Woman boxer Mwelase passes away in hospital
PHINDILE Mwelase, the woman boxer who fell into a coma after being knocked out earlier this month, has died.
She is the first female fighter in South Africa to have died as a result of punishment in the ring.
Mwelase was taken off life support and moved out of intensive care last week, but it is understood that she never regained consciousness.
"We thought she was getting better," said Andre Thysse, a co-owner of Real Steel Promotions, who staged Mwelase's bout in Pretoria on October 10.
Mwelase, who turned 31 in hospital last week Monday, died on Saturday.
Mwelase was knocked out in the sixth round by Liz Butler in a professional women's bout.
Mwelase, who had failed to win any of her four previous bouts, had been competitive until she was caught by a single right hand, which caused her to slump to her knees. She then toppled forward, unconscious.
Mwelase was initially taken to Kalafong Hospital, but was transferred to Steve Biko Hospital where she underwent surgery to stem bleeding on the brain nearly 48 hours after first collapsing.
Butler is taking the death badly and has vowed not to box again.
"She's devastated. She says she's not going to box again," said Thysse.
Pumeza Zinakile, the referee in charge of that ill-fated fight, said she had regularly visited the stricken boxer in hospital.
"After seeing Phindile go through that suffering when she lay with her body lifelessly on her bed with the bandages [the hand wraps] that I had signed before she fought Liz Butler, makes me very sad."
Boxing SA Gauteng manager Archie Nyingwa described Mwelase as a soldier who died with her gun in her hands.
BSA chairperson Ntambi Ravele said: "We always hoped for the best because we have seen situations like that of Michael Schumacher [retired seven-time F1 champion] who woke up from a coma nearly a year after suffering life-threatening injuries from skiing.
"I am devastated, to say the least. My heart goes out to her mother. That family's pains is also ours as BSA."
Mwelase is from Ladysmith but was trained in Johannesburg by Stanley Ndlovu.