On June 12, 1968, everything is at stake for Jupp Elze. The Cologne boxer, German champion, gets into the ring against the Italian Juan Carlos Duran. It is the decisive fight for the European Championship. For Elze, this evening is not just about the title. He fights for his professional future, his financial existence. Little does he know that he is also fighting for his life.
The middleweight fight goes over 15 rounds. The 28-year-old Elze had lost his first EM fight - it is questionable whether he would have such an opportunity again. And against Duran it actually looks good for the boxer from Cologne-Kalk for a long time. But in the last round, exactly 157 seconds before the end of the fight, an opponent's hook hits him in the back of the head. Elze falls to the ground, gets up again in a daze, indicating that he is giving up. Then he collapses unconscious.
The boxer falls into a coma from which he never wakes up. Only 25 minutes after the fight he is already on the operating table, the doctors are chiseling his skullcap. But even the emergency operation can no longer save Elze's life. During the tough fight, which clearly marked both boxers, he received well over a hundred head shots. These must have caused a cerebral hemorrhage. On June 20, 1968, Jupp Elze died at the age of 28 without waking up again.
Elze was a successful boxer, losing only six fights in his professional career. In Germany he was considered the legitimate successor to boxing legend Peter Müller, whom he knocked out in his last fight. struck. But the trained metal worker also had to contend with serious personal problems: he was plagued by debts and despite his successes he was on the verge of ruin. For his dream in the ring, Elze even canceled his life insurance.
But not only in financial terms did the athlete make sacrifices. After his death, the autopsy of the body revealed that he had taken three different doping substances before the fight - including methamphetamine, which was known at the time as pervitin and is said to reduce the sensation of pain. Without these funds, Elze would have had to end the fight earlier. Since then, the man from Cologne has been considered the first doping fatality in history. His ambition, his unconditional will to win with the help of all means become his fatal doom, and his management may have put him under pressure.
Only after Elze's death are doping controls introduced in boxing, the fights only last a maximum of twelve rounds instead of 15, and the prescribed padding of the gloves is increased to protect the athletes. For Jupp Elze, however, these changes come too late.
Sources: "Spiegel" / "Kölner Stadtanzeiger" / WDR