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Boxing | South Africa

Vital Klitschko (L) and Corrie Sanders © Action Images

Klitschkos pay tribute to Sanders

Vitali Klitschko has paid tribute to Corrie Sanders, calling the late SA heavyweight "the most difficult opponent I ever fought".

The 41-year-old WBC champion told Germany's Sport Bild Plus on Monday, "Corrie was fast and could give and take a punch.

”His style was very dangerous and did not suit me. I was very pleased to be able to win my fight against him."

Sanders (46), who died on Sunday after being shot in an armed robbery, beat Vitali's younger brother Wladimir by technical knock-out in Hanover, Germany, in 2003.

He stopped the Ukrainian, who now holds the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO titles, in the second round in a major upset to win the WBO title.

Sanders fought Vitali in Los Angeles a year later for the vacant WBC heavyweight title, but lost by a technical knock-out in the eighth round.

The Klitschko brothers expressed condolences on their Facebook page on Sunday after hearing of Sanders's death.

"We were shocked to learn of the sudden death of Corrie Sanders and we want to express our sincere condolences to his family," they said.

"We will remember Corrie as a great person both inside and outside the ring. He was a great fighter with a big heart who always positively represented the sport of boxing."


Harold Volbrecht, who trained Sanders for the first 14 years of his career as a professional, said on Monday, "He stayed with me and my family until he got married. He was like a son to me.

"I took over as his trainer for his first professional fight (against King Kong Dyubele in April 1989)," Volbrecht told Sapa.

"I flew to Cape Town, where Corrie stayed at the time, to watch the fight and I brought him back to Benoni.”

Volbrecht said he had been fortunate to train some of the leading SA boxers, including former IBF lightweight champion Philip Holiday and IBF and WBA super-featherweight champion Brian Mitchell.

But he was closer to Sanders than any of the other fighters he trained. "Corrie was different because he stayed in my house," Volbrecht said.

"We were much closer because I gave him daily advice. We had a very good relationship. He was a brilliant all-round sportsman.

"A lot of people assumed he had a powerful punch because he was a big guy, but he did not pick up heavy weights. His hand speed and accuracy made him so effective.

"Muscle means nothing in boxing, and Corrie knew it. He understood the techniques of the sport."

Volbrecht said Sanders, a keen golfer, had hoped to turn professional and play on the Champions Tour after he turned 50.

"It was his dream to play on the seniors tour as a professional. He had another four years to wait, but he was a brilliant golfer because he hit the ball so far."


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