By Phenyo Molefe: Corrie Sanders’ life was celebrated as more than a thousand friends, family and sports personalities from various disciplines gathered on Monday to bid him farewell in a ceremony held in Pretoria, South Africa.
Just over a week ago one of boxing’s own sons sustained fatal gunshot wounds while attempting to shield his daughter from harm. Speculation has flared an investigation into claims his death could have been averted had he not been turned away from first hospital he was sent to. His murderers made their first court appearance earlier this week and remain incarcerated. The coming weeks or months may give us greater detail pertaining to events leading to his death however the details pertaining to his boxing career remain clear to us.
Battle of the West: Sanders vs Rahman
Leading up to this fight, I remember thinking that Rahman was going to wear Sanders down without much effort. However little did we know that we were about to welcome a gun battle fit for the Wild West. These gentlemen did not waste time with the niceties and measured each other with charged punches in the opening round. The first round ended with Sanders and Rahman delivering powerful blows, looking upon each other with disdain as they both remained standing. Round two was filled with bouts of flurry and I gave Corrie the edge here. He absorbed some stinging punishment from Rahman’s overhand rights but would often pivot, setting Rahman under pressure as he unleashed his own pistons. Even as the bell rung, the gentlemen seemed content to continue their gun-battle. Rahman fared better in the centre of the ring and when he pressed the action. Sanders nullified some of the younger man’s arsenal by forcing him against the ropes. It is here where Rahman would seemingly be stricken by some pseudo-paralysis as he carelessly bobbed and weaved into punches displaying some defensive ineptitude.
Round three proved somewhat lacklustre which saw the men seemingly wrestle along the ropes. However the heat was turned up with less than a minute to go, as they tussled along the ropes again; on this occasion Corrie broke out with a furious flurry landing an uppercut which almost sent Rahman over the ropes. Eddie Cotton ignored Rahman’s protests and forced him to take the count. Yet still dazed, Rahman fought off the ropes as Corrie came in flying with wild punches, only to find himself knocked down and facing the count courtesy of a powerful right. Round four begun with heavy artillery being thrown by both combatants as they simultaneously knocked each other down; However only Corrie faced the count as Rahman was able (barely) to steady himself along the ropes. Rahman would later take control of the fight in this round with his effective double jabs and body punches as Corrie begun to show signs of fatigue. Round five was void of any exciting action as both fighters took a breather; pawing their way throughout the round. Round six saw Rahman open his account with an explosive lead right hook which Sanders brushed off but failed to follow up with a meaningful counter. Throughout this round Rahman would comfortably sit back throwing textbook punches and then explode as he pelted Sanders’ body and head.
By the seventh round, the action had slowed considerably as the feverish pace had taken its toll on the fighters. All was soon reversed as Rahman sluggishly bounced off the ropes with 1.36 min remaining and tested Corrie with a straight right which rocked his head back. Rock took the cue and unleashed 37 more unanswered blows spurring Cotton to end the bout. Sanders was not only battling Rahman that night as he found himself consumed by fatigue; the Rock’s early investment in body shots served him well.
A Sniper’s Fire : Sanders vs Klitschko
I did not give Corrie much of a chance against Klitschko; he simply did not possess anything which the Klitschko locomotive could not crush. Even rumour of Lennox Lewis’ call did not offer hopes suffice in the eyes of many boxing pundits. However in characteristic fashion, Corrie remained confident seemingly unmoved by the giant who stood before him.
Wladimir began the fight with his jolting jab, while Corrie timed his onslaught showing surprising fluidity as he avoided some of Klitschko’s strikes. Sanders measured Klitschko with jabs lacking much conviction while he warmed up the coiled shooter in his left hand. A pattern emerged as Klitschko would walk Sanders down, who would then burst into a short onslaught when pushed against the ropes. With a minute remaining in the first round, Sanders launched into one of his onslaughts as he visibly rocked Klitschko with his left shooter. Sanders jumped back onto Klitschko firing punches in quick succession sending Wladimir down twice. To his credit a visibly dazed Wladimir stood up and took the count as he was gracefully saved by the bell.
Sanders begun the second round with both shooters drawn, knocking Wladimir down a third time with a short straight left hand. Sanders’ relentless flurry sent an unstable Wladimir down for the fourth and final time as the referee called time to the action with 2:32 min remaining on the clock. Sanders shocked the world and dominated Klitschko with his left hooter, yet again the underdog rose to occasion.
Corrie Sanders was unorthodox in countless aspects, he was not very active in the latter years but still managed to deliver some noted performances. His love for golf was known by all, as many speculated that is where his true passion rested .His former trainer Harold Volbrecht spoke avidly of Corrie’s plans to turn professional and play on the senior tour. However despite this all, his boxing talent could not be denied, his opponents often found it difficult to contain his unorthodox style and whipping straight left. He was fearless even in his most pressing battles (Vitali) and possessed a granite chin. Seemingly loved by all who met him, he remained remarkably humble as if diverting some of the status his achievements within the ring brought him.
Sanders fought 46 times, posting 42 wins, 31 by KO and 4 losses; however these efforts may not be suffice to see him inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame but he certainly made notable contributions to boxing in South Africa and is saluted by multitudes.