‘No more cor­po­rate fights’

Taranaki Daily News - - Sport - Sam Sher­wood and Mat Ker­meen Stuff

Box­ing New Zealand (BNZ) has turned its back on cor­po­rate box­ing fol­low­ing the death of a Christchurch com­peti­tor.

Kain Par­sons, 37, died in Christchurch Hos­pi­tal on Wed­nes­day. Par­sons, a for­mer builder-turned-project-man­ager for Ver­sa­tile Garages, was knocked un­con­scious dur­ing a fight against for­mer Can­ter­bury and Tas­man Makos half­back Steve Alfeld at Fight for Christchurch on Satur­day.

BNZ, the gov­ern­ing body for am­a­teur and Olympic style box­ing in New Zealand, has held ‘‘very real and grave con­cerns’’ over the safety of par­tic­i­pants in cor­po­rate box­ing and the lack of con­sis­tent reg­u­la­tion be­ing ap­plied for some time.

BNZ, which has been a small player in the cor­po­rate box­ing world, an­nounced on Wed­nes­day that it would ‘‘cease any and all in­volve­ment’’ with so called ‘‘cor­po­rate box­ing’’.

The ma­jor­ity of cor­po­rate bouts and events are sanc­tioned by pro­fes­sional sanc­tion­ing bod­ies such as the New Zealand Pro­fes­sional Box­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (NZPBA) and the New Zealand Na­tional Box­ing Fed­er­a­tion (NZNBF).

BNZ chair­man Keith Walker told they orig­i­nally got in­volved in cor­po­rate box­ing be­cause some of their af­fil­i­ated bod­ies were run­ning cor­po­rate fights.

At the time BNZ was con­cerned around a lack of gov­er­nance in cor­po­rate box­ing so moved to put some of its own reg­u­la­tions in place to make it as safe as pos­si­ble.

But Walker said be­cause of on­go­ing safety con­cerns around cor­po­rate box­ing, BNZ has de­cided to fo­cus on its core busi­ness of am­a­teur box­ing.

Box­ing New Zealand ex­tended its sym­pa­thies to the friends and fam­ily of Par­sons.

David Craig, an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­cred­ited box­ing ref­eree, told Ra­dio New Zealand un­der­tak­ing a course of 12-18 weeks box­ing train­ing – or in some cases even less – was not ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion for a box­ing bout.

‘‘From per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence you should be do­ing at least a year’s worth of train­ing. It’s not only a fit­ness is­sue, it’s a skill is­sue, and from there you’ll know or not if you have the abil­ity to get in there and con­test your skills with an­other fighter,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d like to see ef­fec­tively a war­rant of fit­ness pro­vided to demon­strate they have un­der­gone suf­fi­cient train­ing and are at a level of fit­ness to al­low them to step into the ring.’’

There have also been calls for head­gear to be com­pul­sory in cor­po­rate box­ing and for the glove sizes to be in­creased from 16oz to 18oz. Big­ger gloves pro­vide more pad­ding to limit the im­pact of punches.

Walker said head­gear will not pre­vent con­cus­sion but it can help so he be­lieves cor­po­rate box­ing com­peti­tors should all be wear­ing it.

Ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses, Par­sons was stunned twice by punches, prompt­ing the ref­eree to give him two eight stand­ing counts in the first round to check if he was OK to con­tinue, be­fore he was knocked out in the sec­ond round.

Par­sons was not wear­ing head­gear, which was op­tional. The pol­icy is in line with NZPBA. A re­view is un­der way into the fight.

Mean­while, a Christchurch box­ing fit­ness cen­tre has post­poned its cor­po­rate fight night.

Christchurch box­ing fit­ness cen­tre 1 More Round an­nounced its own cor­po­rate event, Con­tenders All-Stars Fight Night, had been post­poned.

‘‘In good con­science we make this de­ci­sion for Kain, his fam­ily and friends, and while 1 More Round was not di­rectly in­volved with the in­ci­dent we feel that it is more im­por­tant to take a po­si­tion as a box­ing fit­ness cen­tre who runs cor­po­rate box­ing in New Zealand.’’

Cor­po­rate box­ing events and their char­ity equiv­a­lents gen­er­ally in­volve fight­ers with lit­tle or no box­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

A state­ment re­leased by po­lice on be­half of Par­sons’ fam­ily said the out­pour­ing of sup­port from fam­ily, friends and the pub­lic had been ‘‘hum­bling and very much ap­pre­ci­ated’’.

They thanked the ‘‘amaz­ing’’ team at Christchurch Hos­pi­tal’s in­ten­sive care unit, the paramedics at the event, and the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who left their ta­bles to go to Par­sons’ aid.

In­spec­tor Dar­ryl Sweeney said po­lice were li­ais­ing with the event’s or­gan­is­ers and of­fi­cials as they in­ves­ti­gated what hap­pened. The death will be re­ferred to the coro­ner.

Event op­er­a­tor Cal­lam Mitchell said he and his team were dev­as­tated.

‘‘On be­half of the en­tire Fight for Christchurch com­mu­nity, we ex­tend our sin­cere con­do­lences to Kain’s fam­ily, friends and work­mates. Our thoughts are nat­u­rally also with Kain’s op­po­nent dur­ing this in­cred­i­bly dif­fi­cult time.’’

He had spo­ken to Par­sons’ coach, Alfeld and Alfeld’s coach and they were ‘‘com­pletely trau­ma­tised’’. ‘‘We have al­ready reached out to po­lice, pro­vid­ing our full co-op­er­a­tion into their in­ves­ti­ga­tion of what hap­pened.’’

Kain Par­sons died four days af­ter be­ing knocked out at a char­ity event.

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