Robert Wangila (22-5-0, 16 KOs), Kenya, died on July 24, 1994 at the age of 26.
The only Olympic champion in Kenya, not only in boxing, but also in all sports, except for athletics, died in American Las Vegas. After winning Olympic gold in the welterweight category at the 1988 Games in Seoul, Vangil decided to build his professional career in the United States. But he was not able to achieve the same successes as in amateur boxing. July 22, 1994, after five and a half years of performances in the tournament, the ambitious African made another attempt to approach the battle for the title of world champion. For nine incomplete rounds Vangil was beaten by American David Gonzalez to such an extent that the referee Joe Cortez had to stop the fight, even despite the desperate protests of Robert's careless seconds. Vangil still managed to leave the ring on his own, but fell into a coma in his locker room. After 36 hours, his death was announced. Already moved to the States, Vangil accepted Islam, and at the behest of his Muslim wife, the boxer was buried in a Muslim cemetery, despite the protests of his Christian relatives from Kenya....
Ed Sanders (6-2-1, 3 KOs), USA, passed away on 12 December 1954 at the age of 24.
Another Olympic champion, who became the first-ever black gold medalist in the Olympic Games in the heavyweight division. At the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Sanders defeated all his rivals ahead of schedule. It was against him in the final fight that later became the legend of professional boxing and the world heavyweight champion Swede Ingemar Johansson frankly avoided the fight, for which he was disqualified in the 2nd round with the deprivation of the right to be considered a silver medalist. Then it seemed that before the mighty triumphant Sanders, who returned to his homeland in the status of a national hero, there are wide prospects for the pros. But Big Ed still served about two years in the US Navy, and only after that he made his professional debut.
Unfortunately, the pro-career did not work for him from the very first steps. And fatal for Sanders was the 9th pro-fight, held on December 11, 1954 in Boston. On the eve of the fight he complained of headaches and looked unusually listless and passive in the ring. Nevertheless, during 10 rounds he exchanged equal blows with his opponent Willi Williams nicknamed Cadillac, while in the 11th three-minute race, having missed a simple combination with the appearance of not such strong blows, Sanders suddenly collapsed on canvas, immediately losing consciousness. He was taken from the ring on a stretcher and taken to a hospital in which he died after a long unsuccessful operation on the brain. Most likely, Ed received a serious brain injury before the fight with James, and in the fight with the latter only aggravated it, having received a hemorrhage in the brain.
Sanders was buried in his native California with all military honors, including 21 shots in the air from rifles of honor guard.
Yo Sam Choi (32-5-0, 19 KOs), South Korea, died on January 2, 2008 at the age of 35.
Korean fly, champion at the turn of the 1990's - 2000's by the WBC, spent his last fight in life on December 25, 2007. After a series of defeats in the first half of the 2000s, beginning in 2005, Choi stood on the winning track. After winning five wins in a row, Yo Sam intended to soon get another chance to fight for the title of world champion, who by virtue of his age could become his swan song. On the way to the world title-shot of the South Korean was the Indonesian Heri Amol. In the course of the fight, in front of the eyes of his native audience, Choi confidently overplayed the opponent and did not foreshadow the tragic denouement. Yo Sam did not miss heavy blows and never looked shocked. True, several times opponents faced heads, which, perhaps, became the fatal reason of what happened.
Literally at the end of the final, 12th round, after one of the missed blows to the head Choi fell to the flooring ring. He got to his feet at the expense of 5, the referee counted down, after which the final gong almost immediately sounded. Yo Sam has yet managed to receive congratulations from his opponent, but, heading to his corner, immediately fell on canvas. Announcement of the ring-announcer about his victory, the Korean has not heard, because he was unconscious. He was rushed to the hospital, where he was made an emergency operation on the brain. Unfortunately, all the efforts of the doctors were in vain, the hemorrhage had irreversible consequences. A week later, two days after the New Year, Choi died without regaining consciousness. With the consent of the Yo-Sam family, six of his internal organs were transplanted to the patients who needed them for transplantation, for which the South Korean government awarded the boxer posthumously one of the highest state awards with the Order of Honor.
Pedro Alcazar (25-1-1, 14 KOs), Panama, died on June 24, 2002 at the age of 26.
