Neu­ro­sur­geon joins fight de­bate

Otago Daily Times - - DUNEDIN - GE­ORGE BLOCK ge­

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.

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