THE passing of former European heavyweight champion Sinan Samil Sam on October 30 2015 was not unexpected – rumours had been circulating for a number of days, particularly in the German and the Turkish media, that his health had deteriorated to such an extent that his death was imminent – but it was shocking nonetheless.
At the age of 41, his body ravaged by years of alcohol abuse and in desperate need of a replacement liver, Sam lost his final fight in an Istanbul hospital bed, surrounded by his family. Pictures posted on the internet revealed a grossly overweight figure, hardly recognisable from the fighter of a decade before. It was a tragic end for a man who, while never reaching the pinnacle of the sport, enjoyed a respectable career.
Born in Frankfurt, Germany, to Turkish immigrants, Sam relocated to Ankara at an early age. It was there that he embarked on a trophy-laden amateur career which included nine Turkish championships, a gold medal at the junior World championships in 1992 and silver at the European championships in 1993. After beginning as a middleweight, Sam moved up through the weight classes and signed off as a super-heavyweight with a gold medal at the 1999 World championships in Houston.