In sad news, it has been reported that South Africa’s Gerrie Coetzee, the former WBA heavyweight champion, has passed away at age 67. Website The South African reported the sad news. Gerrie died after a long battle with cancer. Our condolences go out to Gerrie’s family and friends at this time.

Coetzee fans have been hit hard by the news. There was a movie about his life in production, which will hopefully still be completed and released.

News reported that Coetzee would soon get the silver screen treatment. The film of his life had been shot in South Africa last year. The film was then set to be completed in the USA, first in Washington DC and then again in Ohio. It was in Ohio, at The Richmond Coliseum, that Coetzee won a world title at the third time of asking; beating Michael Dokes in what was Ring Magazine’s Upset of the Year. The movie, which had a working title of “Against All Odds,” will largely focus on Coetzee becoming heavyweight champ. Although he ruled for a short time, Coetzee’s feat was remarkable.

Coetzee suffered from bad hands – his famous “Bionic Right” having several metal pins put in it during his career – and he also had to battle Apartheid problems.

Coetzee was a fascinating person who went pro in September 1974. He defeated names such as Kallie Knoetze and Scott LeDoux. After having been defeated by Mike Weaver and John Tate in previous title challenges, Coetzee won the big win over Dokes. Today, Coetzee, who stopped an exhausted Dokes in the tenth round, says he was “unbeatable that night.”

“I was at my very best for Dokes. No one would have beaten me on that night,” Gerrie said at the press conference to promote the film on his life, the presser attended by Muhammad Ali’s former wife Dr. Khalilah Camacho Ali. “I had overtrained for Tate and Weaver.”

Coetzee lost the WBA title in his first defence, this when he was controversially stopped by Greg Page – the fateful eighth round overrunning, Coetzee stopped at a time when he should have been sat on his stool – and he never again challenged for a major title.

Oddly enough, Iran Barkley stopped Coetzee, a 42 year-old, in his last fight. It took place in June 1997. Barkley had moved up from heavyweight to the heavyweight division and won what is known as the World Boxing Board title.

Coetzee’s story is, of course, more than worthy of being told, of being remembered, and hopefully, the film will still come out. Gerrie made boxing history, he fought among the best, and he will always be missed.

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