Neurosurgeon joins fight debate
A DUNEDIN neurosurgeon has joined the chorus of voices speaking out against charity boxing events, after a fighter died following a charity bout.
Meanwhile, those involved in the Dunedin Casino Pride of the South fight later this month say the event will go ahead as planned and are assuring the safety of participants.
Christchurch man Kain Parsons died this week after being critically injured in a charity boxing match on Saturday night.
Concerns about the safety of corporate boxing have since been raised and the governing body for amateur and Olympicstyle boxing, Boxing New Zealand, has cut all ties with such events.
Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin is seeking advice on whether charity boxing should be regulated.
There were calls to make changes, and a conversation with the wider fraternity needed to be had, she said. She liked Boxing New Zealand’s suggestion of a boxing warrant of fitness.
Mr Parsons’ death prompted the introduction of stricter safety rules at an Auckland charity boxing match last night. These included allowing the referee, the supervisor or the doctor to stop a fight. There was also a ‘‘protection count’’, where the referee counts to eight and if a fighter is unable to defend themselves, they have to stop.
When contacted, Dunedin neurosurgeon Ahmad Taha said the risk of brain injury from repeated knocks to the head meant he could not condone charity boxing.
‘‘Regardless of the intentions, which are good, definitely the people involved are at risk of bad consequences.
‘‘The risks outweigh the benefits. I don’t think subjecting someone to the risk of death . . . is justified.’’
Boxing coach Ryan Henry, of Dunedin gym the NZ Fight and Fitness Academy, helped train the contenders for the Dunedin event.
A large part of ensuring safety at corporate boxing bouts was matching fighters to opponents of the appropriate skill level, he said.
New rules introduced in the Auckland fight were already going to be used in Dunedin.
The fact all fighters in the Dunedin bout trained at his gym meant experienced coaches could match them appropriately and identify any issues, unlike at some events where inexperienced fighters sometimes trained in separate gyms and met only in the ring.
Mr Henry said fullface headgear and large 18oz gloves were compulsory in the event, while chest guards were recommended for women and groin guards for men.
All contenders must sign a waiver acknowledging the risk.
Fighters would be subject to medical checks and a doctor would be present during the event, to be staged at the Edgar Centre on November 24.
Edgar Centre management had sought safety assurances from the organisers and were understood to be satisfied with the measures in place.
Sponsor Dunedin Casino did not respond to a request for comment.
Dunedin travel agent Lisa Taurines, who will square up against Jaime Heperi, said she had been training at Mr Henry’s gym for three years and felt confident coming into the fight after the ‘‘very good’’ training.
She had trained with her opponent and knew the pair were on the same skill level, but was diplomatic when asked about her chances of victory.
‘‘We’ll both win if we are standing at the end.’’
Safety measures . . . Coach Ryan Henry squares up at the NZ Fight and Fitness Academy in Dunedin yesterday wearing the fullface headgear and large 18oz gloves he says will help ensure the safety of participants in the charity boxing bout he has helped organise.