Champion boxer relives the moment he saw his mate, 27, collapse and die in the ring in a ‘freak accident’ that sent shockwaves through Australian sport
- Michael Zerafa will dedicate rematch with Jeff Horn to late boxer Dwight Ritchie
- Ritchie was training with Zerafa when he collapsed and died earlier this month
- A devastated Zerafa watched on as paramedics tried to save his training partner
- Ritchie, 27, will be farewelled by the boxing community at his funeral on Monday
Boxer Dwight ‘Cowboy’ Ritchie died during a recent training session
Champion boxer Michael Zerafa has opened up about the heartbreaking moment he watched his mate and sparring partner die in a tragic training accident.
The middleweight boxer will dedicate next month’s rematch with former world welterweight champion Jeff Horn to training partner Dwight Ritchie, whose sudden death rocked the boxing world on November 9.
The pair had been sparring together in the ring at a Melbourne gym when Ritchie, 27, took a few steps back and collapsed after he copped a blow to the stomach from Zerafa.
A devastated Zerafa could do nothing but helplessly watch on in horror as paramedics frantically tried to save the young father-of-three but were unable to revive him.
Middleweight boxing champion Michael Zerafa (pictured with his best friend Michelle) was training with sparring partner Dwight Ritchie in the ring when tragedy struck
‘I have seen people dead, I have never seen someone die,’ Zerafa told the Age.
‘It was so sad. He was fit, he was strong … there was nothing significant landed, nothing out of the ordinary, it was just a freak accident. Never in my life has anything like that occurred.’
Ritchie had been preparing for his own upcoming light middleweight fight against Tommy Browne at the time.
The boxing community will unite on Monday to farewell Ritchie at his funeral in Shepparton in country Victoria.
The sudden death of Dwight Ritchie (right) during training shocked the boxing world earlier this month. He’s pictured during a recent super welterweight title fight loss against Tim Tszyu
Zerafa remembered Ritchie as one of the most humble people he’d ever met in a heartfelt tribute released following his tragic death.
‘The boxing community has lost a truly great person, and I have lost a mate,’ the statement read.
‘Dwight’s passing is a further reminder why we can’t take life for granted. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Dwight lived his life with purpose, and those in the boxing community that came to know him, will forever cherish the positive memories we had with him.’
Two weeks on, Zerafa admits the tragedy crosses his mind on a daily basis.
‘But I am a born fighter, it’s something inside you. You have your team around you, your trainer to guide you, to tell you what needs to be done and you have to put everything out of your mind and just do it,’ he said.
Zerafa remembered Dwight Ritchie (pictured) as one of the most humble people he’d met
Zerafa admitted it was tough returning to training but says Ritchie would have wanted him to keep fighting.
That’s why his December 18 showdown with Horn in Brisbane is going ahead as planned.
Zerafa stunning the sporting world in August when he stormed to an upset victory against Horn in a fight dubbed the ‘Battle of Bendigo’.
‘There was no pause in my training, as sad it was the next morning we were up and training and doing what we had to do,’ he told AAP on Friday.
‘We’re focused, this is a big fight, a must win for us. He (Horn) will retire December 18, mark my words.’
Michael Zerafa (left) will dedicate his rematch against Jeff Horn (right) to his late mate