A three-time world champion kickboxer died at his home in Belgium from complications caused by COVID-19 weeks after discharging himself from the hospital.
Fred Sinistra, 40, was unvaccinated and would not even use the term COVID-19, his coach Osman Yigin told Belgian outlet SudInfo. Instead, he dismissed COVID-19 as “a little virus” and railed against government restrictions.
But after the kickboxer contracted COVID-19, Yigin said he told Sinistra that if he did not admit himself to hospital, he would no longer train the former world champion.
Sinistra did go to the hospital, and posted several pictures of himself on Facebook and Instagram inside an intensive care ward in Liège.
But in a video posted on Facebook on Nov. 24, Sinistra is clearly struggling to catch his breath as he railed against the pandemic, dismissed COVID-19, and claimed that a “little virus” was not going to stop him.
“I have no time to waste with lazy people,” Sinistra wrote in an accompanying caption.
On November 26, Sinistra said he was “disgusted” that a planned fight on December 4 had been canceled.
“A warrior never abdicates, I will come back even stronger,” Sinistra wrote.
Days later, he discharged himself from the hospital and returned home where he reportedly treated himself with oxygen.
On December 13, Sinistra replied to comments on his Facebook page, writing: “Thank you all for your support. I'm home recovering, as I should. I will come back a thousand times stronger.
Three days later Sinistra’s death was announced by his partner on his Facebook page.
Sinistra, who is survived by his partner and two children, is the latest in a long line of anti-vaccine and COVID skeptics who have died as a result of complications caused by COVID-19.
Like many COVID skeptics around the globe, Sinistra believed that his relatively young age, and physical condition, would be protection enough against any COVID-19 symptoms.
In several Facebook posts, Sinistra repeatedly refers to the virus in French as “la grippe des cheveux” or hair flu, while slamming the measures introduced such as vaccine passes and mask mandates.
The variant is spreading across Europe with “lightning speed,” French Prime Minister Jean Castex said this weekend. The number of new cases on the continent has doubled every two to three days due to a surge of the Delta variant and Omicron. Governments across Europe have already begun reimposing strict lockdown measures.
In Belgium, where almost 90% of the adult population has had two doses of the vaccine, the reimposition of lockdown restrictions has in recent weeks led to protest marches that have, at times, descended into violence.
Thousands of protesters marched in the streets of Brussels again on Sunday, though this time the march was largely peaceful.
On November 29, Sinistra posted a picture of himself in the intensive care ward, and told his followers: “I was born premature and I will continue to fight to the death like a man without ever giving up and dying without regrets.”