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8 Jun, 2022 14:31

Boxer dies days after disturbing ring video shows him punching thin air

Simiso Buthelezi has passed away in hospital after suffering a brain bleed
Boxer dies days after disturbing ring video shows him punching thin air

South African boxer Simiso Buthelezi has died in hospital several days after a video was widely shared online showing him appearing to punch at thin air during a title fight in Durban. 

The previously unbeaten Buthelezi had been contesting the WBF All Africa lightweight title against rival Siphesihle Mntungwa on Sunday when, in the final minute of a 10-round bout, he pushed forward and almost sent Mntungwa cascading through the ropes and out of the ring.

Mntungwa, though, gathered himself and the referee waved on the contest – only for Buthelezi to appear to lose sight of his opponent and begin to aim punches at the apron in the corner of the ring.

The referee immediately stepped in and ended the fight after determining that Buthelezi was unfit to continue. 

People who witnessed the bout said that Buthelezi had been in control of the fight from the very beginning, and that he had taken next to no damage from Mntungwa throughout the 10 rounds.

“Simiso was dictating terms, he was actually controlling the fight from round one. He didn't take any punishment from his opponent,” said ring announcer Sipho Mashego to ESPN

But this was the last round, with 14 seconds to go, and his opponent fell out of the ring. [Buthelezi] then started swinging wildly, and no-one understood what was going on. It was bizarre.”

Buthelezi's condition rapidly deteriorated when he arrived at hospital. He was placed into a coma at 11pm local time on Sunday, with his death confirmed by Boxing South Africa in a Wednesday statement.

“It is with great sadness for Boxing South Africa and the Buthelezi family to announce the passing away of Mr Simiso Buthelezi, who passed away last night on 7 June in hospital in Durban.

“Towards the end of his bout, Mr Buthelezi collapsed and was taken to hospital and it was discovered that he suffered a brain injury which resulted in internal bleeding. At the hospital, Mr Buthelezi was given the best care possible but he succumbed to the injury.”

His trainer Bheki Mngomezulu was also unable to offer any clues as to why, or how, the situation occurred. 

“There wasn't anything untoward in the fight and in training. He was leading the fight on points before the unfortunate incident occurred,” he said Monday to local media.

“I really can't explain what happened, to be honest. It was bewildering, but in his training and in the build-up to the fight, there was nothing untoward with regards to his condition. He was in good nick before the fight.”

Buthelezi, who was 24, had recently graduated from university with a degree in botany and zoology.