23rd February 2021, 17:45 | therfl
The Rugby Football League adds its condolences to the family and friends of Matt King OBE, whose death at the age of 33 has been announced by the Rugby League Benevolent Fund.
“Matt was so inspirational to so many people, inside and well beyond our sport, in the way he responded to the devastating incident which curtailed a promising sporting career, and transformed his life,” said the RFL’s Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer.
“I regard it as a privilege to have met him and got to know him. The tragic accident he suffered playing for the London Broncos Academy team 17 years ago led directly to the formation of the Rugby League Benevolent Fund – a fitting legacy for Matt.
“On behalf of the RFL, the sport of Rugby League and anyone else left in awe by the achievements of his life, I send condolences to his family and friends. He was a special man.”
Matt King suffered a serious spinal injury playing for the Broncos Academy in April 2004 – the title of the autobiography he published six years ago was 04.04.04, the date of the incident.
The injury left him paralysed from the neck down and unable to breathe independently.
But with the support of the RL Benevolent Fund, he defied his disability, becoming a successful and talented mouth artist, and gaining a First Class honours law degree.
He was awarded an OBE in 2012 for services to charity, having raised tens of thousands of pounds for the RL Benevolent Fund and other organisations through a series of events and activities.
Steve Ball, the RL Benevolent Fund General Manager, said: “We are devastated at the loss of a young man who was an inspiration to everyone who had the privilege to meet him.
“In true Matt King style, he fought to the very end but tragically his battle ended at 4.30 this morning.
“Our thoughts are with Matt’s family, especially his wife Ilona and their two lovely daughters, two-year-old Arabella and baby Georgia, who is just 11 months old.”
Tim Adams MBE, the Chairman of the RL Benevolent Fund, said: “The whole Rugby League family will be deeply moved at the terrible loss of such a very special young man.
“Matt really was an incredible individual who achieved great things in his young life and we feel robbed to have lost him like this.
“The RL Benevolent Fund will continue to offer its full support to Ilona, Arabella and Georgia and I am sure the wider Rugby League family will join me in sending love and condolences to the King family.”
For further details of the RL Benevolent Fund - Rugby League Benevolent Fund - Rugby League Cares