Ardi Ndembo, a 27-year-old heavyweight boxer from Congo, tragically lost his life after being knocked out in just 57 seconds during a bout in Coral Gables, Florida. Known for his dedication and love for his two children, Ndembo’s sudden death has raised significant questions about the preventability of such incidents in the sport of boxing.

In early April, Ndembo fought under the banner of Team Combat League (TCL), a fledgling organization based in White Plains, New York. Despite recent concussions during sparring sessions in Las Vegas, he proceeded with the match. According to multiple sources, Ndembo had been knocked unconscious twice in the month leading up to the bout—incidents that his coach, Rodney Crisler, vehemently warned against. “I begged him not to fight,” Crisler recalled. “It’s dangerous. You need an MRI.”

Team Combat League promotes a unique format of 24 one-round fights, with fighters from various cities competing against each other. Despite its innovative approach, concerns about safety protocols have been brought to the forefront following Ndembo’s death. An investigation by the Florida State Athletic Commission (FSAC) could have provided crucial insights, but the commission has refused to conduct one. “We’re not investigating the case,” said FSAC Executive Director Tim Shipman, adding, “There’s nothing we’re going to change.”

The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) urged a thorough investigation into the circumstances of Ndembo’s death, highlighting the preventability of the tragedy if proper protocols had been followed. Despite this, no substantial action has been taken by the FSAC.

Ndembo’s professional record, as listed on, includes eight victories, seven of which were knockouts. He moved to the United States in 2023 after fighting in Africa and Mexico. His career, however, came to an abrupt and tragic end in Florida.

Critics argue that the system failed Ndembo on multiple levels. From the lack of mandatory medical checks post-knockout to the insufficient oversight by state athletic commissions, many believe that more stringent regulations and better communication could have prevented this tragedy. Dr. Margaret Goodman, a prominent advocate for fighter safety, emphasized, “The risk of serious injury from a second concussion is much greater. This was third impact. Better screening by state athletic commissions is essential.”

Promoters and managers also bear responsibility. Michael Utilla, an attorney handling much of TCL’s operational work, did not respond to requests for comment, raising further questions about the league’s practices.

Looking ahead, industry insiders like Bruce Silverglade, owner of Gleason’s Gym in New York, advocate for mandatory reporting of gym knockouts to state athletic commissions. California, for instance, requires such reports, though compliance is reportedly low.

The broader boxing community must confront the culture of silence surrounding gym injuries. Promoter Lou DiBella condemned the FSAC’s inaction, calling it “an abomination.” The death of Ardi Ndembo serves as a somber reminder of the urgent need for reform in boxing safety standards. It is crucial for all stakeholders to prioritize the health and safety of fighters to prevent future tragedies.

In memory of Ardi Ndembo, efforts continue to support his family, including a GoFundMe page set up by TCL to aid his children. However, beyond financial support, significant changes in boxing regulation and oversight are needed to honor his legacy and protect other athletes.