29-Year-Old Professional Boxer Dies After Collapsing in the Ring


A 29-year-old British fighter died after he collapsed in the ring during his professional boxing debut on Sunday night in the U.K.

Rising middleweight Sherif Lawal took a shot from Portuguese fighter Malam Varelan in the fourth round of a bout at the Harrow Leisure Centre in Greater London.

The fighter was treated by paramedics at the scene and rushed to a hospital, the BBC reported, but he did not survive his injuries.

ESPN cited media reports that Lawal took a shot to the temple before he went down and never got back up.

No cause of death was immediately available.

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The British Boxing Board of Control issued a statement about Lawal’s fatal professional debut on social media.

“The British Boxing Board of Control sends their condolences to the family of Sherifdeen Lawal following his tragic passing after his Boxing contest on Sunday, 12 May 2024,” the U.K.’s governing body on the sport said.

“The thoughts of all those involved in Boxing in Great Britain are with them at this difficult time.”

Warren Boxing Management, which promoted Sunday’s events, also issued a statement about Lawal’s death on its Instagram page.

“Last night, Sherif Lawal was making his debut at a show at Harrow Leisure Centre, in which our boxer Courtney Bennett was scheduled to fight,” the company said in the statement.

“Unfortunately during Sherif’s fight, he collapsed and despite the best efforts of the paramedics, he was later pronounced dead,” the statement added. “Warren Boxing Management would like to send our condolences to all of Sherif’s family, friends, coaches and all those close to him at this tragic time.”

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According to ESPN, Lawal’s fight with Varela was scheduled for six rounds and it was the first on the card.

The remaining fights were canceled after Lawal was taken to the hospital.

Varela had not issued a public statement about Lawal’s death as of Tuesday.

Is boxing too violent?

Boxing deaths are uncommon but not unprecedented. Filipino bantamweight boxer Kenneth Egano died in May 2023, days after he was hospitalized following his eighth professional fight.

As CBS News noted, Mexican boxer Jeanette Zacarias Zapata died in 2021 at the age of 18 after being knocked out during a fight in Montreal.

Three boxers are known to have died in the ring in 2019.

American boxer Patrick Day suffered a brain injury following a knockout in Chicago and later died.

Boxers Maxim Dadashev, 27, of Russia, and Hugo Alfredo Santillan, 23, of Argentina, also died that year from injuries they sustained in separate fights.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.