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Corrie Sanders

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Corrie Sanders
Cornelius Johannes Sanders

(1966-01-07)7 January 1966
Brits, North West,
South Africa
Died23 September 2012(2012-09-23) (aged 46)
Pretoria, Gauteng,
South Africa
NationalitySouth African
Other namesThe Sniper
Height1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)
Reach196 cm (77 in)
Boxing record
Total fights46
Wins by KO31

Cornelius Johannes Sanders (7 January 1966 – 23 September 2012) was a South African professional boxer who competed from 1989 to 2008. He won the WBO heavyweight title in 2003 after knocking out Wladimir Klitschko in two rounds, which was considered one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight boxing history; The Ring magazine named it the Upset of the Year. In 2004, having vacated the WBO title, Sanders faced Wladimir's brother Vitali Klitschko in an unsuccessful challenge for the vacant WBC and Ring heavyweight titles. He also held the WBU heavyweight title from 1997 until 2000 and the South Africa national heavyweight title in 1991.

Nicknamed "The Sniper", Sanders was a southpaw with a long reach, and was known for carrying formidable knockout power in his straight left hand.[1] He died in a hospital in the early hours of 23 September 2012[2] after being shot during an armed robbery.[3][4] Sanders also held wins against former cruiserweight champions Johnny Nelson, Carlos de Leon, Bobby Czyz, and Al Cole.

Early life and amateur career[edit]

Sanders grew up in Brits, South Africa. He had two siblings and was of Afrikaner descent. In his youth, he played rugby, cricket, and golf.[5] Having been introduced to boxing by his uncle, Sanders finished his amateur career in the late 1980s with 180 wins and 11 losses.[6] He won the amateur South African heavyweight title four times from 1985-1988.[5]

Professional career[edit]

Sanders made his professional debut in 1989 with a first-round knockout of King Kong Dyubele on 2 April 1989. He went on to win his next 22 bouts, 14 by knockout. Among the fighters he defeated during that streak were Steve Zouski, Art Card, future WBO cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson, and future world title challenger Bert Cooper. In his 24th bout, on 21 May 1994, Sanders suffered his first defeat, to Nate Tubbs via a second-round knockout.[4]

He fought 12 more times over the next five years, including a first-round knockout over former world cruiserweight champion Carlos De León and a second-round knockout over another former world champion, Bobby Czyz. He lost by seventh-round stoppage in a slugfest fight with future unified and two-time world heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman. Sanders and Rahman both knocked each other down during the bout, and Sanders was ahead on the judges' scorecards prior to the stoppage.[6] Rahman said of Sanders following their match: "I've never been hit that hard in my life."[7] Returning to the ring in 2001, he scored a quick win over Michael Sprott and then followed this up with a defeat of Otis Tisdale in 2002. Corrie Sanders' biggest weapons were his southpaw fast hands that he used to knock fighters out early.[4]

WBO heavyweight champion[edit]

Despite fighting three rounds in the last two years, the WBO sanctioned a challenge to their heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko. Sanders had accepted the bout on short notice and was a 40-1 underdog.[4] On 8 March 2003, Sanders provided a stunning upset in Hanover, Germany, by dropping Klitschko four times to win the WBO belt by a second-round knockout.[8] The Ring magazine named it the Upset of the Year for 2003.[4] Klitschko later called Sanders the hardest puncher he ever faced in a December 2014 interview with The Ring, saying: "I’ve been in boxing for 25 years and I never fought anybody in this game that punched like Corrie Sanders."[9]

WBC heavyweight title challenge[edit]

Sanders had initially sought a unification bout with WBA heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr., who had also won his title in March 2003, and then with heavyweight contender David Tua. When those negotiations fell through, he was scheduled to defend the WBO title against Lamon Brewster on 18 October 2003. However, due to a conflict between WBO and Sanders's promoter, the bout did not take place.[10] Sanders then vacated the WBO title to sign a contract to fight for the vacant WBC belt.[4] The fight took place on 24 April 2004, against Wladimir's older brother, Vitali. Sanders was stopped by Vitali in the eighth round of the fight in the Staples Center in Los Angeles. After Sanders death, Vitali went on to pay his respects to Sanders and called this the hardest fight of his career.[11]

