South Africa’s most well-known boxing trainer, Nick Durandt, has died in hospital following a tragic bike accident near the town of Clarens in the Free State.
He was 53.
Durandt was the president of the Crusaders Bike Club, and reportedly collided with a vehicle on the road between Bethlehem and Clarens on Friday afternoon, according to initial reports.
His son Damien said he was with him in hospital in Bethlehem when he died.
His son also reportedly said that after colliding the vehicle, his father somersaulted several times in the air before colliding with the road.
Durandt, a prolific trainer who coached 38 world champions and an incredible 97 national champions during a career spanning 29 years, had already been lost South African boxing following his retirement in May last year.
He cited the “disastrous” reign of former Boxing SA chief executive Moffat Qithi as the main reason for him becoming disillusioned with local boxing.
“I don’t want to throw stones at people anymore,” said Durandt at the time.
“But South African boxing has been thrown into turmoil by one man (Qithi) who didn’t have a clue about fulfilling his responsibilities. You can’t entrust a man with a criminal record to run a sport of this nature.”
Qithi, appointed in 2011, was fired in 2015 after being suspended in 2013 following allegations of financial impropriety and lying on his CV.
Durandt also blamed Fikile Mbalula for his inaction in trying revive the sport during his tenure as Minister of Sport and Recreation.
Moreover, he simply became tired of seeing “boxing being the black sheep of sports in South Africa”.
“When Nelson Mandela was president and Steve Tshwete the sports minister, we received our due recognition,” said Durandt.
“But now there’s a lack of support.”
Yet that didn’t mean he retired without fond memories.
“I had great talent I was able to nurture into world champions. I never wrapped fighters in cotton wool, never ran away from a challenge,” said Durandt.
“I’ve given 29 years to this business and I’ll love it until I die. I’ve lived it, my brother. I’ve had the glory.”
— Mandy Wiener (@MandyWiener) April 21, 2017
RIP Nick Durandt You changed the lives of many boxers RESPECT! #NickDurandt
— Barney Simon (@BarneySimon) April 21, 2017
What a shocking way to end a Friday. To hear that legendary boxing trainer #NickDurandt has died in a biking accident near Clarens.
— Marc Lewis (@MarcLewisZA) April 21, 2017