Former WBC world light flyweight champion Yo Sam Choi died around midnight Wednesday after doctors removed the life-support ventilator that had kept him breathing since Christmas day when he underwent brain surgery after falling into a coma at the end of a WBO Intercontinental flyweight title fight which he won handily.
The decision to take Choi off the ventilator was made after he was declared “brain dead” by a neurosurgeon led nine-member panel that conducted two examinations of the fighter earlier Wednesday.
Yonhap News Agency reported that a spokesman for Asan Medical Center in Seoul announced “surgeons will take him off the system right after stopping his heart from functioning at about midnight.”
Hospital officials said Yo Sam Choi’s family had agreed to donate his organs in the hope that they can save other lives. The boxer’s heart, kidneys, liver and corneas were transplanted to patients on the list of the Koren Network for Organ Sharing.
Choi won the WBC world light flyweight title from Thailand’s Saman Sorjaturong in October 1999 and defended it four times. He lost the title to Mexican ring warrior Jorge Arce in July 2002.
Choi was the reigning WBO Intercontinental flyweight champion and battled Indonesia’s Heri Amol in an action-packed bout last December 25. Choi was knocked down with some five seconds remaining in the final round. He recovered to hear the unanimous points decision in his favor and then fell unconscious. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he underwent brain surgery but never recovered after he lapsed into a coma.
In a revealing insight into his thoughts which were scribbled in a diary, journalist Sam Kim quoted Choi as noting ”not much time is left. Will I be a loser again? I cant concentrate. I just want to end it all.” And in a final entry before facing Amol, the Korean champion said he would throw in his reserves to retain the championship so he may one day realize his dream of “a simple life.”
“One step back, then I die. This is a match on the brink,” he wrote.