A disturbing video of the incident shows Sifiso Lungelo Thabete, 23, hyping up a crowd as he walks onto the mat at a competition. He attempted a backflip but didn’t fully rotate, and he landed on his head. The crowd, as heard in the video, wasn’t sure what to make of what happened as the bodybuilder lay on the mat, motionless.
A moment later, people rushed to his aid as it became apparent something was wrong. It was later discovered that Thabete had broken his neck after awkwardly landing on his head.
Body Building South Africa chief Wayne Price told South Africa’s News24 that the backflip was Thabathe’s “signature” move.
“We suspect, because he was wearing socks this time, that he slipped or didn’t get enough momentum and landed horribly on his head,” Price said, according to The Washington Post.
Muscle Evolution, a South African bodybuilding magazine, said the bodybuilding community was shocked and saddened by the news of Thabete’s death.
According to the magazine, Thabete was an International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness junior world champion in the up-to-165-pound category who had recently won an event at the IFBB Muscle Mulisha Grand Prix in July.