Within the last 48 hours, reports have emerged from South Africa that 46 year old former WBO Heavyweight Champion Corrie Sanders, one of the most popular sportsmen in the country, has been shot and killed in an armed robbery while celebrating his nephew’s 21st birthday.
The South African southpaw, who hailed from Pretoria in the Gauteng region, was known as "The Sniper" for his fast-handed big-hitting style, accruing a 46 fight record consisting of 42 wins, of which 31 came by knockout.
Sanders got his first victory back in 1989 when he defeated the colourfully named King Kong Dyubele with a first round knockout in Cape Town.
In just his 11th professional fight, Sanders defeated the more experienced Johnny DuPlooy with a first round knockout in Sun City in 1991 and was unbeaten in 23 bouts before losing to the American Nate Tubbs in Hammanskraal in 1994.
Sanders returned to his winning ways against former Cruiserweight king Carlos DeLeon and also defeated future Cruiserweight world champion Johnny Nelson.
In his youth, Sanders was a very talented sportsman, being a near scratch golfer and a fly half on the rugby pitch.
In 1997, in Hammanskraal, Sanders, then aged 33 and in his 34th fight, faced America's Russy Purrity for the minor WBU title and was victorious with a wide points decision.
The southpaw went onto score victories against two weight world champion Bobby Cycz in 1998 in Connecticut with a second round knockout and former Cruiserweight champion Alfred Cole before Sanders lost his title to future undisputed champion Hashim Rahman in May 2000, prompting Rahman to state that he had never been hit as hard in his life than when he fought Sanders.
In March, 2003, at age 37, Sanders finally got his much deserved crack at a major world title when he travelled to Hannover, Germany to take on Wladimir Klitschko for the WBO trinket.
Giving up two inches in height, 17 pounds in weight and four inches in reach, Sanders was a huge underdog, and despite being so far away from home, he put the giant Ukrainian under pressure with his hand speed and power, dropping the younger Klitschko four times enroute to a second round stoppage.
Sanders took home the title, stunning the overwhelmingly pro-Klitschko house so much so that the bible of boxing "The Ring" voted it the upset of the year in 2003.
Six months after the greatest triumph in his career, Sanders vacated the WBO title to take on WBC champion Vitali Klitschko, knowing that Vitali would be looking to restore Klitschko family honour.
While Sanders did score some success, rocking the elder Klitschko to his boots twice, the South African was battered for the remaining six rounds of the fight before was stopped in the eighth frame.
Afterward, Sanders would only fight four more times, engaging in low key bouts and ending his career at the age of 42, in almost perfect symmetry, as he was knocked out in just one round by Osbourne Machimana at Kempton Park for Sanders' old domestic title.
Away from the ring, Sanders pursued various business interests, such as a Game Reserve, and as a gifted golfer, took part in numerous pro-am tournaments in his native South Africa, providing him with good income and a strong post-boxing career.
It was reported that on the day of his tragic murder, he played golf before attending his nephews 21st birthday at a local restaurant. A group of armed robbers came into the restaurant, demanding phones and wallets, and it is reported that Sanders was shot in the stomach and hand reportedly trying to protect his daughter from harm.
Despite the efforts of a nearby hospital, Sanders passed away from his wounds.
This writer hopes that the killers are caught quickly and punished fully in accordance with the current statutes of South African law, and that the contributions that Corrie Sanders has made to sport in South Africa are not forgotten.
Thanks for the memories, Corrie.