Boxing safety concerns KO Thriller in the Chiller

Simon Green
Simon Green

Queenstown's long-running charity boxing night has been cancelled after the death last month of a boxer following a similar event in Christchurch.

Thriller in the Chiller founder and co-organiser Simon Green said until there were clear guidelines concerning charity and corporate boxing events, the Queenstown event was ''on hold''.

More than 80 bouts have been held over the eight years the event has been running, raising more than $300,000 for local charities.

It was due to be held again next May, with would-be boxers signing up in January.

However, the death of married father-of-three Kain Parsons (37) four days after being knocked out at a charity boxing night in Christchurch has brought safety fears into sharper focus.

Mr Green said he, co-organiser Craig Gallagher and head trainer Steve Orr, all agreed to put the event on hold ''indefinitely''.

''The biggest thing is, hand on heart, if we were to continue with the event, still do everything we do, and we absolutely believe we have the best safety, training and selection process of any of these events around the country, someone could still get hurt.

''And we're the ones who have encouraged them to participate, we're the ones who have said we'll look after you and keep you safe.

''Unfortunately, there's just no guarantees.''

Mr Green said Thriller had always had the safety of its competitors as its main focus - all wear head gear, 16oz gloves and train together throughout the intensive bootcamp, creating a community spirit.

The match-ups are decided near the end of the process, to ensure the fairest fights possible. All competitors have medical tests, blood tests and concussion base tests.

However, the event has had its own issues. Two competitors have suffered serious brain injuries. They made full recoveries.

''Both were in controlled training scenarios, both, as we were advised, due to pre-existing, undiagnosed, unknown conditions.''

Mr Green said there were now too many ''unmanageable variables'' such as pre-existing conditions, boxers gaining additional coaching from outside the event, and boxers sustaining an injury, such as concussion, but not informing the coaches and carrying on training.

''Knowing what I know, and seeing what I've seen, and in light of what's happened in Christchurch, can I responsibly say, 'Yeah come and do it, you'll be fine', and at the end of the day, I can't 100% say that.''

New Zealand promoters Duco Events had introduced MRI scans for all competitors for its event, but Mr Green said that would be difficult for Thriller because it initially took in 80 hopefuls.

The scans cost about $1000 a time.

paul.taylor@odt.co.nz

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