“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.”
Tributes began to flow immediately, with Luke Jackson among the fellow boxers sharing their thoughts and grief via Twitter, saying “we lost one of our own”. Jackson’s professional debut was on an undercard of Ritchie.
Tszyu posted on Facebook: “Today we lost a champion both in and out of the ring with the tragic passing of Dwight Ritchie. As a group we are all shattered, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Ritchie family as we all take a moment to remember a great warrior and champion. Gone too soon.”
It will be a difficult time for Zerafa, who shot to fame with his victory over Horn. Whether his rematch in December now goes ahead remains to be seen, and he will be another member of the boxing community who needs support during a difficult time.
Ritchie’s death adds to a difficult year for boxing and combat sports. At least three fighters have died in the ring in the United States in 2019, the most recent being Patrick Day, who died in October.
It will only intensify questions about the safety of the sport, which most medical associations already want banned given the risks to the health of the fighters.
Ellis has set up a GoFundMe page to help Ritchie’s family. Contributions can be made here.