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Corrie Sanders-The Sniping Afrikaner


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Corrie Sanders is a name that will forever be tied to the guy he beat in a shocking upset: Wladimir Klitschko. A very fast-handed 6’4 heavyweight from South Africa, Sanders’ career was a mixed bag, with as many highs as lows. Despite capturing the WBO title from Klitschko and also holding the minor WBU title before that, he never fully realized his potential. Why? Probably because he didn’t always come in top shape. Otherwise, Corrie possessed everything necessary to be successful in the heavyweight scene of 90’s and early 2000’s. 

Cornelius Johannes Sanders was born 7 January 1966 in Brits, South Africa, to a family of Afrikaner descent (translated= Dutch), one of three children. In his youth, he played rugby, cricket and golf and later he would pursue that last hobby with passion. His uncle introduced him to boxing and he finished his amateur career in the late 80’s with 180 wins and 11 losses. He turned pro on 2 April 1989, scoring a first round ko against King Kong Dyubele in SA. In his 11th fight, he won the South African title by KO1 against former world class contender Johnny Du Plooy. In October 1992, he beat Johnny Nelson by UD10 and in June next year stopped the still game Bert Cooper by TKO3. 
He was 23-0 when he ran into his first obstacle in form of Tony Tubbs’ brother, Nate, who surprisingly knocked him out in 2 rounds. It was on 21 May 1994 in Hammanskraal, SA and after doing well in the first round, Corrie was first hurt with a straight left before being put down with a right hook and didn’t make the count. He rebounded with a TKO1-win over aging former world cruiser champion Carlos de Leon on 13 August, 3 months later. On 15 November 1997, he won the WBU belt against the teak tougn trialhorse Ross Purritty,  by UD. He defended it against Bobby Czyz on 12 June next year, at Mohegan Sun Arena in Montville, stopping the overmatched, over the hill and undersized Czyz in 2 rounds by TKO. He defended it twice more, both times by TKO1, against Jorge Valdes and Al “Ice” Cole, former IBF cruiser champion. 

He then faced the new hot contender, the strong and hard-hitting Hasim Rahman, who was 32-2 coming in. The fight was on 20 May 2000 in Atlantic City and his WBU title was on the line again. In a back and forth war, in round 3, Sanders dropped Rahman into the ropes with a massive left uppercut while against the ropes and Rahman looked seriously hurt. However, Rahman beat the count and as Sanders charged at him, he was put down by a quick counter right. He got up quickly but then took the knee to gain extra time to recover. In the next round, Sanders caught Rahman with a counter left again (his most dangerous weapon) and staggered him, but as he started punishing him, he lost his balance and fell down, allowing Rahman to get a breather. The ref called it a knockdown for some reason, even! By round 6, Sanders had visibly tired and Rahman was doing the attacking. In round 7, he was hurt by a left-right and then took punishment for about 20 seconds before the ref waved it off. This loss opened for question marks about his stamina and dedication to training. Corrie retired for a while after that, intending to become a professional golfer, but abandoned that ambition and returned to the ring in November 2001, stopping Michael Sprott by TKO1. After also stopping Otis Tisdale by TKO2, he was then chosen as the next opponent for WBO champ Wladimir “Dr. Steelhammer” Klitschko. He faced Klitschko on 8 March 2003 in Hanover, Germany. The 6’6 Klitschko was also 10 years younger and had held the title for 2 years, defending it five times. He was the heavy favorite against the 37-yearold South African, but Sanders’ favorite weapon of left hook again proved potent, as he sent the champion down twice late in round one and once more early in round two, before the fight ended after 27 seconds. 

This remains one of the greatest boxing upsets in modern time. However, unfortunately for Sanders, that would also prove to be his swan song. He was inactive for a year before signing to defend against big brother Klitschko, Vitali, aka Dr Ironfist. That fight happened 24 April 2004 at Staples Center in LA and Sanders, at 38 5 years older than VK, came in weighing at 106 kilos or 235 pounds while VK weighed in at 111 kilos, or 245 pounds. In the first round, Sanders caught the bigger man by surprise and hurt him with a quick combination, before “Big Vit” hit the deck after a follow up, but it wasn’t called a knock down. After a few competitive rounds, the Ukrainian started to take over and eventually pounded Sanders into defeat in round 8, as the ref mercifully stepped in right before the end of the round. That was it for him as a a serious player. He only fought sporadically after that and won three more fights before getting knocked out in 1 round by Osborne Machimana on 2 February 2008 in SA. He was now 42 and wisely retired, with a record of 42 wins, 31 by ko, and 4 losses, all by ko. 

After retirement, he pursued his favourite pastime of golf, still living in his birthplace of Brits, until the tragic day of 22 September 2012, when he was shot by a robber in a restaurant, while shielding his own daughter. He had been there to celebrate his nephew’s birthday and died on the spot, 46 years old. It was one of the most violent and tragic ends of a former famous boxer and champion. He will forever be remembered as a very exciting and capable offensive boxer, however his stamina was his greatest weakness and he never looked too muscular, but was still strong and tough. That he achieved his greatest success at 37 and against a future hall of famer only says something of his extraordinary talents and ferociousness. Rest in peace Corrie, you will never be forgotten! 








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  • 3 weeks later...

--- Missed this earlier. Corrie a big puncher tagged as a South African in a boycott era had to make boxing a part time job so he could earning a living playing pro rugby and golf, a very underrated athletic talent that could've gone far in this era's huge purses for big exciting KO stars...5 Star ***** rating!!!!!

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