This Panamanian world champion in the "super flyweight" according to the WBO version was a protege of his legendary compatriot Roberto Durand, who then at the funeral of Alcazar was among those who carried the coffin with his body. June 22, 2002 in the second defense of the world title against the famous Mexican pancher Fernando Montiel Pedro looked unimportant. All fight he was sluggish and inactive and already in the 6th round hung on the ropes, beaten by the challenger. Alcazar lost the title, but left the ring on his own feet. And only a day later, when he and his team were already preparing to fly from Las Vegas to their native Panama, during the shower in the hotel room the boxer suddenly collapsed unconscious. He could not be saved. Later it was established that the Alcazar died 36 hours after the end of the battle. This became the longest recorded in the history of boxing, when the boxer had a cerebral hemorrhage after the end of the bout.
Leavander Johnson (34-5-2, 26 KOs), USA, passed away on September 22, 2005 at the age of 35.
Having won the world title only with the fourth attempt, Leavander Johnson gave a significant impetus to his career in the already quite respectable age at boxing standards. But, unfortunately, the first defense of the IBF title in light weight became not only the last in his career, but also in life. In the battle, held September 17, 2005 in Las Vegas, Johnson met with the same as the experienced fighter himself - the Mexican Jesus Chavez. The chubby Latino possessed a clear advantage throughout the entire fight, and Leavander from round to round only accumulated on his head an increasing tonnage of strikes. Finally, at the beginning of the 11th three-minute referee Tony Vicks decided to stop the unilateral beating of the black champion, which caused some objections both to Leavander himself and to his father and coach Bill Johnson.
However, as the subsequent events showed, the referee even was late with the decision to stop the fight. Leaving the ring alone, Levander fell into a faint in the locker room and was rushed to the nearest hospital. After the surgery by the doctors to stop bleeding in the brain and remove the formed subdural hematoma for a while, it seemed that Johnson's life was saved and positive dynamics appeared in his state, although in general it remained critical. Unfortunately, he lived for only five days. The brain of Levander began to die, and with the consent of his family doctors decided to turn off the body of the boxer from the respirator. Johnson had a wife and four underage children.
Johnny Owen (25-2-1, 11 KOs), United Kingdom, died on November 4, 1980 at the age of 24.
This audience was adored by this audience, a puny, but courageous and stubborn fighter from Wales. Johnny Owen was a genuine charismatic ring. He became the first Welshman in history to win the British Commonwealth title, and also owned the belt of the European champion. September 19, 1980 in the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, Johnny got a chance to fight for the world title WBC bantamweight. Owen's opponent in that fatal battle was the famous Mexican fighter, the future member of the Hall of Fame boxing Lupe Pintor. The duel, like the previous Welsh fights, was held in a spectacular manner, accompanied by a double-edged uncompromising struggle.
After 8 rounds, Owen won the fight, but in the 9th three-minute race, he was knocked down for the first time in his career. After that, Pintor seized the initiative. The tragic denouement took place 25 seconds before the end of the 12th round. Owen was sent into a knockout and remained lying unconscious on the floor of the ring until he was immersed in a stretcher and sent to a hospital. Despite the operation to remove the clot formed in the brain, he died after 7 weeks, without regaining consciousness. 22 years later in Owen's homeland in Wales he was installed a monument. At the request of Father Johnny, the opening of the memorial was personally made by Lupe Pintor. Also in 2006 was published a book about the life and boxing career of Johnny Owen.
Ernie Schaaf (54-13-2, 23 KOs), USA, died on February 14, 1933 at the age of 24.
This popular heavyweight contender was the son of German immigrants. The boxing of the heroic times of the first half of the twentieth century was much more cruel than the current one, and the medical examinations of the fighters were not carried out much deeper than now. The victim of this circumstance was Ernie Schaaf. Most boxing historians hold the opinion that the Sea Tiger (a nickname given to Schaaf for his service in the navy) suffered a serious brain injury in a battle with future world champion Max Baer, who heavily patted him and knocked him out in the last seconds of the fight. (True, Schaaf was not formally calculated by the referee, because according to the rules, the final gong saves the boxer from a knockout.) Subsequently, Ernie constantly complained of headaches, but, despite this, continued to enter the ring.
