Full Name:           Thulani Cedric Xulu
Date of Birth:       12 December 1939 (age 74)
Place of Birth:      Clermont, KwaZulu-Natal
Playing Position:  Midfielder
1961-1964               Avalon Athletic Football
1964-1965               Mbababe Swallows
1967-1968               Hammaskraal United
1971-1983               Zulu Royals United (now known as AmaZulu Football Club)
Thulani Cedric “Sugar Ray” Xulu (born 12 December 1939) is a former AmaZulu Football club soccer player, playing primarily as a central midfielder.
He began playing at an amateur level with Clermont Home Defenders, later advanced to professional level starting with Avalon Athletic Football, Mbabene Swallows in Swaziland, Hammanskraal United and AmaZulu Football Club.
Xulu was born to Roseline and Ntonga Xulu in Clermont KwaZulu-Natal as the 2nd of 5 children. He attended the local Lutheral Lower Primary, and in 1957 he attended his high school at Ohlange College a boarding school. In 1959 while he was doing Grade 11 at the age of 15 years old, after a month attending he was expelled due to his school fees being not paid. He was then forced to go look for a job, fortunately he quickly got a job the same year at Lion’s tea. He started playing soccer at the age of 8 years old, soccer was what kept him busy and focused. At the age of 15 years he started playing for Clermont Home Defenders juvenile team, advanced to their senior team. He played for Clermont Home Defenders until professional football started for black people in 1961, by South African Soccer League. Xulu was one of the first players in 1961 to play for Avalon Athletic Football and one of the founder members. Their home ground was Curries Fountain.
Xulu started playing professionally at the age of 22 years with Avalon Athletic Football from 1961 till 1964 as a central midfielder. During the league they played with other clubs such as Aces United, Orlando Pirates, Moroka Swallows, Transvaal United and Maritzburg City etc. In 1964 to 1965 Xulu went to Swaziland to go play for the Mbabane Swallows. Xulu came back later in 1965 and continued playing for Clermont Home Defenders which was his home team. In 1967-68 he played for Hammaskraal United, in their senior team. The last club he played for before he retired were the Zulu Royals, now known as Amazulu Football club. This is where he established himself as a player, while playing for the Zulu Royals. He started playing for the Zulu Royals in 1971 – 1983, during that time he scored a lot of goals including their one and only league title in 1972. Sugar Ray is now known as one of the great Amazulu legends, with a stadium name after him Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium.
Xulu is married with 6 kids, 3 from his marriage and 3 out of wedlock. The name Sugar-Ray came from spectators and supporters in the 1950s during his boxing days. After they identified his boxing style and thought it resembled the world champion from America Sugar Ray Robinson. During the year of 1983 towards the end, Xulu ‘Sugar-Ray’ decided to retire from being a soccer player. After he retired he opened his own taxi business in 1984. Even though his soccer days are over, he still continues to contribute to the development of sport through the premier’s KwaZulu-Natal Soccer Strategy. Through his love and passion for soccer, he now has a company in partnership with his friend and soccer legend Ace Mnikathi. Their company is called Ace & Sugar Sports; it is still a very small company. They do coaching for junior teams and all children that are interested around their community. The company also sells sports equipment, out of their cars. The sole purpose of this company is to teach kids soccer, get them off the streets, discipline and teach them respect.
Xulu’s message to the young soccer players, who are striving to be professionals at the game and one day, be legends. They need to know the basics of how to play the game, know how to control the ball and then the rest follows. They must learn to respect everyone in the game including the opposition. “There should be fair play, play the ball not the man”- Sugar-Ray Xulu.