Boxer donates his organs to patients

SEOUL - South Korean boxer Choi Yo-sam, who fell into a coma after winning his WBO intercontinental flyweight title fight last week, was declared officially dead early yesterday, a hospital spokesman said.

SEOUL - South Korean boxer Choi Yo-sam, who fell into a coma after winning his WBO intercontinental flyweight title fight last week, was declared officially dead early yesterday, a hospital spokesman said.

The declaration was made at 12:18 am on Wednesday as doctors stopped the flow of blood to Choi's heart and took him off life support, said Shin Dae-sung, a spokesman at Asan Hospital in Seoul, which received approval from Choi's family.

His heart, liver, both kidneys and both corneas were removed for donation to six patients awaiting transplants, Shin said.

A 58-year-old woman received Choi's liver in an operation yesterday at a hospital in Jeonju, 243 kilometres south of Seoul, her son said.

"I am very grateful to Choi and his family for making the hard decision," said Seol Dong-mok, the woman's son.

Choi's funeral was scheduled to be held tomorrow, according to the Korea Boxing Commission.

On Wednesday, a hospital committee pronounced Choi brain dead after conducting a series of tests. He had been in a coma since shortly after winning the fight against Indonesian opponent Heri Amol in Seoul on December 25.

The 33-year-old South Korean, a former world champion, was knocked down just before the end of the 12th and final round of the bout but got back up and was declared the winner on points before collapsing.

"He has lived a hard life," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted Oh Soon-hui, Choi's 65-year-old mother, as saying on Wednesday after the declaration that he was brain dead.

"I hope he has gone to a peaceful place."

Choi was the WBC light flyweight world champion from October 1999 to July 2002, and fought for the WBA light flyweight world title in September 2004.

The South Korean government said yesterday it would award a medal to Choi in recognition of the organ donation and victory in his last fight.

Kim Jong-min, South Korea's culture minister, was to deliver the award -given to people who develop sports in the country - to Choi's family members.

In 1982, South Korean lightweight Kim Duk-koo died four days after being knocked out by Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini in a WBA lightweight world title fight in Las Vegas.

Kim was knocked out in the 14th round, prompting the WBC to reduce the length of its bouts from 15 to 12 rounds, with the other major sanctioning bodies following later. - Sapa-AP

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