Six months later, Schaaf met with another legendary fighter, too, like Baer, who soon became world champion - the Italian giant Primo Carnera. This battle was for Ernie fatal. He was knocked out in the 13th round, after which he was taken to the hospital. Four days later, on Valentine's Day, he passed away. According to the legend, before death, Schaaf came to himself for a moment and said to his mother at the bedside: "I'm fine," then he lost consciousness again and died. After each of his victories in the ring, Ernie sent his mother a bouquet of carnations, and his entire grave was strewn with these flowers. Among the many celebrities, a huge funeral bouquet was sent by Carnera. Buried Shaaf was with a huge crowd of people, with military honors, including shots of salute from rifles of honor guard of the US Navy.
Davy Moore (59-7-1, 30 KOs), USA, died on March 25, 1963 at the age of 29.
For a black fighter named Rifle from Springfield, the sixth defense of the title of the absolute world champion in semi-light weight became fatal. The fight between Moore and the Mexican-born native of Cuba, Shugar Ramos, was originally postponed because of the typhoon that flew to Los Angeles. But on March 21, 1963, the fighters agreed on the ring, set in the middle of the huge Dodger stadium. The fight aroused great interest and was broadcast on national television. After the exploratory early rounds, the soldiers became more active and began to exchange destructive blows for the amusement of the public. Finally, in the 10th round, the challenger managed to hold the most powerful right hook, which sent the champion into a knockout. During the fall, Moore heavily hit his neck on the bottom ring of the ring, which, as the investigation showed, was the cause of his death.
Davy was still able to give a short post-match interview in the ring, after which he retired with the team to the locker room. There he began to tell the seconds that he wanted to conduct a rematch with Ramos and return the lost world title, when suddenly he pressed his palm to his forehead and said: "Oh, my head aches." After that, losing consciousness, began to settle on the floor. After 75 hours he died in the hospital. Carefully viewing the video footage of the battle experts came to the conclusion that the fall of Moore's neck on the ropes was akin to the effect of a stroke of the palm in karate. The death of the famous fighter caused a great public response. There were even calls for a ban on holding boxing matches. And Bob Dylan wrote the hit song "Who killed Davy Moore?" But as a result, the athletic commissions of the states took only small changes to ensure greater security for boxers. They began to use the softer ropes of the ring, their stretch weakened somewhat, and also four ropes instead of three.
Benny Kid Paret (35-12-3, 10 KOs), Cuba, died on April 3, 1962 at the age of 25.
The death of this Cuban boxer was the first to be broadcast on national American television. For the fight, in which Benny Paret and American Emil Griffith fought for the title of the absolute world champion in welterweight, a multi-million audience watched live. This was the third meeting in the ring of irreconcilable rivals. In the first fight, Griffith knocked out Pareth, in the second fight, Benny took his revenge by winning on points, and the old opponents had to meet again. On pre-match weighing, Parette, who had a sharp tongue, accused Griffith of homosexuality, which increased his passion to the limit. The fighters converged on the ring on March 24, 1962. The fight took place at the famous New York arena Madison Square Garden and was broadcast by the largest national television channel US ABC.
In the 6th round, Griffith was almost knocked out, but he was saved by the gong for a break. And in the 12th tri-minute, already Paret was under an avalanche of ruthless strikes by an opponent. This was one of the most brutal beatings in boxing history. The American commentator counted 29 consecutive hits of Griffith, which he thrust into the rival until he hanged helplessly on the ropes. Referee Ruby Goldstein, who after that never again judged boxing matches, openly decided late to stop the fight, for which he was later subjected to merciless criticism from all sides. Having fallen into a comrade before the stoppage of the fight, Paret was immediately taken to the hospital, where he died 10 days later, without regaining consciousness. This tragedy in the ring spawned numerous public discussions, as a result of which boxing fights for almost 10 years ceased to be broadcast on a regular basis on national American television.
Dook Ku Kim (17-2-1, 8 KOs), South Korea, died on November 17, 1982 at the age of 23.
The most resonant tragedy in the ring in the history of world boxing was the death of South Korean boxer Dook Ku Kim in a fight against the famous Italian-American Ray Mancini. After this incident in professional boxing, several important reforms took place, aimed at enhancing the safety of life and health of athletes entering the ring. Prior to the meeting with Mancini, the name of Kim was unknown to the broad boxing community. He had a good track record, but among his victims there were no observable opponents. Nevertheless, taking 1st place in the WBA lightweight rating, Dook became the official contender for Mancini's world title. November 13, 1982, Kim was fighting for the first time in America. Spectators who filled the stands of the famous Las Vegas arena Caesars Palace, expected to see a one-sided duel in the performance of their favorite Mancini. But Ray himself, for his pugnacious slugger style, who wore the Boom-Bum nickname, on the eve of the bout, announced that he was preparing for a heavy fight. To the war in the ring, Kim prepared, a few days before the battle, prophetically wrote on the mirror of his hotel room in Las Vegas the words: "To live or die."
