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A dark cloud has befallen South African boxing with the death of Eastern Cape's rising star in the ring Samora Msophi.
Msophi, 23, died at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital at Mdantsane in East London yesterday morning after he was knocked out during a fight on Friday night.
Siyolo Dabula, a retired boxer who was involved in promoting the fight, said yesterday: "S'Phathi Handi informed me this morning and I am still trying to come to terms with this. I just don't believe this boy has died. I thought he would pull through."
Handi, general secretary of the ANC in Eastern Cape, is a boxing promoter whose Mamali Boxing Promotions staged Msophi's fight against Mfundo Gwayana at the Orient Theatre in East London.
Msophi, whose skills were honed by Boyboy Mpulampula at the Enothole Boxing Gym of Handi in Mdantsane, went down twice in that brutal fight before collapsing from a barrage of blows in the fourth round.
They were fighting for the SA junior flyweight belt held by Gwayana from the famous Eyethu Boxing Club of Mzimase Mnguni.
Msophi lay unconscious in the ring, and it took ringside doctors more than 20 minutes to revive him before being finally rushed to Frere Hospital in East London, from where he was transferred to Cecilia Makiwane.
Boxing SA's service provider in the province, Phakamile Jacobs, was almost in tears when informed about Msophi's death.
"What? he asked. "I visited him on Sunday." Msophi underwent an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain on Saturday morning. Handi could not be reached yesterday because he was apparently with the dead boxer's family.