‘No more corporate fights’
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.