Farewell to many legends: Sports deaths of 2023

2023 began with the funeral of Brazilian soccer legend Pele, who died on December 29, 2022.

A number of famous figures from football were buried this year, such as Bobby Charlton and Anderle Molderer in skiing.

Tragic accidents in 2023 claimed very young victims, such as Swiss professional cyclist Gino Mader (26), who had a fatal crash at the Tour de Suisse.

Grief in cycling and ice hockey

Cycling kills more people. A junior cycling tour in Upper Austria ended in tragedy: a 17-year-old Italian fell on the descent and died of his injuries. Belgian talent Tijl De Decker died in a training accident.

Austrian rowing also had a shock start to the year; Christoph Seifriedsberger (26) died of his injuries in a traffic accident during cycling training in Italy.

Ice hockey professional Adam Johnson died in a freak accident during a game in England; A 29-year-old American was seriously injured in the neck by the blade of an ice skate. Mike Hammond (33), the leading striker of the British national ice hockey team, died in a traffic accident on Vancouver Island.

Many football legends have left us

Former Manchester United icon and world champion Bobby Charlton, 86, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2020, remains unforgettable in football circles. Italy's Gianluca Willi (58) died of cancer, while former Cameroon player Modest Mbami died of a heart attack aged 40.

France mourns Just Fontaine (89). Spanish football legend and 1960 Ballon d'Or winner Luis Suarez has died aged 88 in Milan. Former England captain Terry Venables turns 80.

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In Austria, former teammate Hans “Buffy” Edmeier (76) will be remembered by many, former Bundesliga president Gerhard Schoff (82) or lawyer and sports manager Skander Fani (83).

Former Rapid striker Leopold Kraussum, 80, and ex-Bundesliga player Thomas Wagner, 46. Former Right Legionnaire Ahimeng Diausi, 25, died of sudden cardiac death while in the service of German third-division club Regensburg.

Ski icons say goodbye

Skiing legends Andreas “Anderl” Mölderer (92), Heinrich “Heini” Messner (84), Waldrot “Traudel” Hecher (80), Rosie Mittermeyer (72) and Elena Fanzini (37) were the finalists.

The world of athletics lost high jump Olympic champion Dick Fosbury (76), three-time world hurdles champion Greg Foster (64), long jump Olympic champion Ralph Boston (83) and former sprint world champion Tory Bowie. 32 people died in childbirth.

Former world-class pole vaulter Tim Lobinger (50) succumbs to cancer. Austria's ex-celebrity Caroline Gaffer has turned 68.

With Norbert Sadler (71), the local canoe sport has lost a former Olympic and World Cup medallist. The founder of Austria's biggest tennis tournament in the Vienna Stadtal is also no longer alive – Leo-Günther Humer is 87 years old.

Kickboxing World Champion Killed in Ukraine War

Spain has mourned its first Tour de France winner Federico Bahamontes, the “Eagle of Toledo”, who has died aged 95.

In American sports, legends Bobby Hull (84) passed away in the NHL, Willis Reed (80) in the NBA, and Jim Brown (87) and Ryan Mallett (35) in the NFL. Former quarterback drowns in Florida's Destin Beach German former European boxing champion Rene Weller is 69 years old.

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World Cup rally driver Craig Breen (33) died during a test drive during his training for the sport in Croatia. Dean Holland, a well-known and successful jockey in Australia, fell from his horse during a horse race and could not be saved.

Residents of the western Ukrainian city of Ivano-Frankivsk bid farewell to four-time kickboxing world champion Vitaly Merino. A 32-year-old husband and father was critically injured in the fighting against Russian troops in Luhansk, eastern Ukraine region.


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