Former world heavyweight boxing champion Corrie Sanders was killed during a robbery at a restaurant in Brits, South Africa, North West police said on Sunday.
The former boxer was celebrating his daughter’s 21st birthday when three armed men arrived at the restaurant and started randomly shooting on Saturday night, Brigadier Thulani Ngubane said.
Sanders, 46, was shot in the hand and stomach, the South African Press Agency reports.
Sanders, nicknamed ‘The Sniper’ in his fighting days, was one of South Africa’s most successful boxers on the global stage, winning the WBO title and holding his own against some of the most respected boxers in the world.
The heavyweight southpaw, trained by Harold Volbrecht, fought 46 times in his career, losing only four bouts.
He got off to a great start as a professional, making a name for himself when he won his first 23 fights on the trot in the early 1990′s before he was stopped in the second round by Nate Tubbs in his first defeat.
Sanders made his first real breakthrough in May 2000, and while he lost to Hasim Rahman in a seventh-round knockout, the South African had dropped the American as early as the first round, proving his ability in the heavyweight ranks.
“I’ve never been hit like that in my life,” said Rahman, who would go on to beat Lennox Lewis the following year for the WBC, IBO and IBF titles.
After considering retirement, and winning a couple more bouts, Sanders accepted a late invitation in March 2003, at the age of 37, to fight Wladimir Klitschko, and he stopped the Ukrainian in the second round to lift the WBO crown.
Having relinquished the title, after Lewis announced his retirement and Sanders struggled to find a worthy opponent, the South African, now the number one challenger for the WBC belt, went up against Klitschko’s older brother, Vitali, and held him off in a gutsy display for eight rounds before he was knocked out.
He retired in 2008, after going down to fellow South African Osborne Machimana in his last contest in the ring, and Sanders, a successful businessman, became a keen golfer after hanging up his gloves.