Eight months later, Sanders knocked out Alexei Varakin in the second round of a contest in Soelden, Austria in December 2004.[12] He briefly retired after that bout.[13]

Sanders returned to action after two years in November 2006 to score a second round stoppage win over the Australian heavyweight champion Colin Wilson at the Convention Centre in Mafikeng. He had signed with Golden Gloves Promotions, and won another bout in South Africa against Brazilian Daniel Bispo in May 2007. His last bout, of the South African heavyweight title, was a loss to Osborne Machimana, a bout he took despite Sanders being injured beforehand. Sanders' final record was 42 wins (31 by knockout) and 4 losses.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Corrie Sanders and his wife Suzette had a son and a daughter.[5]


On 22 September 2012, Sanders was fatally shot in an armed robbery at a restaurant called Thatch Haven in Brits, South Africa, where a function was being held for his nephew's 21st birthday. He had been near the entrance of the restaurant talking to his 15-year-old daughter Marinique and a cousin when three robbers entered firing their guns.[14] Sanders had used his body to shield his daughter from oncoming bullets and then, while bleeding from bullet wounds in his right arm and stomach, pulled her to the ground and whispered for her to pretend to be dead.[15][16][17] Sanders was taken to a hospital in Pretoria, where he died in the early hours of 23 September 2012 of his wounds.[18]

On 27 September 2012, following a tip-off, North West police arrested three men in Oukasie near Brits, charging them with the murder of Sanders. All three were citizens of Zimbabwe.[14] At one address, two suspects were apprehended and police recovered a cellular phone, a vehicle key, a purse and cash stolen during the robbery. Police then went to a second address, arrested a third suspect, and recovered a handbag also stolen in the robbery.[19] The trial was postponed until August 2013 as investigators attempted to use a fourth suspect, now serving a 30-year sentence in Zimbabwe for killing a police officer, to locate the gun used in the crime.[20]

On 11 February 2015 at a High Court in Pretoria, Judge Ferdi Preller sentenced Paida Fish, Chris Moyo and Samuel Mabena each to 43 years' imprisonment, of which they have to serve 30, on charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.[14]

Professional boxing record[edit]

