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Last Updated: Friday, 27 July 2007, 16:25 GMT 17:25 UK
Boxer shot in smoking row dies
James Oyebola
James Oyebola asked customers to stop smoking
A former British heavyweight boxer who was shot in the head during a row over smoking at a bar has died after his life support machine was switched off.

James Oyebola, 47, was shot at the back of Chateau 6 in Fulham Road, south-west London, early on Monday, after asking customers to put out their cigarettes.

Police said he died at 1239 BST after his life-support was switched off. Family and friends were at his bedside.

The shooting is now being treated by police as a murder inquiry.

Detectives have made an appeal for witnesses.

I would urge anyone with information to assist us in bringing those responsible for murdering James to justice
Det Ch Insp Scott Wilson

Det Ch Insp Scott Wilson said: "This is now a murder inquiry and we need the people who were in the club that night to come forward as they may have information that could help us piece together what happened last Sunday night.

"James's family are devastated. I would urge anyone with information to come forward to police and assist us in bringing those responsible for murdering James to justice."

A statement from Mr Oyebola's family said: "James's family would like to thank and praise the valiant efforts of the critical care unit at Charing Cross Hospital.

"The family would also like to say thank you for the world wide support they have received but would ask that their privacy be respected in this very sad moment of time."

'Saddest times'

The family said a charity foundation would be set up in his name to help keep local children off the streets.

Boxing promoter Frank Maloney said: "James had to fight tooth and nail for everything he achieved in life and then he dedicated himself to encouraging young kids to do the same.

"This is one of the saddest times I have ever experienced."

Officers from Operation Trident, which deals with gun violence within the black community, have searched three addresses in the Wandsworth area in connection with the shooting.

Doctors at Charing Cross Hospital had declared Mr Oyebola brain dead on Thursday.

Three suspects

Police said he was shot after asking three men to stop smoking in a covered courtyard area at the back of the bar, on the Fulham Road.

Police believe three black suspects, aged between 19 and 25, ran from the club in separate directions.

Mr Oyebola, who was born in Nigeria, won 18 of his 23 fights and was a bronze medallist at the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

He won the WBC international heavyweight title in 1993 and retired in 1996.

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