South African boxing star dies after 'fighting invisible opponent'

·Sports Editor
·4-min read
Simiso Buthelezi, pictured here appearing to be fighting an 'invisible' opponent.
Simiso Buthelezi appeared to be fighting an 'invisible' opponent. Image: Twitter

The boxing community has been rocked by the tragic death of Simiso Buthelezi after the South African fighter was captured in disturbing footage last week.

Buthelezi was fighting Siphesihle Mntungwa last weekend for the WBF African lightweight title when things took a confronting turn.

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After knocking down Mntungwa in the 10th round and being told by the referee to return to his corner, Buthelezi turned the wrong way and started throwing punches at nobody.

Buthelezi was clearly disorientated and appeared to think he was punching Mntungwa, but his opponent was behind him.

The referee immediately recognised that something was very wrong and called off the fight.

However things took a tragic twist on Wednesday night when Buthelezi died in hospital.

Buthelezi collapsed after the fight and was rushed to hospital, where he fell into a coma.

Boxing South Africa (BSA) then announced on Wednesday night that the fighter had died.

"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 June 7 2022 at hospital in Durban," BSA said in a statement.

“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.”

Buthelezi's trainer Bheki Mngomezulu said his fighter appeared in control throughout the bout and they weren't sure when he suffered the brain injury.

“I really can’t explain what happened, to be honest," the trainer said.

"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.”

Simiso Buthelezi, pictured here with his opponent behind him when he was throwing punches.
Simiso Buthelezi's opponent was behind him when he was throwing punches. Image: Twitter

Boxing world mourns death of Simiso Buthelezi

Boxing South Africa also announced an investigation into the fight and Buthelezi's death.

"Boxing South Africa will conduct an independent medical review of the injury and will then make public the results of that medical review," they said.

"The Buthelezi family and Boxing South Africa acknowledges warm words of condolences of the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture.

"The Buthelezi family and Boxing South Africa will in due course make announcement on funeral arrangements.

"Boxing South Africa and the Buthelezi family wishes to request members of the public and the media to give them space while mouning the passing away of this great boxer who was exemplary both outside and inside the ring."

The undefeated boxer had recently graduated university with a degree in botany and zoology.

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