46 fights 42 wins 4 losses
By knockout 31 4
By decision 11 0
No. Result Record Opponent Type Round, time Date Location Notes
46 Loss 42–4 Osborne Machimana TKO 1 (12), 2:41 2 Feb 2008 Emperor's Palace, Kempton Park, South Africa For South African heavyweight title
45 Win 42–3 Daniel Bispo UD 10 12 May 2007 Emperor's Palace, Kempton Park, South Africa
44 Win 41–3 Colin Wilson TKO 2 (10) 24 Nov 2006 Convention Centre, Mafikeng, South Africa
43 Win 40–3 Alexey Varakin KO 2 (8), 1:59 14 Dec 2004 Schwarzl Freizeit Zentrum, Sölden, Austria
42 Loss 39–3 Vitali Klitschko TKO 8 (12), 2:46 24 Apr 2004 Staples Center, Los Angeles, California, US For vacant WBC and The Ring heavyweight titles
41 Win 39–2 Wladimir Klitschko TKO 2 (12), 0:27 8 Mar 2003 Preussag Arena, Hanover, Germany Won WBO heavyweight title
40 Win 38–2 Otis Tisdale TKO 2 (10), 1:40 9 Nov 2002 Coca-Cola Bricktown Events Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, US
39 Win 37–2 Michael Sprott TKO 1 (8), 1:25 3 Nov 2001 Carnival City, Brakpan, South Africa
38 Loss 36–2 Hasim Rahman TKO 7 (12), 1:50 20 May 2000 Bally's Park Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US Lost WBU heavyweight title
37 Win 36–1 Al Cole TKO 1 (12), 1:13 19 Feb 2000 Carnival City, Brakpan, South Africa Retained WBU heavyweight title
36 Win 35–1 Jorge Valdes TKO 1 (12), 0:30 2 Jul 1999 Whitchurch Leisure Centre, Bristol, England Retained WBU heavyweight title
35 Win 34–1 Bobby Czyz TKO 2 (12), 1:43 12 Jun 1998 Mohegan Sun Arena, Montville, Connecticut, US Retained WBU heavyweight title
34 Win 33–1 Ross Puritty UD 12 15 Nov 1997 Carousel Casino, Hammanskraal, South Africa Won vacant WBU heavyweight title
33 Win 32–1 Arthur Weathers TKO 1 (10), 1:37 7 Feb 1997 Las Vegas Hilton, Winchester, Nevada, US
32 Win 31–1 Olian Alexander TKO 2 (10) 12 Sep 1996 Hilton, Huntington, New York, US
31 Win 30–1 Sean Hart TKO 2 (10), 1:18 20 Aug 1996 The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, US
30 Win 29–1 Curtis Shepard KO 1 (10), 1:12 20 Jul 1996 Morula Sun, Mabopane, South Africa
29 Win 28–1 Keith Fletcher KO 4 (10), 1:16 26 Jan 1996 Hilton Metropole Hotel, Brighton, England
28 Win 27–1 James Pritchard TKO 1 (10) 2:00 5 Aug 1995 Manuel Lujan Building, Albuquerque, New Mexico, US
27 Win 26–1 Nikolay Kulpin UD 10 1 Apr 1995 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
26 Win 25–1 Garing Lane PTS 8 24 Sep 1994 Wembley Arena, London, England
25 Win 24–1 Carlos de León TKO 1 (10), 0:49 13 Aug 1994 Convention Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
24 Loss 23–1 Nate Tubbs KO 2 (10), 1:26 21 May 1994 Carousel Casino, Hammanskraal, South Africa
23 Win 23–0 Mike Williams KO 1 (10), 2:58 19 Mar 1994 Carousel Casino, Hammanskraal, South Africa
22 Win 22–0 Marshall Tillman TKO 6 (10) 5 Feb 1994 The Aladdin, Paradise, Nevada, US
21 Win 21–0 Levi Billups KO 1 (10) 6 Nov 1993 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
20 Win 20–0 George Stephens TKO 1 (10) 4 Sep 1993 The Aladdin, Paradise, Nevada, US
19 Win 19–0 Bert Cooper TKO 3 (10), 1:26 6 Jun 1993 Steel Pier, Atlantic City, New Jersey, US
18 Win 18–0 Matthew Brooks TKO 1 (10), 2:00 17 Apr 1993 ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California, US
17 Win 17–0 Johnny Nelson UD 10 24 Oct 1992 Morula Sun, Mabopane, South Africa
16 Win 16–0 Mike Evans UD 10 22 Aug 1992 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
15 Win 15–0 Mike Dixon PTS 8 9 May 1992 The Mirage, Paradise, Nevada, US
14 Win 14–0 Anthony Wade UD 10 22 Feb 1992 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
13 Win 13–0 Art Card TKO 1 (10) 23 Nov 1991 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
12 Win 12–0 Mike Rouse UD 10 28 Sep 1991 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
11 Win 11–0 Johnny DuPlooy KO 1 (12) 27 Jul 1991 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa Won vacant South African heavyweight title
10 Win 10–0 Steve Gee TKO 4 (8), 1:05 6 Apr 1991 Dolphin Centre, Darlington, England
9 Win 9–0 Steve Zouski UD 8 8 Nov 1990 Biloxi, Mississippi, US
8 Win 8–0 Moses Mthama TKO 1 (6) 4 Aug 1990 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
7 Win 7–0 Jorge Vilchis KO 1 (8) 23 May 1990 First National Bank Arena, Durban, South Africa
6 Win 6–0 Weaver Qwabe TKO 1 (8) 29 Mar 1990 Portuguese Hall, Johannesburg, South Africa
5 Win 5–0 Samson Mahlangu TKO 3 (6), 2:20 9 Sept 1989 Morula Sun, Mabopane, South Africa
4 Win 4–0 Gideon Hlongwa TKO 3 (6), 2:15 5 Aug 1989 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
3 Win 3–0 David Malatsi TKO 1 (4) 27 May 1989 Superbowl, Sun City, South Africa
2 Win 2–0 Prince Tukane PTS 4 24 Apr 1989 Goodwood Showgrounds, Cape Town, South Africa
1 Win 1–0 King Kong Dyubele TKO 1 (4) 2 Apr 1989 Good Hope Centre, Cape Town, South Africa


