Simiso Buthelezi, the South African boxer who went viral after “fighting an invisible opponent” and punching thin air has died.
A joint statement issued by Boxing South Africa and the boxer’s family said Buthelezi suffered a brain injury which resulted in internal bleeding before his death on June 7, 2022, at a Durban hospital.
The statement added that an independent medical review will be conducted of the injury and the findings will be made public.
“Towards the end of his bout, Mr. Buthelezi collapsed and was taken to hospital and it was discovered at the hospital that he suffered a brain injury which resulted in internal bleeding,” the statement said.
“At the hospital, Mr. Buthelezi was given the best care possible but he however succumbed to the injury last night as aforesaid.
“The Buthelezi family and Boxing South Africa acknowledges warm words of condolences of the Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture”.
Buthelezi had recently graduated from university with a degree in Botany and Zoology.
Buthelezi who made his professional debut last year was fighting Siphesihle Mntungwa for the vacant World Boxing Federation African Light Title on June 5, 2022, at Greyville, Durban in what was the fifth fight of his career.
In the 10th round, he appeared to be in control of the fight, forcing his opponent through the ropes during an exchange.
However, replays showed Buthelezi took a strong jab to the chin from Mntungwa before he fell and briefly slumped onto the ropes.
When the fight resumed, Buthelezi appeared to lose his bearings and directed his attention towards the referee instead of his opponent.
He also didn’t appear to realise when the referee moved out of the way.
He was left staring at an empty corner of the ring and swinging punches at an invisible opponent.
The referee immediately stopped the fight and declared Mntungwa winner by TKO.
After being rushed to hospital, Buthelezi was initially put into an induced coma, but on Wednesday it was announced that he had died.