Phindile Mwelase dead: South African female boxer dies after failing to wake from coma

The death is the third in four days for the South African sports world

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Phindile Mwelase, the South African female boxer, died on Saturday after failing to emerge from a two-week coma.

Mwelase – who reportedly turned 31 while in hospital last week – was knocked out by Liz Butler in a fight on 10 October in Pretoria.

The light welterweight boxer was taken first to Kalafong Hospital, but was later transferred to Steve Biko Hospital where she underwent surgery to stem bleeding on the brain. She was taken off life support and moved out of intensive care last week, but it is thought that she never regained consciousness.

It has been a difficult week for South African sport, with three of the country’s sportsmen dying in the past four days. Runner Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was killed in a car crash on Friday, while the national goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa was shot and killed during an apparent robbery at his girlfriend’s home on Sunday.

Mwelase’s funeral will be held on Saturday in her hometown Ladysmith.

South African President Jacob Zuma paid tribute to the boxer and celebrated her sporting achievements in a statement:

“On behalf of government and all South Africans we wish to convey our earnest condolences to the family, relatives, friends, and the entire boxing fraternity,” he said.

“She joined a sport that is viewed as a predominantly male and was proving that women can also succeed in boxing.”