area granted independence by the South African government but not recognized by the United States. Jerry Miller, Tate's manager, said yesterday virtually no blacks watched the bout. (Associated Press, in its dispactch on the flight, called the crowd "predominantly black.")
After the bout, there were so many blacks in the streets "chanting and screaming" their acclamation of Tate that the manager said the American fighter's bus was nearly overturned in the enthusiasm and a police escort was provided to his hotel.
"They called John what translates to a'god', Miller said.
Miller said Tate carried an extra burden because some people in the United states objected to his taking part in the promotion with a segregated audience and because of South Africa's racial policy.
"John loves his color and loves his people, but he went over there just to whip one guy, Knoetze, because he was ranked No. 1. He did it, against the worst kind of psychological warfare," Miller said.
"Every day there were stories in the white South African press intended to terrorize Tate . . . about Knoetze's 'thundering punch,' poison-pen stuff that was degrading. It (the press) termed John as rank amateur.
"Somebody was throwing women at him, at our hotel, to try to sabotage his conditioning. I put two and two together, when I found out that a partiular blond was from Pretoria, Knoetze's hometown.
"We allowed no women in our camp. John is a bachelor, he had gone 70 days without female companionship, and was not going to under-mine his big chance.
"We left $175,000 in taxes there out of our purse of $350,000. That's how much John wanted this shot.
"John has lived in hell for the three years since he was knocked out by Teofilo (Stevenson of Cuba) in the Olympics. In the United States the 'experts' said afterward that John could not flight. They will say that before he whips Larry Holmes for the (World Boxing Council) title, too. Then John will beat Leon Spinks for the WBA title.
"Spinks is going to fight Gerry Coetzee of South Africa next (June 24 in Monte Carlo) and Spinks is going to beat Coetzee."
The winner is scheduled to fight Tate in the WBA elimination tournament to determine a successor to Ali, who is expected to retire, and Miller said, "The scuttlebutt I hear is that it will be Washington, D.C."
Miller said there were discusions before the Tate-Knoetze bout about playingdown the racial aspect, "but afterward John was awed and very emotionalabout the demonstrations by the blacks in the streets. It was very satisfying, particularly an editorial in a black newspaper, The Transvaal Post."
The editorial said, in part, "you see, John, we are a nation tragically divided . . . It (bout) was at the one end black pride and dignity represented by you and white arrogance and selfishness as represented by Knoetze on the other.
"Let us explain further, John. If and when you meet Coetzee (who is white), you'll find many of us switching our allegiance to him. Because he's human; he's warm; he's a gentleman. Above all he has publicly denounced racialism (sic)." CAPTION: Picture, John Tate raises arms in triumph after defeating Kallie Knoetze on a TKO. UPI