Sport24 columnist Graeme Joffe (File)
I awoke out of a deep sleep at about 04:00 on Sunday morning and looked at Twitter to see who was leading the PGA Tour's Tour Championship, but was sidetracked by a tweet regarding a very good friend and one of our boxing greats.PODCAST: An emotional Kallie Knoetze talks about Corrie SandersGALLERY: Celebrating Corrie Sanders in pictures“Our friend, the legendary CORRIE SANDERS is fighting for his life after being shot in an armed robbery! PLEASE PRAY!”
I felt helpless, who do I call at 04:00 to find out what’s happening?
More tweets followed and an hour later, the worst was confirmed.
Kurt Darren tweeted: “Ek is hartseer, my golf partner en n baie goeie man met n reuse hart, Corrie Sanders, is Hemel toe vanoggend. Rus in vrede Corra.”
I put down the phone and cried like a little boy. My heart was broken. Another senseless murder in South Africa. Corrie had been through so much, life had thrown him a number of curve balls but he was slowly getting back on his feet.
At 46, he still had so much to give.
I chatted to Corrie on the phone a few weeks ago. We talked about the state of the country, golf, rugby and he gave me a remedy for my gout. We laughed like the old times but both of us were disillusioned about what was happening in South Africa. Now, one of our sporting heroes is just another statistic of a cowardly act in our barbaric society.
So many fond memories (most of them on the golf course), of this gentle giant with a like sized heart.
A single figure handicap who could hit the little white ball as hard as he hit his opponents in the ring. He loved his golf but not the snap hook off the tee. So many charities benefitted from his presence and even at 6-foot-4, he made everyone feel taller.
For years, we had a regular midweek monthly golf game with Corrie. We shared so much laughter until one day we were caught off guard when Corrie received a summons on the golf course. I couldn’t believe a clerk of the court would go this far, let alone know which nine we were on.
Hope he paid for the golf cart!
But Corrie took it in his stride, he trusted everyone, which was probably one of his only downfalls in life.
The summons led to more laughter but at my expense.
Having never been on a golf course, where someone was issued with a summons, I suggested to Jeremy Mansfield and Darren Simpson that he set up something similar again with Corrie as a prank for their MNet TV programme, “Laugh out Loud”.
What I didn’t anticipate was that Darren would secretly meet with Corrie the night before the prank and would turn it around, that I become the target.
So, we arrived at Royal JHB for the monthly game and I made as though nothing was unusual. I chatted to the TV producer and cameramen as if they were other golfers and the plan was to make it all happen on the 17th tee box.
By the 15th, the game was over, Corrie was on the losing end and I was a little nervous to go through with the prank in case it would add insult to injury. But Corrie knew otherwise and I had no idea that he knew about the prank.
Needless to say, we got to the 17th tee, Darren was dressed up as a clerk of the court and making as though he had never met Corrie, he issued him with a summons. Corrie “lost it” and went after Darren as both went tumbling to the ground. I was now mumbling, it had gone all wrong. Darren got up with blood all over his face (I hadn’t seen him put on the fake blood) and I was now at loss for words. Darren told Corrie it was “ my idea” and Corrie came after me. It felt like 20 minutes but it was probably only 30 seconds that Corrie had me in a head lock. The caddies had run for the hills, scared of what was about to happen and our playing partners were pleading with Corrie not to hurt me.
Only after some heavy breathing, did I get the sucker from Darren to say: “You’ve been pranked on Laugh out Loud”!
It was one of the scariest days of my life and I will never forget how strong Corrie was. Even one of his little tickle in the ribs left you with a bruise for weeks.
Who will ever forget March 2003, our boy Corrie beating Wladimir Klitschko in the second round in Germany to become the WBO heavyweight champion.
South Africa had a new heavyweight champion, we had tears of joy.
I remember him telling me how his final fight, the first round defeat to Osborne Machimana hurt more than any others, as he was booed out of the ring by those that had supported him for all those years. Boxing is tough in and out the ring but Corrie never held a grudge. He was grateful for what he was given and for what he achieved and boy did he achieve.
Nicknamed 'The Sniper', Corrie had 46 professional fights, winning 31 by knockout and only losing four times. He was one of our boxing greats.
I have some anger inside of me as to why “Corra” is no longer with us and maybe his life could have been spared. They wouldn’t treat him at a private hospital in Brits on the night of the murder because he didn’t have medical aid and a hospital in Pretoria also refused to admit him because he was shot outside of Tshwane. Those one or two hours could have been crucial. Surely, when it’s a matter of life and death, it’s the closest hospital?
There is still a numbing sense of disbelief. I think of Corrie's daughter, 15-year-old Marinique who will remember every day of her life that he died trying to protect her.
The damage is never limited.
Families become silent casualties.
Murder, rape, poverty is destroying SA and it all starts with corrupt officials and we have less than no chance if media don't expose them. Even Carte Blanche has become more like a magazine show. What has happened to hard, investigative journalism?
Corrupt officials are getting away with murder.
Corra, you made us all “laugh out loud” when you pranked me, now you’ve got us all “crying out loud”.
RIP boxing legend!
Email Graeme at: email@example.com
Catch Graeme Joffe on SportsFire every Monday and Thursday at 17:30 on Radio Today, 1485am in JHB, National on DStv audio channel 169 and streaming worldwide on www.1485.org.za. Follow Graeme Joffe on Twitter: @joffersmyboy