A fundraiser to support the family of boxer Dwight Ritchie has raised over $20,000, following the Indigenous boxer’s shock death during a training session on Saturday.
The Daily Telegraph has reported Ritchie collapsed after taking a blow to his body during a sparring session in Melbourne with boxer Michael Zerafa.
Ritchie, a proud Yorta-Yorta man hailing from Shepparton in Victoria's north, previously held the title of Australian Middleweight champion and only lost two bouts in a 21-fight career.
Ranked as high as World Number 9, his last bout was against Super Middleweight Champion Tim Tszyu and he was slated to return to the ring on December 6.
Ritchie's promoter Jake Ellis set up a GoFundMe page after the news of his death to help support Ritchie's three children.
As of publication, over $20,000 of the $50,000 goal has been pledged by boxing fans and supporters.
Boxing Commentator Paul Upham says the outpouring of support shows how well regarded Ritchie was.
"It's a tight-knit community, Australian Boxing, and they look after each as much as they are rivals," Upham told NITV News.
"That's something special. You meet these people and they care about their brothers and sisters in the sport."
"Being a Blackfella means everything to me"
Dwight Ritchie was born a fighter, overcoming cancer twice before the age of two.
Writing in Athlete's Voice in August, Ritchie credits the sport for keeping him out of the prison system and also speaks of the importance of his mob in putting him on the right track.
"Being a blackfella means everything to me,” he wrote.
“I love my culture and my people. They gave me a sense of purpose and a sense of identity [and that] also helped steer me away from the wrong path.
“When I got in touch with my culture and community, it helped me so much.
“One of the best things about being a blackfella is family is always family.”
Highly regarded as one of Australian boxing’s brightest young prospects, his sudden death sent the community into mourning.
"He had some really good years of boxing ahead of him, he could have gone on to achieve something and that's sad in so many ways," Upham said.
"But to lose him as a family man, and a father and a son, it's obviously so hard for the family.
"Dwight had a good reputation as a hard worker. He always came prepared, worked really hard in the gym, came to fight, always ready to fight."
Boxing legends Anthony Mundine and Jeff Fenech, along with Tszyu and Fijian-Indigenous boxer Renold Quinlan paid tribute to the 27-year-old on social media.
"So sad to hear the news of a freakish accident in sparring and to see this young man's life be taken," Mundine wrote.
"Condolences to the Ritchie family, my heart is with you guys."