South African boxing trainer Colin Nathan has tested positive for Covid-19 in Russia and is spending a mandatory 10-day isolation period in a St Petersburg hospital.
Nathan, owner of the Hotbox-MTK Africa boxing gym in Johannesburg, was conspicuous by his absence in the corner of his charge, Ryno Liebenberg, during Friday night’s WBA Gold super-middleweight title fight at the Sibur Arena in Russia’s second largest city.
Twenty-nine fight veteran Liebenberg, 37, lost a unanimous decision over 12 rounds to home favourite Fedor Chudinov, who was making the third defence of the title he captured in 2019.
With Nathan absent, Liebenberg’s corner was manned by his support crew, Emil Pienaar, Paul Immelman and Neil Shaw.
Liebenberg took to social media on Saturday and announced that he was hanging up his gloves.
Speaking to The Citizen from St Petersburg on Saturday, Nathan confirmed that a third test had returned a positive result.
“An initial test on Wednesday was positive, but I duly requested a second test which came back negative on Thursday morning,” explained Nathan.
“I was unable to go to the official weigh-in for the fight, pending the result of that second test, but being negative, I was under the assumption all was back on track and I would work Ryno’s corner.”
But the Johannesburg trainer was dealt another body blow on Friday when he was alerted by the tournament co-ordinator and the hotel that a third test had come back positive.
The third test was mandatory due to travel regulations which require a negative test result a minimum of 72 hours before traveling.
In line with Russian national health protocols, doctors and paramedics were dispatched to the hotel, he was ushered to an awaiting ambulance and put into precautionary isolation, where he will now spend the next 10 days.
Liebenberg and his support crew all tested negative after the tournament and were due to depart for South Africa on Saturday afternoon.
Nathan said the Russian promoter had been very supportive through his ordeal.
“I was really upset that you couldn’t be in the corner and I understand that it was emotionally difficult for the two of you,” read a short message from Patriot Promotions boss Vlad Hrunov via a representative on Saturday.