Boxer, 26, who died after KO ‘defied mother’s pleas’

The sister of an Armenian-Russian boxer who died after spending ten days in a coma following a knockout has revealed that his mother urged him to quit the sport – and his opponent has paid tribute to him

Tragic boxer Arrest Sahakyan, who has died in hospital from brain trauma he sustained in a knockout defeat, suffered a similar head injury a year ago which left his mother begging him to quit, his grieving sister has said.

The 26-year-old, who won six of his nine senior fights including the WBC Asian Boxing Council Silver Middle title in Thailand, was knocked out by Igor Semernin in the last of his five bouts in Russia on December 26.

Sahakyan spent 10 days in hospital while doctors carried out what was described by a report as a 'complicated operation' on a hematoma and cerebral swelling caused by excess fluid. 

According to his sister, Sahakyan was previously told by his mother to hang up his gloves after suffering a hematoma to his head in a fight almost exactly a year earlier.

"Mom went to his ward," Svetlana Petrosyan told REN TV of Sahakyan's hospitalization before his death.

"It was at this moment that he started shaking his arms and legs [and] his head. He was quickly transferred to another intensive care unit. Mom came out and, apparently, thought that he was coming to his senses."

His mother's fears ultimately materialized about a fighter who was prescribed pills and halted his training after his previous scare, then began to work as a coach before getting back in the ring against his family's wishes.

Petrosyan said Sahakyan's mother "had a bad feeling" before he resumed his boxing career.

"She told him that his eyes were dull and she didn’t like [it]," recalled Petrosyan. "She persuaded him all year to go to work as a coach with children. But he was sick and lived for boxing, so he refused."

Petrosyan explained that her brother dropped 14kg for his last outing and suggested that the dramatic weight loss may have impacted his health.

"He came out weak for the fight," she claimed. "If you look at his other fights, it's like two different people."

The family also believes the judges should have stepped in and stopped Sahakyan's final fight from going ahead once they had seen his condition.

Tournament organizers are said to have helped Sahakyan's relatives transport his body to Armenia for his burial.

In the Russian city of Togliatti, where Sahakyan's funeral will be held on January 11, city authorities reportedly intend to ask the prosecutor's office to investigate the tournament.

The Russian Boxing Federation is also said to have requested a check on the quality of work performed by medical staff and organizers. 

"The competitions were not co-ordinated with either the administration or our sports committee," the head of the city, Nikolai Renz, was quoted as saying by TASS.

"We do not know how they were held, what the conditions were [or] how everything was organized... we should not have such competitions outside of the existing institutes of physical culture and sports organizations."

On the day of his opponent's death, opponent Semernin said: "I want to express my condolences to the relatives and friends of Arrest.

"We all mourn and share your pain. Rest in peace [in the] kingdom of heaven."

Petrosyan wrote on Instagram: "How to continue to live? Our soul, our joy.

"My heart is torn to pieces. I don't believe [it]… it's like a bad dream.

"We loved you very much, our dear. You were the kindest, most cheerful, wonderful, sincere person."

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