Tributes have been paid to a “talented” 17-year-old amateur boxer who died after collapsing in the ring.
The fighter, named locally as Eddie Bilbey, collapsed as his arm was being held by the referee at the end of a championship bout on Friday night, an eye-witness said.
The teenager, who comes from a boxing family, had just lost out to Tyler Rivers in the East Midlands Welterweight Youth contest at Post Mill Centre, South Normanton, Derbsyhire.
Rivers’ coach Craig Perkins said Eddie had come across the canvas to shake hands with his opponent’s corner staff and seemed fine, only to collapse onto the ropes moments later.
He said: “Eddie came over and shook both coaches’ hands, and when the referee went to raise our lad’s hand, Eddie just stumbled forward.”
Mr Perkins, from Earl Shilton Amateur Boxing Club in Leicester, said he had been left shocked and devastated.
He said: “It is just a shocking, shocking incident. I have been in boxing 35 years and never seen anyone die.”
Paying tribute to “fit as a fiddle” Eddie, from Ripley, Derbyshire, Mr Perkins said: “He was a talented boxer, a good boxer.
“He trains and is a championship-level fighter. Why this has happened I don’t know. He is a conditioned sportsman.”
The 45-year-old said both fighters had undergone a pre-fight medical and had been wearing all the correct safety gear, including head-guards.
The pair had duelled for three rounds lasting three minutes each, as is regulated by the boxing authorities.
Mr Perkins said: “It was a good competitive bout. Eddie didn’t take any big hits.”
The boxers had fought each other before and were friends on social media, he added.
Mr Perkins described how Rivers’ mother, who is a nurse, immediately joined efforts to resuscitate the youngster at ringside before paramedics arrived.
From there, he was taken by ambulance to nearby King Mill Hospital in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, where he pronounced dead on arrival.
A police investigation is now underway and a post-mortem examination is due to be carried out to establish cause of death.
Officers have appealed for anyone with footage of the bout to contact the investigations team.
A force spokesman said: “At this stage, there don’t appear to be any suspicious circumstances surrounding this death but if you were at the tournament and have any footage of the bout or information that might help, please contact Detective Sergeant Debbie Yoxall on 101, quoting incident number 1162 of March 24.”
The Board of England Boxing said in a statement: “It is with great sadness that the Board of England Boxing, the governing body for boxing in England, can confirm that a boxer died last night following a bout at an England Boxing-sanctioned event in Derby.
“We are extremely saddened by this and would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the person involved in this terrible and shocking incident.
“The Board of England Boxing has set up an investigation to establish the facts of what happened and will provide an update when we know more.
“We are also asking all of the England Boxing coaches, officials and volunteers that were present on the night to co-operate with the police investigation and assist the authorities in any way they can.
“We will be providing support to people that have been affected by this terrible news.”
To contact England Boxing, call 07515 597077 or email [email protected]@englanboxing.org.