A bodybuilder who was initially ridiculed after botching an attempted backflip at a competition has reportedly died because of injuries suffered in the stunt.
WARNING: VIDEO CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT
Sifiso Lungelo Thabete’s attempt to entertain the crowd as he entered the arena went horribly wrong when he didn’t rotate far enough and landed on his head, breaking his neck.
The incident was caught on camera and footage showed several people coming to his aid after the initial shock of what happened left the audience stunned.
Thabete — who hailed from Umlazi in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa — had been playing to the crowd before a contest on the weekend. He walked out slowly towards the center of the gymnasium before breaking into a trot and waving his arms, encouraging spectators to cheer him on.
He ran into the centre of the mat and launched into the backflip before hitting his head. Thabete lay motionless on his side before rolling onto his back.
The first man to attend to him lifted his legs up before several others joined in to help. Vision of the accident (which can be seen in the video player above) went viral on the internet before the severity of the damage was made public.
South African bodybuilding magazine Muscle Evolution said the bodybuilding community was “shocked and saddened” by the news of Thabete’s death.The magazine reports he was an International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness (IFBB) Junior World Champion in the up-to 75kg category who recently won an event at the IFBB Muscle Mulisha Grand Prix in July.
Thabete came first in the Under-23, over 165 pounds (75kg) division of the competition held in Johannesburg, where he successfully performed a backflip during his routine. You can see him compete from the 8:20 mark in the video below.
Thabete also finished runner-up in the division for senior men up to and including 176 pounds (80kg). Friend Martin Cooper paid tribute to his mate on Facebook.
Thabete’s social media profiles are full of pictures of him competing, training and posing with awards.
Clearly dedicated to being the best bodybuilder he could be, Thabete often shared motivational messages on Facebook alongside images and videos of himself.
In May Thabete shared a magazine article written about him on his Facebook page saying “wow god is good”.
His tragic death comes a week after IFBB Province official and former bodybuilder Michelle O’Shea died in a car accident.