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Trinidadian boxing champion Giselle Salandy dies in car crash

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PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad - Trinidadian boxing champion Giselle Salandy died Sunday from injuries sustained in a car crash on the outskirts of the Caribbean country's capital. She was 21.

Salandy died at Port-of-Spain General Hospital on Sunday morning shortly after the dawn crash, according to Information Minister Neil Parsanlal. He said Salandy's car ran off a highway and smashed into a concrete column after she had brought a friend to Piarco International Airport.

Salandy, known for her quick feet and fast jabs, was the title holder for several international female boxing groups, including the Women's International Boxing Association and the World Boxing Council.

Earlier this year, she defended her WBC belt in her last fight against the Dominican Republic's Yahaira Hernandez. That victory took her unblemished professional record in the ring to 17-0.

"The sport fraternity has suffered a tremendous loss and Trinidad and Tobago has lost an icon," Sports Minister Gary Hunt said. "Giselle was a role model for young people, especially females."

Travelling in the car with Salandy was national soccer player Tamer Watson. She was listed in critical condition Sunday at the Port-of-Spain hospital, according to Hunt.

Salandy, who began boxing at age 11, earned the women's welterweight title in 2002 when she was just 16. She outpointed 23-year-old Colombian Paula Rojas during the Curacao bout to take the WIBA welterweight belt.

At the time, she had stirred controversy in her native Trinidad because at 16 she was still two years younger than the minimum age for professional fights in her homeland.

At a news conference on Sunday, the chairman of the Trinidad and Tobago Boxing Board was visibly shocked by the star boxer's death at such a young age.

"I cannot express in words the enormity of the loss for this country," Brian Lewis told reporters, his voice choked with emotion.

There were no announcements about funeral arrangements.

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