Retired Argentinian boxer Mario Melo died on Sunday, Nov. 4 during a croissant eating contest after one of the crescent-shaped pastries lodged in his throat.
The 56-year-old Melo was taking part in a contest in Argentina to see who could eat the most medialuna (Argentine croissants) in one minute, according to World Boxing News, when he began to choke.
The former pro boxer was reportedly on his third croissant when he showed signs of distress and then collapsed.
A firefighter and doctor in the crowd unsuccessfully tried to dislodge the croissant from Melo’s throat before paramedics arrived and undertook efforts to save his life.
A video was taken of the incident from the crowd and later broadcast on Argentine news, according to the report. It shows several people appearing to perform the Heimlich maneuver.
Attempts were to no avail as Melo succumbed to the fact his windpipe was completely blocked.
A woman identified as Melo’s sister told reporters her brother was rushed to Pinamar Hospital, but soon after was pronounced dead.
He was reportedly a diabetic.
Melo fought U.S. boxer Michael Moorer for the WBA light-heavyweight world title in 1990. The South American heavyweight champion was knocked out in the first round. Melo retired in 1998 with a 21-9 record.
Seventeen of his 21 victories during his career came from knockouts.
His nickname was Mazazo, which in English translates as “Heavy Blow.”
Risky Eating Competitions
While eating competitions are popular around the world, there are risks.
A 20-year-old college student last year choked to death during a pancake-eating contest.
Caitlin Nelson died while taking part in the contest that was held on the Connecticut campus of Sacred Heart University and sanctioned by the school. Funds raised through the contest were meant for charity.
Nelson’s mother, Rosanne Nelson, filed a lawsuit against the school on Oct. 29, claiming the university was at fault for letting the contest happen.
In addition to seeking damages, the suit intends to expose the danger of amateur eating contests, Nelson’s lawyer Katie Mesner-Hage told the Hartford Courant.
“These contests are significantly more dangerous than people realize and it’s critically important for the public—especially educational institutions—to understand that certain foods are safer than others and a modicum of forethought can literally save lives,” she said, recommending softer foods like ice cream for contests.