SYDNEY • Australia's boxing community was in shock yesterday after middleweight Dwight Ritchie collapsed and died aged just 27, reportedly while sparring.
Sydney's Daily Telegraph said he took a body shot on Saturday, walked back to his corner and collapsed. He could not be revived.
It said he was sparring in Melbourne with Michael Zerefa, who is preparing for a rematch with Jeff Horn, a former World Boxing Organisation welterweight champion.
Ritchie's promoter Jake Ellis confirmed the news on Facebook.
"It is with great sadness and shock to announce that the fighting cowboy Dwight Ritchie sadly passed away today doing what he loved," he said.
"As Dwight's promoter and friend it's unbearable to accept the tragic news that's just surfaced."
Ritchie, nicknamed "The Fighting Cowboy", held a 19-2 record.
One of the country's brightest boxing talents, he last fought in August, losing to Tim Tszyu by a unanimous decision for the International Boxing Federation Australasian super welterweight title.
"I am truly saddened by the passing of Dwight Ritchie," Tszyu said on Instagram.
"Only fighters understand the bond shared between them, especially those who shared a ring together. Rest In Peace to a true champion."
Ritchie leaves three children behind. His death sparked a flood of tributes from local boxers on social media.
"Today we lost one of our own," Australian professional and Olympian Luke Jackson wrote on Twitter. "I remember having my professional debut on Dwight's card. Sending my love to his family, loved ones and the whole of boxing Australia."
His death comes less than a month after American boxer Patrick Day died from brain injury after his knockout loss to Charles Conwell in Chicago.
He was the third boxer to die from injuries sustained in the ring this year.
Argentina's Hugo Santillan died in July following a bout in San Nicolas, near Buenos Aires. It came just two days after Russian Maxim Dadashev died from brain injuries sustained in a fight in Maryland.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS