Middleweight Sherif Lawal, who trained out of St Pancras BC, lost his life following his debut at Harrow Leisure Centre last night (May 12). 

In the opening bout of a four-fight card promoted by Costakis Evangelou, 29-year-old Lawal took on Malam Varela in a bout scheduled for six rounds. In the fourth round, a right hand from Varela landed on the temple of Lawal, who then dropped to the canvas. Referee Lee Every began his count but recognized that Lawal was in distress and immediately halted the bout.

According to a BoxingScene source at ringside, the contest had been evenly fought until the end of the third round when Lawal was stunned by “a right hand over the jab that landed seconds before the bell sounded.

“They both exchanged on the bell and the referee, Lee Every, pulled them apart. Lawal then came out with a high guard to start the fourth, he looked fine. He took the right hand to the temple and his back was to the ropes, he span round and then fell on his haunches.”

Lawal’s trainer, CJ Hussein, tended to his stricken boxer as the British Boxing Board of Control’s ringside doctors and paramedics administered CPR for “10-15 minutes” before a defibrillator was employed for several minutes in the ring. Lawal was taken to the nearby Northwick Park hospital where he was pronounced dead with the cause of death a cardiac arrest. 

The remainder of the card was cancelled.

Robert Smith, General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, told BoxingScene: “It’s a tragic incident and we’re all in shock. We’re now in the process of gathering all the reports from the officials, doctors and paramedics to attempt to ascertain exactly what happened. 

“His boxing medicals were all in order and we have a report from his GP stating he was fit and well. It’s an awful, tragic thing to happen.”

Sherif, of Islington, had been boxing since 2018 and last year he competed in the National Elite Championships before turning professional earlier this year. At the time Hussein described Lawal “as a real inspiration to all the younger boxers in the gym” when talking to the Camden New Journal.

Promoter Evangelou told The Sun: “This was a tragic incident and my profound sympathies go out to Sherif’s family. It’s a difficult time for everyone to be involved in the boxing fraternity and we’re trying to absorb what happened. No one wants to see something like this in any sport.

“Sherif was a great boxer and man.”

Hussein has closed St Pancras BC for the following week out of respect.