ast week, lightweight boxer Simiso Buthelezi died during unusual circumstances. According to reports, Buthelezi, who was 27, challenged Siphesihle Mntungwa in a 10-round fight. By all accounts, the contest wasn’t close, as Buthelezi dominated.
In round 10, he landed a stunning blow that sent Mntungwa reeling through the ropes. Mntungwa, 24, made the mandatory 10 count. However, when the referee called the action to resume, Buthlez turned his back and began punching at the air (see video below), before slumping into the corner as his concerned cornermen and ring doctor stormed the ring.
Buthelezi was rushed to the hospital and placed in an induced coma before he died of a brain injury caused by internal bleeding. According to Buthlezi’s trainer, his fighter had no previous health issues, and there was no evidence that he had a history of neurological concerns.
However, since his death, Mntungwa has lived in fear, according to an interview he gave told Sowetan Live.
“I came under heavy criticism and insults on social media platforms when Simiso was hospitalized; it has taken another level now that he has passed away,” said Mntungwa. He added. “I just can’t take it anymore. One thing is left for me – I am going to kill myself.”
In addition to the escalating stress of the grieving boxer, it didn’t help that the fight was shown on national television in South Africa, which heightened additional hostility from boxing fans and members of the community where Mntungwa lives. “I am no longer safe. I did not kill Simiso; we may have been involved in a boxing fight, but it was not a matter of life and death.”
It is unclear why Mntungwa has faced growing backlash. As a fighter, his job was to enter the ring and win. There was no evidence that he engaged in foul-like tactics, such as hitting Simiso behind the head or headbutts on purpose. Regardless, Mntungwa’s chronic depression has impacted not only his life and the lives of others, but Mntungwa’s career will take time to rebuild.
A memorial 10 count is given from Gauteng for Tuesday evening’s passing of warrior Simiso Buthelezi pic.twitter.com/2XiivV4Dfy— Tim Boxeo (@TimBoxeo) June 11, 2022
“All I wanted was to win the title, which maybe was going to help change my life and that of my family … winning that title was going to help me financially,” Mntungwa said. “But people have branded me a killer. It could have been me.” Boxing South Africa announced they will initiate an independent medical review
In a 2019 story, CNN reported that between 1890 and 2011, around 1,604 boxers died in the ring from force blunt to the head. Since 2011, fatalities have increased to 2,000. At the time, a spokesman for a boxing commission told CNN that boxing had done well for fighters. “Boxing is certainly an easy and obvious target, and of course, the criticism is understandable, if not completely fair, “Boxing does so much good for young people, keeps them off the streets, away from drugs, teaches them discipline, self-confidence, that the good by far outweighs the bad.”