BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — A former boxer has choked to death during a televised croissant eating contest in Argentina.

The death of 56-year-old Mario Melo was announced by his sister Monday.

Aida Melo told the local TN television channel that was watching as her brother collapsed behind the contest's announcer as he was choking on a medialuna, a traditional Argentine croissant.

She said that people thought he was pulling a prank. But he kept desperately gesturing to the announcer for help.

She said a doctor finally was summoned from the audience and Melo was rushed to a local hospital in the town of Pinamar, where he was later declared dead on Sunday.

Melo was a light heavyweight and heavyweight champion of South America in the 1980s and 1990s.