Veteran boxer and WBO Africa lightweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka was injured in a hit-and-run car accident in East London yesterday.
The news stunned the boxing fraternity.
Police spokesman Captain Mluleki Mbi confirmed the hit- and-run, which happened in Amalinda on Saturday morning. “According to witnesses, a car hit another one at an intersection and sped off,” he said.
Vetyeka was rushed to Frere Hospital. One of his legs was broken in three places.
“I was getting to my car and was about to open the door when I was hit,” Vetyeka, 37, told the Dispatch from his hospital bed yesterday.
The accident comes as the three-time world champion was basking in the glory of his scintillating eight-round knockout win over Thompson Mokwana at Orient Theatre last weekend.
The win netted Vetyeka a WBO Africa lightweight title, which had paved the way for him to launch yet another world title challenge.
Vetyeka’s promoter Ayanda Matiti, of Xaba Promotions (XP), said the boxer had been scheduled to fight in his annual Madiba birthday celebration boxing tournament in July.
“Obviously he cannot fight in the tournament because his condition is under medical review now,” he said.
Incredibly, Vetyeka is the second boxer from XP to suffer a career-threatening incident.
Duncan Village boxer Mzuvukile Magwaca was shot in the leg by unknown assailants in Cape Town last year. Magwaca’s career is in limbo as he undergoes rehabilitation. He is currently on crutches.
Matiti, however, ruled out Vetyeka’s career taking a similar route, saying doctors had assured him that vital nerves had not been damaged.
“Doctors say he can resume training and that is a huge relief.” But the boxer, nicknamed “V12” due to his skills, is scheduled to undergo several operations starting today before the extent of his injuries can be determined.
The accident went viral on social media, even attracting the attention of the country’s lone major world champion Zolani Tete, who is in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to defend his WBO bantamweight title against Argentinean Omar Narvaez on Saturday.
“We are so sad to hear about Simpiwe Vetyeka’s accident,” the Tete camp said. “Our prayers are with him and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
Tete and Vetyeka shared training sessions at All Winners Boxing Club before the latter left to prepare for his Featherweight Super Four Series (S4) clash against Lerato Dlamini in Johannesburg.
After losing the fight last October, Vetyeka announced that he would be moving up to the lightweight division.
He made an impressive debut in the division when knocking out Mokwana, the reigning SA champion.