  1. ^ Christie, Matt (7 January 2016). "On This Day: Heavyweight hammer-fist Corrie Sanders born in 1966". Boxing News. Newsquest. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  2. ^ "Former heavyweight champ Corrie Sanders killed in South Africa". Fox News. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  3. ^ "Corrie Sanders Shot, Later Dies From The Injuries - Boxing News". Boxingscene.com. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "Corrie Sanders obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 24 September 2012. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 6 October 2012.
  5. ^ a b c Rawling, John (24 September 2012). "Corrie Sanders obituary". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 8 March 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  6. ^ a b Evans, Gavin (25 September 2012). "Corrie Sanders: Heavyweight world champion". The Independent. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  7. ^ Meyers, Jeff (6 April 2020). "The "Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda" Chronicles—Corrie Sanders (Heavyweights Vol. I)". Boxing News 24/7. Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2021.
  8. ^ "Sanders Stuns Klitschko With Knockout". Huron Daily Tribune. 7 March 2003. Retrieved 8 March 2013.
  9. ^ Wainright, Anson. "Best I've Faced: Wladimir Klitschko." The Ring. December 2014.
  10. ^ "Он уничтожил Владимира Кличко за три с половиной минуты. После карьеры хотел стать тренером, но умер от пули" (in Russian). Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  11. ^ Collins, Michael (24 September 2012). "Vitali Klitschko: Corrie Sanders Was My Toughest Fight". Boxing News 24/7. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  12. ^ "SANDERS BOMBS OUT VARA..." Eurosport. 14 December 2004. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  13. ^ a b Sares, Ted (27 July 2010). "Corrie Sanders: When the End Finally Came". Bad Left Hook. Archived from the original on 29 July 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  14. ^ a b c "Corrie Sanders killers get 30 years each". News 24. 11 February 2015.
  15. ^ "The Citizen Online | Ring hero Sanders killed - Local News". Citizen.co.za. 23 September 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  16. ^ "Corrie Sanders Murder: Massive Hunt For The Killers". Boxing Scene. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  17. ^ van Zuydam, Lali (10 May 2014). "Sanders killing: family face alleged killers". Independent Online. Retrieved 10 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Corrie could have been saved - family". News24. 7 August 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2012.
  19. ^ "iafrica.com Corrie 'murderers' caught". iAfrica.com. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2015.
  20. ^ Ngoepe, Karabo; Chabungu, Boitumelo (16 March 2013). "New obstacle in Corrie Sanders murder case". iolnews.

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Minor world boxing titles
Title last held by
Pierre Coetzer
South African heavyweight champion
27 July 1991 – 1999
Title next held by
Jacob Mofokeng
Title last held by
George Foreman
WBU heavyweight champion
11 November 1997 – 20 May 2000
Succeeded by
Major world boxing titles
Preceded by WBO heavyweight champion
8 Mar 2003 – October 2003
Title next held by
Lamon Brewster
Juan Carlos Rubio
UD10 Francisco Bojado
The Ring Upset of the Year
TKO2 Wladimir Klitschko

Glen Johnson
KO9 Roy Jones Jr.
Heavyweight status
Preceded by Latest born world champion to die
23 September 2012 – 1 September 2013
Succeeded by