A boxer who punched an invisible opponent dies after suffering a brain injury

South African fighter Simiso Buthelezi competed in a fight for the African lightweight title on Saturday night, and seconds from the final bell seemed to start punching in the thin air in the corner.

South African boxer Simiso Buthelezi worried fans when he started punching the air in the middle of a fight
South African boxer Simiso Buthelezi worried fans when he started punching the air in the middle of a fight

South African boxer Simis Buthelezi has died after an incident where he punched an invisible opponent over the weekend.

The fighter was transported to hospital after the referee stopped his fight with Sipheshle Mntungwa in Greyville on Saturday, where doctors told the media that a miracle was needed for him to survive. He suffered brain bleeding and had difficulty receiving medical surgery at King Edward Hospital in Durban.

And Boxing South Africa has released a statement on Buthelezi’s death, which was co-signed by the boxer’s family. It reads: “It is with great sadness that Boxing South Africa and the Buthelezi family announce the passing of Mr Simiso Buthelezi, who passed away last night on June 7, 2022 in a hospital in Durban.

“On June 5, 2022, Mr. Buthelezi participated in a boxing tournament hosted by Starline Boxing Promotions at Greyville, Durban. Towards the end of his attack, Mr. Buthelezi collapsed and was taken to hospital and was discovered in the hospital that he suffered a brain injury that resulted in internal bleeding.

“At the hospital Mr Buthelezi received the best possible care but he succumbed to the injury last night as previously stated. Boxing South Africa will conduct an independent medical examination of the injury and then publish the results of that medical examination.

“The Buthelezi family and Boxing South Africa acknowledge warm condolences from the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture. The Buthelezi family and Boxing South Africa will announce funeral arrangements in due course.

“Boxing South Africa and the Buthelezi family want to ask members of the public and media to give them space in mourning the passing of this great boxer who was exemplary both outside and inside the ring.”

Doctors were confused by the incident because it was Buthelezi who landed the heavier shots during the contest. He was seconds away from comfortably winning a decision, but doctors fear he may have gone into the fight with an injury.

He even sent his opponent Mntungwa through the ropes, and holding a 4-0 record going into the fight was on his way to winning his first title as a professional. Video of the incident went viral on social media with fans sharing their messages of support for the young fighter.

There have been a number of tragic deaths in the boxing world so far in 2022. A teenage prospect Ali Tazeem, once believed to be “the next one”. Amir Khan ‘, died in a car accident in April shortly after signing his first professional contract.

This followed the death of Indonesian boxer Hero Tito, who died after a knockout loss against Jacob Mokoginta. Former Ukrainian champion Oleg Prudky was killed just last month fighting against the Russian invasion of his homeland.

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