ATHENS – A coroner who examined the body of 16-year-old Greek boxing champion Vasilis Topalos, who died after a sparring match with an older and experienced fighter, said the teen died from a severe head injury but didn’t indicate if it was because of the match.
The medical examiner, Sokratis Tsantiris, told Proto Thema he found the king of brain injury that’s usually seen in car crashes. The teen collapsed in the bathroom of a gym where he was training and sparring.
His father Dimitris Topalos and the gym’s owner, Nikos Yidakos, said the youth fainted and fell in the bathroom but the autopsy said the injury was consistent with a much more violent incident.
The boxer with whom he was sparring wasn’t identified, and it wasn’t indicated whether Topalos, a European champion on a path to possibly became a world rated boxer as he became more experienced, was overmatched in the ring.
The teen’s grandmother, who wasn’t named, told Alpha News he was competing in a different weight division with a heavier and more experienced boxer and she believes blows to the head were responsible for the death although amateurs wear head protection.
“He apparently fainted and fell and hit his head hard. Our baby was in intensive care. There he fell into a coma for 17 days and died. We found out that there was a sparring match, they put him with a 20-year-old, about 70 kilos (154 pounds) and ours was 60 kilos (132 pounds) and 16 years old. This is what we know,” she reportedly said.
A Supreme Court Deputy Prosecutor responsible for sports has directed an investigation to see if charges will be brought against anyone involved in the incident, details of which are still sketchy.
World Boxing News lamented the loss of the young champion and said he was “tipped to be a future professional world champion.” Greece has had only one world champion in boxing, Anton Christoforidis, who won the Light Heavyweight title in 1941, but lost it the same year.
The Deputy Minister for Sports, Lefteris Avgenakis, has opened an investigation after releasing a solemn statement on the incident, the site noted. “The sports family of our country mourns the loss of the young boxing champion, Vasilis Topalos,” said Avgenakis.
“Many question marks remain. But I am sure that the ongoing investigation will shed light on every aspect of the unclear circumstances of his fatal injury,” he added about the tragedy.
The Hellenic Boxing Federation (EOP) said that, “We will immediately file a complaint against everyone responsible for investigating and attributing any criminal liability.”
Yidakos told the site that Topalos was found by another young fighter, Alik Lagazashvili, who heard a fall and went to the locker room to check on his gym mate, and called for help.