Trainer blasts charity bouts
Corporate events damaging the sport, says former champ
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.
Billy Graham says corporate boxing is not a matter of regulation — they simply should not happen.