Phindile Mwelase’s death KOs boxing

2014-11-02 15:00

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The death of professional boxer Phindile Mwelase has again highlighted the fact that boxing is one of the most dangerous sports.

Born in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, on October 20 1983, Mwelase died last Saturday after being in a coma for two weeks.

She slipped into the coma after she was knocked out by Pretoria’s Liz Butler in the sixth round of their scheduled eight-round light-middleweight professional bout in Pretoria on October 10.

Mwelase was buried in Ladysmith yesterday.

She was the country’s first female boxer to die after an injury in the ring.

Mwelase’s death is a grim reminder of the reality of the fistic sport in the country and the dangers it poses, especially as more women become involved.

A look at statistics compiled by boxing historian Ron Jackson (see box) shows all the country’s fighters who died as a result of punishment in the ring were men, except for Mwelase.

Cricket SA’s medical committee head Dr Shuaib Manjra believes boxing should be banned.

“Boxing is a very dangerous sport where you have to knock out your opponent to win a fight. This means you should cause a concussion, which will lead to damaging your opponent’s brain. In my opinion, this sport should be banned,” said Manjra.

But Boxing SA board member and World Boxing Council medical adviser Dr Peter Ngatane differs.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say boxing should go because other sports are also dangerous.

“Women’s boxing in our country is still in an infancy stage. We can’t just start saying the sport must go now that someone has died,” said Ngatane.

He added there were many countries in Africa and other parts of the world where many women were involved in professional boxing.

There have been a number of boxing fatalities in South African rings over the years, dating back to the 1950s. Among the most notable fighters who died as a result of punishment in the ring were Jacob “Dancing Shoes” Morake and Brian Baronet.

Sowetan Morake was knocked out in the 11th round by Brian “Mean Machine” Mitchell during their SA junior-lightweight bout at the Sun City Superbowl in 1985.

Morake was rushed to hospital where he died a few days later from a brain injury.

Baronet was an enterprising Natal junior-welterweight pugilist who died in 1988 after he was knocked out by American Kenny Vice in Durban.

Baronet lay in a coma in hospital for three days before dying.

Victims of the ring

Boxing fatalities

1950 – Charles ‘Black Sjambok’ Sabe

1967 – Wiseman Lumkile

Dunjwana

1969 – Nicholas ‘Lucky Boy’

Cele

1970 – Moses Ndlovu

1972 – Moses Mthembu

1975 – Simon ‘Razor’ Monamodi

1979 – Samuel Tshabalala

1980 – Bernard Zungu

1982 – Nceba Gobozi

1984 – Mongezi Mbengashe

1985 – Jacob ‘Dancing Shoes’

Morake

1988 – Brian Baronet

1990 – Dean Sawuti

1994 – Matthews Pule

1999 – Nzuzo Manyube

2000 – Mzwandile Mathole

2001 – Simphiwe Galada

2006 – Tally Disloane

2008 – Samora Msophi

2014 – Phindile Mwelase

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