Corrie Sanders celebrates with the championship belt after beating Wladimir Klitschko for the WBO world heavyweight title in 2003. Sanders died of gunshot wounds during a robbery in September.

The sporting world lost some top class athletes in 2012, including South Africa’s former world heavyweight champion, Corrie Sanders.


Hector Camacho

Thrilling Puerto Rican world champion at three weights who died aged 50 of gunshot wounds on November 24 following a shooting in San Juan.

Nicknamed “Macho”, Camacho was a charismatic showman who displayed speed and agility in the ring, but his recklessness outside brought him a wealth of trouble.

He won super lightweight, lightweight and light welterweight world titles in the 1980s and ended Sugar Ray Leonard’s last comeback bid in 1997 with a knockout victory.

Throughout his life, however, Camacho dealt with drug and alcohol addiction. In 2007 he was sentenced to seven years in prison in relation to a 2005 burglary.

That sentence was suspended, but he did eventually spend two weeks behind bars for violating his probation.

Michael Dokes

Former world heavyweight champion died of liver cancer aged 54 on August 11.

Nicknamed “Dynamite”, Dokes had the good fortune to be around in the era between the peak of Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Joe Frazier and Ken Norton and the arrival of Mike Tyson.

He won the world title in 1982, beating Mike Weaver in a first round stoppage. Dokes lost the title to South African Gerrie Coetzee in 1983 and his career and life went to pieces.

A cocaine addict for most of his life he was sent to prison for 10 years in 2000 for the attempted murder of his girlfriend but was released in 2008.

Corrie Sanders

South African former world heavyweight champion died of gunshot wounds aged 46 on September 23.

He died of wounds suffered when he dived in front of his daughter after armed men burst into a Johannesburg restaurant where the family was celebrating his nephew’s 21st birthday.

Sanders retired in 2008 with an impressive record of 42 wins against just four defeats, with his most famous victory coming in 2003 when he won the WBO world heavyweight title by knocking out Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko in the second round after putting him down four times.


Kevin Curran

the Zimbabwean all-rounder died on October 10 aged 53 after collapsing while out jogging.

One of the first from his country to be considered good enough to play at English county level, representing Gloucestershire and Northants in England in the 1980s and 1990s. Also played in two World Cups and coached his national side from 2005-07.


Jocky Wilson

Two-time former world darts champion Jocky Wilson died on March 25 aged 62 of chronic pulmonary obstructive disease – a lung disorder.

A pugnacious Scotsman, he lost all his teeth at an early age because he believed his grandmother when she told him that the water had been poisoned by the ‘Sassenachs’ (English).

He reached at least the quarter-finals of every World Championship between 1979 and 1991, was a four-time British champion between 1981 and 1988, and a three-time Scottish Masters champion.


Mark Lenzi

Olympic gold medalist died on April 9 aged 43 after his blood pressure dipped alarmingly leading to fainting spells while receiving treatment for a heart illness.

Began his sporting life as a wrestler but watching Greg Louganis win diving gold in 1984 inspired him to change sports.

It paid off handsomely with gold in the 3-metres board in the 1992 Games and a bronze four years later. Also first diver to record a score of over 100 points from one dive.


Gary Ablett

Able defender who made history by becoming the only player to win the FA Cup with both Liverpool and Everton died aged 46 on January 1 of cancer.

Ablett won the 1989 FA Cup with Liverpool – beating Everton 3-2 – but missed out on the double as Arsenal denied them with a winning goal with virtually the last kick of their final game. Moved on to Everton and lifted the Cup in 1995.

Had spells in coaching and showed tremendous courage in his 16-month fight against non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

John Connelly

Oustanding winger and a member of England’s 1966 World Cup- winning squad died aged 74 of cancer on October 25.

Capped 20 times by England from 1959 to 1966 – scoring seven times – he made just one appearance in the 1966 World Cup finals in the first group game before being dropped.

However, he received a World Cup winners medal in 2009 when FIFA changed the rules to allow all World Cup winning squad members to be awarded one.

Won the First Division title with Burnley in 1960 – in all he scored 105 goals in 265games for them – and then with Manchester United in 1965 where he scored 22 goals in 80 appearances.

However, shortly afterwards he fell out with Matt Busby and was sold to Second Division Blackburn Rovers. Later owned a fish and chips shop named “Connelly’s Plaice”.


The goalkeeper with Brazil’s magnificent 1970 World Cup-winning side died aged 74 from a lung complaint on August 25.

The 39-times capped Felix, who was known as a smoker during his playing days – even taking a crafty drag during matches on occasion – died of pulmonary emphysema complicated by pneumonia.

Was unfairly termed the weak link in the great side.

However, he was to have the last laugh when they beat Italy in the final. His daughter Ligia Cardoso recounted how he rang her after the final to say, “Now you can tell everyone that dad is not a ‘frangueiro’!” – a pejorative slang term used to describe a keeper who regularly leaks goals.

Dave Sexton

Former Chelsea and Manchester United manager died aged 82 on November 25.

Sexton won the FA Cup with Chelsea in 1970, three years after taking charge, before leading the club to their first European trophy with success in the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following season.

Sexton, son of top-class amateur boxer Archie, left in 1974 and coached lesser lights QPR to a stunning second placed finish in the First Division title race in 1976.

Succeeded charismatic Tommy Docherty for a second time, following Chelsea, this time at United in July 1977.

Rashidi Yekini

Nigerian 1993 African Footballer of the Year died May 4 aged 48 following a brief illness.

Yekini scored 37 goals in 58 appearances for Nigeria between 1983 and 1998 but many will remember him most for his emotional celebration after scoring Nigeria’s first ever goal in a World Cup finals in the 3-0 humbling of Bulgaria in the 1994 edition.

He held the netting at the back of the goal and shook it, yelling to the heavens at the same time.

Motor racing

John Fitch

American racing car driver died aged 95 on October 3. Part of the legendary Mercedes-Benz team which included Stirling Moss and Juan Manuel Fangio.

Won the 1955 prestigious Mille Miglia race but was also part of the team in the Le Mans 24-hour race when teammate Pierre Levegh had an accident and the car went into the crowd killing the driver and 79 others – the deadliest accident in motor sport history. It prompted Fitch – who had been sitting with Levegh’s wife at the time of the crash – to invest his time in designing safety devices for cars on and off the track. Always lived life to the full, he was a fighter ace in World War II.


Mervyn Davies

Welsh Grand Slam-winning captain died on March 16 aged 65 after a long illness.

Outstanding No 8 who led a magnificent Welsh side to the 1976 Five Nations Grand Slam and featured on two successful British and Irish Lions tours of New Zealand in 1971 and then South Africa in 1974.

He won 38 caps for Wales and would have probably captained the 1977 Lions but for suffering a brain haemorrhage playing for Swansea against Pontypool in 1976. He died on the eve of the present Wales side’s Grand Slam-sealing win over France.

Dr Jack Matthews

Hard-tackling centre for Wales and the British and Irish Lions died aged 92 on July 18.

Known as ‘Dr Jack’ – he would sometimes deliver babies in his Cardiff base on the eve of international matches – he played 17 times for Wales and six times for the Lions.

Described as ‘a cross between a bulldozer and a brick wall’ in reference to his tackling he was also a notable amateur boxer, once drawing a four round bout with Rocky Marciano.

He would have won many more caps but for serving as a doctor in World War II, something which marked him for the rest of his life.

“Our generation – the ones who survived or were spared – have spent the rest of our lives trying to make every last minute count one way or another.

“It was the deal we struck with ourselves privately to keep our sanity and to honour those who didn’t make it.” – Sapa-AFP