Simiso Buthelezi, a South African boxer, died on Sunday after a battle with Siphesihle Mntungwa. Buthelezi’s battle went viral as he was shown hitting aimlessly and away from Mntungwa after knocking him into the ropes.
The battle was promptly interrupted by the referee because something was clearly amiss with Buthelezi. Mntungwa won by TKO, while Buthelezi was brought to King Edward VIII Hospital, where doctors diagnosed a brain bleed and left him in a medically-induced coma.
On Wednesday morning, Boxing South Africa issued a statement announcing Buthelezi’s death.
“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 June 7 in hospital in Durban,” the statement read.
“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 came into the WBF African lightweight title bout with a record of 4-0 as a professional and seemed to be clearly on his way to picking up yet another win when the injury took hold.
“There wasn’t anything untoward in the fight and in training,” Bheki Mngomezulu, Buthelezi’s trainer, told News24. “He was leading the fight on points before the unfortunate incident occurred.
“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.”
Studies show that traumatic brain injuries are common among both professional and amateur boxers. In a 2020 statement, the World Medical Association said that “boxing is qualitatively different from other sports because of the injuries it causes and that it should be banned.”