Charity boxing death raises concerns

Boxer Kain Parsons died after sustaining a serious injury in a charity match in Christchurch. - Photo: Supplied / Givealittle

Professional boxing groups in New Zealand are distancing themselves from corporate and charity boxing events, amid fears they are harming the sport.

Boxing New Zealand has announced it is stopping its involvement to protect its reputation, and the Professional Boxing Commission is also looking at whether to continue with charity matches.

The move comes after the death of Christchurch man Kain Parsons, who was injured during a charity event at the weekend.

Boxing New Zealand would prefer to be in control of the sport it governs.

Boxing New Zealand chair Keith Walker says that's why the organisation is stepping back from corporate charity events.

"We have something like 1000 people registered under us, and hundreds of people right throughout New Zealand that don't do competitive boxing but who are in boxing gyms.

"We provide this to many communities throughout New Zealand and we do not want this to damage our image at all."

Boxing New Zealand is the governing body for amateur and Olympic style boxing.

It's just one of several authorities that control boxing events in this country, including corporate events.

The Professional Boxing Commission, which sanctions and officiates professional boxing matches within New Zealand, is another.

Commissioner Faiyaz Khan says it would hold a meeting soon to talk about its future with corporate boxing.

Faiyaz says they are also worried about the harm it was doing to the sport.

"Of course we are. If anything happens to a fighter in the ring, it's a big concern to the organisation and to the event organisers.

"Definitely, we're going to have a meeting about this, and thrash it out to see what the best solution is."

Faiyaz says it had become too much of a free-for-all.

"Anybody can do a charity event these days, you know - 10 people turn up and there's a five-bout boxing event. That is one area we're definitely going to look into, so this sort of thing does not happen again."

There are 52 associations sanctioned by the Department of Internal Affairs to promote or approve boxing contests. The department administers the Boxing and Wrestling Act, under which contests are approved.

Keith says Mr Parsons' death - the second in two years involving a boxer at a corporate event - was a wake-up call for all.

But change rested with those issuing licences to run events which were based on what many do not realise was a combat sport, says Keith,

"All of those tournaments that run under our jurisdiction - they have to apply to us for a permit. We issue permits they then have to take to the police, and the police approve it, or not approve it."

Keith says if he could wave a magic wand, he would make sure corporate events were run under one set of rules.

"I would make sure that nationwide, every organisation has to have a set of guidelines and regulations around corporate events - the same rulings and the same governance."

Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin says she asked officials for advice on whether the regulations could be changed.

She says parts of the law date back to 1908. But any change was not likely to happen quickly.

"Legislation takes a long time, which is why I've asked officials to come back to me with regard to how quickly we can change regulation, which is faster to change.

"We need to talk to those in the boxing fraternity; we need to sit down and have a conversation and say, 'how can we make this better'."

Tracey says it might be time to also include martial arts and other combat sports under the Act.

She says it's possible they might look to rugby as an example of how regulation has changed for the safety of players.


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