Trainer blasts char­ity bouts

Cor­po­rate events dam­ag­ing the sport, says for­mer champ

The New Zealand Herald - - News - Ben Leahy

Aformer New Zealand and Aus­tralasian light wel­ter­weight box­ing cham­pion has la­belled cor­po­rate box­ing events dis­gust­ing and wants them banned.

Billy Gra­ham has run a box­ing academy for at-risk youth for more than a decade in the Welling­ton sub­urb of Nae­nae.

He said cor­po­rate events were ru­in­ing the sport.

“It’s not about the reg­u­la­tion . . . it should never have gone on in the first place.”

Box­ing New Zealand has ended its in­volve­ment in cor­po­rate box­ing events fol­low­ing the death of Kain Par­sons, 37, after he was in­jured dur­ing the Fight for Christchurch event at Horn­cas­tle Arena on Satur­day night.

An up­com­ing cor­po­rate box­ing event in Christchurch has been post­poned but oth­ers around the coun­try are still go­ing ahead. One of them, Di­a­monds in the Ring, is planned for tonight in Mt Eden. The event raises money for Women’s Refuge.

Co-pro­moter Daniella Smith said she knew all eyes would be on them.

“It’s ex­tremely hard be­ing the first fight after the Christchurch event but it’s go­ing to be hard any week,” Smith said.

“I’m so strict with health and safety, I’m aware that no­body is im­mune to not be­ing hurt, but the risks are al­ways there.”

Smith, who won a box­ing world ti­tle in 2010, said box­ers on tonight’s card — which in­cluded school­teach­ers, navy per­son­nel and pub­lic ser­vants — had trained for 12 weeks.

At pre­vi­ous events 100 fight­ers had com­peted with no head in­juries suf­fered in train­ing camps or on fight nights.

But Gra­ham said the nine min­utes spent in the ring were the hard­est of any am­a­teur sport.

He said it was tough enough even with the right train­ing, use of head­gear and med­i­cal as­sess­ments ev­ery time some­one fought.

“These guys skite about do­ing this for 12 months when most box­ers have been box­ing for eight or nine years. With my boys, I’m para­noid about them get­ting into their first fight and I make sure they’re well equipped to do so.”

Gra­ham said he was con­cerned peo­ple would think twice about sup­port­ing his gym if they thought the academy was in­volved with what hap­pened in cor­po­rate events.

In­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Tracey Martin said the death of Par­sons was a tragedy. She has now sought ad­vice from her de­part­ment about whether char­ity box­ing matches should be bet­ter reg­u­lated.

She wel­comed a sug­ges­tion by a box­ing trainer that un­trained box­ers should train for at least a year be­fore step­ping into a com­pet­i­tive bout.

“I’ve asked of­fi­cials [for] ad­vice on whether we can change the reg­u­la­tions, there are parts of this law that date back to 1908,” she told RNZ.

Fit­ness cen­tre 1 More Round in Christchurch has post­poned its Con­tenders All-Stars Fight Night sched­uled for December 1 and said it would be re­view­ing the way it de­liv­ered both its events. “Our goal will be to pro­vide the sanc­tion­ing body with even greater com­fort be­fore fight night that box­ers are be­ing trained, skilled and con­di­tioned un­der ex­pe­ri­enced box­ing coaches.”

In Welling­ton, a char­ity box­ing event called Bring Back the Biff is rais­ing funds for Mary Pot­ter Hospice and is sched­uled for Novem­ber 17.

Pro­mot­ers said com­peti­tors who had “trained the house down” in­cluded rugby play­ers, car sales­men, gym in­struc­tors and mums.

Photo / Mark Mitchell

Billy Gra­ham says cor­po­rate box­ing is not a mat­ter of reg­u­la­tion — they sim­ply should not hap­pen.

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