“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.
“There had always been a professional and mutual respect between us.
“(Saturday) 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.”
Zerafa shot to prominence with his upset victory over Horn in Bendigo on August 31.
It took his record to 27 wins and three losses from his 30 bouts and was expected to be a springboard to bigger fights for the Victorian, although he faces a rematch with Horn first in Brisbane on December 18.
Since Ritchie’s passing there has been some speculation as to whether that fight will go ahead as planned, but in his post he thanked his good mate for what he had learned from him both as a fighter and a person.
“I appreciate all the messages of support that I have been receiving from family, friends, media and the boxing community,” Zerafa continued.
“Dwight’s passing is a further reminder why we can’t take life for granted. Nothing in life is guaranteed. Dwight lived his life with purpose, and those in the boxing community that came to know him, will forever cherish the positive memories we had with him.
“He taught me so much, not just as a boxer but as a person, and I will always be thankful for the lessons Dwight shared with me about life.
“Dwight, you will always be remembered. Rest in Peace mate.”
Jake Ellis, Ritchie’s promoter and friend, has set up a GoFundMe page to help Ritchie’s family. Contributions can be made here.
Aiming to raise $50,000, it has already past the $20,000 mark since being launched on Sunday.
James is The Sydney Morning Herald’s Sport digital editor. He has previously held positions at AAP and, most recently, football website FourFourTwo where he was Southeast Asian managing editor.