Michael Zerafa breaks silence after Dwight Ritchie tragedy
A heartbroken Michael Zerafa has paid tribute to fellow Australian boxer Dwight Ritchie, who's death sent shockwaves through the local boxing community.
The pair had been sparring as both men prepared for upcoming fights when Ritchie collapsed during the freak incident.
Zerafa said the 27-year-old father of three has found through six rounds of sparring when a body shot that was "nothing out of the ordinary saw the nightmare scene unfold.
Paramedics tried to resuscitate Ritchie but they were unable to save the boxer.
Ritchie's promoter Jake Ellis confirmed the tragic news on Facebook, writing: "It is with great sadness and shock to announce that the fighting cowboy Dwight Ritchie sadly passed away today doing what he loved.
"As Dwight's promoter and friend it's unbearable to accept the tragic news that's just surfaced.
"Dwight will always be remembered by the boxing fraternity as one of the brightest talents in Australia who's fighting style embodied exactly how he lived.
"RIP Cowboy you'll be forever missed."
The Australian boxing community was in shock with an outpouring of grief after the nightmare scenario played out.
But speaking to Seven News, Zerafa said it was freak accident.
"He took a few backwards steps, held his chest and just collapsed," Zerafa told Seven News. "We did everything we could to save him but it wasn't enough."
Ritchie was set to return to the ring for the first time since his point decision loss to Tim Tszyu in August.
Zerafa was preparing for his rematch with Jeff Horn in December.
Zerafa also penned a heartbroken letter to Ritchie on Exclusive Insight, detailing the long history of the close friends and his devastation at his loss.
"There are simply no words to describe how I am feeling right now," Zerafa wrote.
"Dwight was one of the most humble people I have ever met.
"We had known each other since we were teenagers, when we were just starting out in the sport. And for the past 10 years, Dwight and I had been supporting each other inside, and outside of the ring.
"Yesterday, was an absolute tragedy, and as tough as it is right now for myself, I can only imagine how difficult the past 24 hours has been for Dwight's family.
"My heart bleeds for his three children and his beautiful partner. I have spoken to the family, and given my deepest condolences. The boxing community has lost a truly great person, and I have lost a mate.
"Dwight's passing is a further reminder why we can't take life for granted. Nothing in life is guaranteed.
"Dwight, you will always be remembered. Rest in Peace mate."
Whether Zerafa's rematch with Horn in December goes ahead is still unclear.
The outpouring of grief is still continuing with Tszyu taking to Instagram to share his grief.
I can’t believe the news of Dwight Richie’s passing. RIP pic.twitter.com/Qs2IxhyeiU— Billy The Kid (@BillyDib) November 9, 2019
Today we lost one of our own 😔— Luke Jackson (@LukeJackson) November 9, 2019
I remember having my professional debut on Dwight’s card. Sending my love to his family, loved ones and the whole of boxing Australia 💔
RIP Dwight Ritchie 🙏🏼 pic.twitter.com/dAzV6cAF2T
RIP Dwight Richie, didn’t know him personally, died doing something we love. https://t.co/hUVUxuCxmY— ClaressaT-rexShields (@Claressashields) November 9, 2019
Boxing commentator Ben Damon called it "an utterly tragic day" and said the boxing community would raise money for Ritchie's family.
Team Ellis Boxing has already started a Go Fund Me campaign which has raised over $21,000 for Ritchie's children.
- with AAP