A junior world champion bodybuilder from Umlazi, south of Durban, who had “a bright future ahead of him”, died a tragic death during a bodybuilding event in his hometown, KwaZulu-Natal police said on Friday.
Sifiso Lungelo Thabethe, 23, died on arrival in hospital on Saturday, August 5, after falling during the event at a community hall in D section, Umlazi.
In a video taken at the event, Thabethe can be seen flexing his muscles while the announcer tells the crowd about his achievements.
Dressed only in a black Speedo and socks, he walks on stage and attempts to do what looks like a backward somersault, while the crowd cheers him on.
He somehow lands head first and collapses. After a few seconds, a group of men try to help him when they realise that he isn’t getting up.
“He was rushed to hospital where he died on arrival,” said police spokesperson Colonel Thembeka Mbhele.
An inquest docket was opened at Umlazi police station for investigation, said Mbhele.
According to Body Building South Africa, “Sifiso had a signature backflip” he liked to perform on stage.
“We suspect, because he was wearing socks this time, that he slipped or didn’t get enough momentum and landed horribly on his head,” BBSA national executive president Wayne Price told News24.
The video of Sifiso in his final moments was circulated on social media, however, his family had asked that people desist from sharing it.
Price agreed. “We’re aware of a video of the incident circulating on social media, as is Sifiso’s family, and they’re understandably very upset about that.”
According to Muscle Evolution, a South African bodybuilding magazine, Thabethe was an IFBB Junior World Champion in the up to 75kg category.
The magazine said Thabethe “was described by many as a young man with a bright future”.