So in the end, it happened. Most of the time the fight was in a double-edged fight. Opponents chopped, as they say, bone-in-bone, and no one wanted to give in. Both were extremely beaten. Thus, Mancini's left ear was torn and the left eye swam completely. But in the later rounds, he began to cleanly take the initiative to his hands. The denouement came at the very beginning of the 14th tri-minutka. Kim was knocked down and, falling, hit his head hard on the flooring of the ring. He still found the courage to rise to his feet, but the referee decided to stop this brutal beating. A few minutes after the end of the fight, Kim collapsed unconscious and was immediately sent to the hospital. Neurosurgeons conducted an emergency operation to remove the Korean subdural hematoma from the brain, but all their efforts to save his life proved to be futile. Four days later, Kim died unconscious. A week later, the popular American magazine Sports Illustrated came out with a photograph of Mancini's fight - Kim on the cover, entitled her "Tragedy in the ring".
But Kim's death was not the only result of this tragic battle. Tortured by a sense of guilt over what happened, referee Richard Green committed suicide on July 1, 1983, and four months after his son's death, he counted his life and his mother. It was very hard for Ray Mancini to suffer. He did not want to enter the ring anymore, but his friends made him come to the conclusion that it was an accident. However, according to promoter Bob Arum, after that, Mancini was never the same old and carefree Boom-Boom that the audience knew before.
After this case, the boxing organizations began to gradually abandon the rules of the championship matches in 15 rounds, moving eventually to the 12-round format. But the most important reform was the cardinal tightening of pre-match medical examinations of boxers. If earlier on the eve of the fights the soldiers were just measured pressure and checked the heartbeat, then from the time before each fight of the boxers they became obliged to do a tomography of the brain and an electrocardiogram of the cardiovascular system, and sometimes also to undergo a fluorography. Also, the procedure of official weighing was shifted to an earlier time, as one of the reasons for Kim's death was supposed to be that he "made weight" with great difficulties, torturing himself on the eve of the fight by brutally driving off extra kilograms. The story of Kim's life was screened in the feature film "Champion", which appeared on the big screens of Korea in 2002. Also, many songs and poems were dedicated to the tragic battle of Mancini-Kim, as well as documentary films were shot.
Roman Simakov (19-2-1, 9 KOs), Russia, passed away on December 8, 2011 at the age of 27.
And in conclusion, let us recall the most famous case of death in the ring of a domestic boxer. This tragedy happened on the Yekaterinburg ring on December 5, 2011. Prospect-light heavyweight from Kemerovo met another Russian promising boxer - a Chelyabinsk resident in the US Sergei Kovalyov. Passed the school of the Russian national amateur boxing team Kovalev throughout the fight had a tangible initiative. Simakov, who was inferior to him in technology, tried to reverse the course of the battle due to his brand-new fighting qualities, perseverance and perseverance. Roman courageously took heavy blows both in the head and on the body. In the 6th round, the resource of Simakov's body began to be exhausted and he was first knocked down. And already in the next three minutes, a tragic denouement came. Roman for the second time was forced to descend to the flooring of the ring, after which the fight was stopped.
But even in the previous rounds it was noticeable that something is wrong with Simakov, he was already boxing, as they say, on autopilot. Unfortunately, his seconds did not give these alarming signs of special significance and did not find it necessary to stop the duel in order to maintain the health of his ward. Did not do this and the referee in the ring. As a result, almost immediately after the end of the fight, Roman lost consciousness, was rushed out of the ring on a stretcher and taken to the central city hospital in Yekaterinburg. Doctors had an urgent operation on the brain of Simakov, but his life could not be saved. Three days later, the boxer passed away without regaining consciousness. Sergey Kovalev asked forgiveness from Roman's relatives and friends and offered them his condolences, and also promised to dedicate the next battle to Simakov's memory and transfer the fee received for him to his parents.