Boxer collapses during tournament, later dies

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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A local boxer’s friends and family say he passed away Monday, after collapsing during a match Saturday night.

Steven Copeland, 28, competed in the Golden Gloves tournament at the Hampton Roads Convention Center in Hampton over the weekend. According to his trainer, Roger Blech, Copeland won his match Friday night and the two laughed and joked before his Saturday match against a boxer with less experience.

“Looked like he was going to win this one,” Belch said. “If he was taking punishment, I would’ve stopped the fight.”

Belch described what happened as the match progressed: Copeland took a knee and signaled he needed to stop. He got up and walked unsteadily over to Belch in his corner, where he began vomiting and laid down.

Belch said doctors stepped in right away, and first responders rushed Copeland to a local hospital. Doctors performed surgery to relieve swelling on Copeland’s brain that night, but he did not come out of a coma, according to his aunt, Patricia Hannas.

Family members told WAVY News Copeland passed away Monday night. They said he was an organ donor and his passing would help others who are fighting for life.

Photo Courtesy: WAVY.com
Photo Courtesy: WAVY.com

Belch said Copeland would have no regrets. “I believe that Steven was where he wanted to be, if something happened to him. In that ring, that’s his home.”

In the waiting room at the hospital, at least 25 people stood together, waiting to see Copeland before he drew his last breath. That support extended through the tournament, where Belch said everything stopped when he walked in the next day.

“They all started praying for that young man, and it brought me to my knees, seeing how much people cared,” Blech said.

Hannas said the family’s concern extends to the man who was fighting Copeland when he went down.

“It is a dangerous sport, but it’s also a sport that people do because they love it and they are passionate,” she said. “We have support for the person he was boxing and just have sympathy for him, as well, that we hope he’s okay, as well.”

Copeland’s friends and family set up two online funds to help with his medical expenses:

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