Charity boxer Kain Parsons' KO leads to safety probe

There are growing concerns over the safety of corporate boxing after a Christchurch man was knocked out and critically injured during a charity match. 

Kain Parsons was knocked unconscious during the fight at the OneStaff Fight for Christchurch event at Horncastle Arena late on Saturday night. After suffering a "medical event", he was taken to Christchurch Hospital in a critical condition. 

Auckland Boxing Association president Paul McSharry believes it's time to enforce longer training periods for those competing in corporate boxing matches. In some cases they only train for eight weeks, which Ms McSarry says is not enough time. 

"Amateurs and professionals train full-time, while corporate boxers, some train for 12 weeks and some train for eight weeks," he told The AM Show. "For me, that's the problem - they need to be recognised by trained coaches and for a period of time that it takes to condition them."

Corporate boxing events in Auckland are set to face stricter rules including compulsory use of headgear after Mr McSharry called a meeting in September to address concerns over the number of fighters getting seriously injured at the events. 

It's understood Mr Parsons wasn't wearing head protection during his match. Ms McSharry said wearing headgear during corporate boxing matches will become compulsory as of 2019. 

Boxing has enjoyed resurgence thanks to corporate Fight Nights, events in which people take 12 weeks to train for a bout. But calls for a crackdown go back to 2016, after 49-year-old Neville Knight collapsed and died during an event run by Nabby's Boxing Gym in Hamilton. 

Recent concern arose after a number of serious incidents this year, including the death of Wellsford woman Lucy Brown, who died during a routine training session in August. The same month, west Auckland boxer Joel Rea was hospitalised after a bout lasting just eight seconds. 

As well as mandatory headgear during matches, the Boxing Association has floated making fighters over 100kg use larger gloves to soften the impact on their opponents. Another potential rule is making sure all corporate fighters register to ensure they're fighting an opponent of the same skill level. 

But not everyone is keen on the idea of regulating corporate boxing. The AM Show's Mark Richardson - who fought cricketer Scott Styris - said there's been "enough instances now where people know the risks. People should be allowed to take those risks."

"Stop sanitising the world," said the sports reader. "These events raise a lot of money for charity - they're very popular, you've just got to go into them with your eyes wide open."

Duncan Garner retorted that Auckland boxing wouldn't exist without the corporate fights. He said the events fund all the amateur boxing, but believes there needs to be "some standard regulations".