Simiso Buthelezi, a boxer who died after sustaining a brain injury that caused him to fire punches at nothing during a battle over the weekend, has died. On Sunday, the 24-year-old South African lightweight faced Siphesihle Mntungwa in Durban.
He was knocked out in the tenth and final round after the referee waved the fight off when he turned away from his opponent and began swinging at nowhere, only seconds after putting Mntungwa down.
On social media, the video of Buthelezi receiving a strong hit to the chin before sending Mntungwa down went viral. However, the story has taken a devastating turn with the news that he has died after sliding into a coma.
“It is with great grief for Boxing South Africa and the Buthelezi family to announce the passing away of Mr. Simiso Buthelezi who passed away last night the 7th June 2022 at the hospital in Durban,” said a joint statement from his family and Boxing South Africa.
“Boxing South Africa will conduct an independent medical review of the injury and will then make public the results of that medical review. The Buthelezi family and Boxing South Africa acknowledge warm words of condolences from the Minister of Sport, Arts, and Culture.
“The Buthelezi family and Boxing South Africa will in due course make an 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 mourning the passing away of this great boxer who was exemplary both outside and inside the ring.”
Buthelezi was winning the fight heading into the 10th round after boxing impressively before the horrific scenes unfolded. After knocking his rival down and the ref restarting the fight, Buthelezi turned to an empty corner and threw multiple punches at a seemingly invisibly opponent, prompting the ref to wave off the contest.
It was his first professional defeat in five bouts – all of which took place in South Africa. After being tended to by ringside physicians, Buthelezi was taken to the hospital and placed into a coma. It was originally reported that he was in a “stable condition” before his tragic passing.