Tragedy has hit the ongoing National Sports Festival in Asaba, the Delta State capital, following the death of a boxer representing Imo State, Chukwuemeka Igboanugo.
The Imo-born Igboanugo died after losing a fight through knockout to Anambra’s Prince Gaby Amagor in the 86kg category.
Igboanugo was hit in the chin and refused to get up which led the referee to announce the fight in Amagor’s favour.
However, amidst the Anambra man’s triumph, the crowd noticed that Igboanugo had failed to get up from the mat which led to him being lifted out for medical treatment, then he was taken to the hospital.
“It happened yesterday (Monday). I didn’t even know what was happening, we just saw that he didn’t get up.
“He was immediately taken out of the ring for medical treatment before being rushed to the hospital, where he was confirmed dead,” a boxer from Lagos State told our correspondent.
The commissioner for information, Mr Charles Aniagwu, confirmed the incident but could not say exactly what led to the death.
“You cannot say exactly what led to the death until an autopsy is carried out and the report known. It is unfortunate that such happened to one of the participants,” he said.
Meanwhile the mood at the camp of lmo State contingent looked suppressed owing to the calamity but the athletes have vowed to make sure they put the incident behind them.
One of the table tennis players who does not want his name mentioned said the news came to them as rude shock, considering that the boxer was an easy going man.
“He came with the intention to win gold but the unexpected has happened. We lost him but we will not allow that to weaken our spirit. We shall continue to pray for his soul and talk to our state government to assist the family considering that he died when representing the state”
Meanwhile, fight at the ring was suspended for over four hours Tuesday after the fight between Ondo and Oyo resulted in a crisis.
The referee who was accused of partiality was abused by other participants after declaring the Oyo boxer winner while others resisted the victory, stopped other fights and started to throw chairs into the ring.
It took security agents and officials hectic time to appease the rowdy athletes who insisted that the referee must be changed for being biased and partial while other activities were put on hold for hours.