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Undefeated with an 8-0 record, Ardi Ndembo was so dominant that 7 of those victories were via KO. But in a shocking turn of events, the heavyweight boxer sustained heavy injuries while competing in Miami, Florida. On April 5, 2024, he fought against Nestor Santana for Team Combat League but lost via a first-round KO. However, after the loss, he lay on the canvas motionless for over 10 minutes.

Fight.TV reported that the heavyweight boxer was then carried off the arena on a stretcher. Post this, he was put into a medically induced coma. The prognosis didn’t provide a glimmer of hope and raised concerns for fans and family members alike. As per the information available, the boxer has two children.

Further, IFL TV shared the disheartening news on their Instagram handle. They wrote in the caption, “Congolese heavyweight Ardi Ndembo is currently fighting for his life having been placed in a medically induced coma following a first-round knockout defeat to Nestor Santana in Team Combat League last week. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ardi and his family & friends.”

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His current state is shocking for combat fans. A GoFundMe page was started for him. It stated that “Team Combat League will match total third-party donations up to a maximum of $25,000 to assist the Ndembo children.”

 

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Notably, Ndembo, 27, has a story similar to Francis Ngannou, as he found refuge in boxing and crossed the African continent in hopes of making it big in the boxing world. He has been on an upward trajectory since making his professional debut in 2019. He started boxing at 14 when some kids bullied him in school.

His case also reminds us of Luis Palmer. He was making his name as a notorious boxer, but sustaining a hard KO in the fifth round during a fight in Glasgow in April 2022, cut his career short. He was in a medically induced coma for the next five days. “I came close to losing my life,” he said about his experience. He has no recollection of the incident.

Palmer’s career ended after four fights. “Everyday life since then has been difficult. It’s difficult to know my fighting journey has come to an end,” said the boxer, who is a father of three children. Like him, his friend and stablemate, Scott Westgarth, also sustained deadly injuries in 2020. After a long and hard fight against Dec Spelman, Westgarth, was victorious. However, when he fell unwell, he was rushed to the hospital. Unfortunately, he passed away due to complications from a blood clot.

But coming back to Ardi Ndembo, he was inspired by some of the biggest boxers. What is his story?

Ardi Ndembo looked up to Muhammad Ali!

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As a young boy, he grew up on stories about the Rumble in the Jungle bout. He looked up to legendary boxers like Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, and Evander Holyfield. Ndembo moved to Cape Town to polish his boxing skills and was enrolled in the Future Champs’ athlete development program. The Brazzaville native also fought over 100 amateur fights and collected two bronze medals in All Africa games, which showcased his caliber as a boxer and bolstered his confidence to venture into pro boxing.

Ndembo was signed with Global Boxing Stars and managed by Jeremy Bean, which ensured him international exposure. And he didn’t disappoint. But his achievements don’t stop there. He knew what it was like coming from a humble background and, hence, he supported charitable endeavors. He collaborated with ‘Future Champs’ and successfully launched community gym-building programs. This was aimed to aid disadvantaged communities and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa.

As a result of the promising athlete’s current health condition, Johnny Fisher, a heavyweight boxer from the UK, also turned to the comments and dropped a heartfelt message for the boxer. He had sparred with Ndembo in his last training camp, as he prepared for his fight against Dmytro Bezus. Calling him “gentlemen” and “warrior,” he replied, “I body sparred Ardi in Vegas before my last fight, a true warrior and gentleman, I wish him well.”

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There has been no update on Ndembo’s health as of now. But we extended our sincere wishes to Ndembo and his close ones in these trying times.

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Written by

Rohit Lohan

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Rohit Lohan is a senior Boxing analyst and writer for EssentiallySports. With over 1000 articles to his credit, Rohit’s expertise has extended beyond mere reporting, with a keen focus on statistical analysis and accurate fight predictions that have garnered significant praise. Noteworthy coverages include Amanda Serrano's bold act of vacating her title in defiance of the WBC, and the creation of a highlight digest encapsulating the best fights of 2023.
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Edited by

Arijit Saha