White collar boxing review call after fighter's death

Dominic Chapman
Dominic Chapman died two days after a white-collar boxing match in 2022 [Dominic Chapman]

A coroner will write to the culture secretary to call for a review of white-collar boxing matches after the death of a man in an event in Worcester.

Dominic Chapman, 26, collapsed after receiving a “single catastrophic punch” to the head in a bout at Tramps nightclub in April 2022 and died two days later, an inquest at Worcestershire Coroners' Court heard.

Worcestershire coroner David Reid ruled he died of a “traumatic brain injury”.

He said he would ask the minister to “consider whether steps need to be taken” to regulate the sport.

Professor Peter Whitfield, a consultant neurological surgeon, told the inquest on Wednesday Mr Chapman had been “very unlucky”.

He described the punch as “catastrophic” and said it was likely to have torn a blood vessel and caused a brain injury.

John Chapman, Dominic's father said: "Banning it may not be realistic, making it safer should be something that can happen.

"We want to make positive change. We know England Boxing are presently lobbying Parliament because of concerns they have, and similar ones that we do, to make it more of a controlled, safer event."

He said he would never forgive the fact that the event carried on after his son was taken out of the nightclub.

The eight-day inquest heard concerns from other participants about boxers being mismatched during training sessions and the boxers being asked to undertake just eight weeks training.

Mr Reid saying he was “not entirely surprised” by the inconsistency in the boxers’ training, which took place at gyms.

But he said some boxers had been “fobbed off” when they tried to raise concerns over their weights being “falsified” and he believed it was a concern that a medical team who were brought in for the event had not completed a risk assessment.

'Tragic loss'

Mr Chapman was the third person to have died taking part in a white-collar boxing match since 2017, the inquest heard.

The coroner said the company which staged the event, Ultra Events Limited, would receive a prevention of future deaths report requiring them to take measures to make their events safer.

After the inquest, Sarah Owen, a solicitor who represented the family, said they were saddened that it had taken "the tragic loss of their son and a coroner’s inquest for the serious failings of Ultra Events to be recognised".

"Dominic’s family want people to understand this before they agree to take part in similar events and they want to see safety improvements implemented to make white-collar boxing safer for everyone," she added.

Tramps nightclub
Mr Chapman had taken part in a fight at Tramps nightclub in Worcester [Google]

In delivering his conclusions, the coroner also noted white-collar boxing did not appear to be overseen by any regulatory body.

“Therefore it’s up to those organisers at these events to make whatever arrangements they think is appropriate to ensure the safety of participants," he said.

The inquest also heard that gloves and headguards were reused between fights, making them heavy and wet.

The company insisted the gloves used in Mr Chapman's fight were "brand new gloves made from closed cell foam which does not absorb water".

Dominic and John Chapman
Dominic Chapman's family said they wanted to see safety improvements in white-collar boxing [John Chapman]

Jon Leonard, director of Ultra Events, said at the inquest Mr Chapman had attended 13 of 16 free boxing training sessions ahead of the bout.

He told the coroner that despite missing some of the sessions, he was "happy" Mr Chapman was ready for the fight and that his opponent was "a fair match".

Mr Leonard also said Mr Chapman had signed paperwork stating he was "happy" with his opponent.

"Brain injuries are incredibly rare - we have been running these events for 15 years now," he added.

In a statement following the inquest, a spokesperson for Ultra Events said they offered Mr Chapman's family "our deepest condolences" and the welfare of those who took part in their events was an "absolute priority".

Medical care at the event in April 2022 "was appropriate", they said and added that they would await the coroner's report to respond further.

John Chapman with a picture of Dominic
Mr Chapman said he will never forgive the fact that the event carried on after his son was taken out of the club [BBC]

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