Stricter safety rules are being brought into an Auckland charity boxing match today following the death of a boxer in Christchurch from serious brain injuries.
Kain Parsons was knocked unconscious during his fight on Saturday and died later in hospital.
Concerns about the safety of so-called corporate boxing has since been raised and the governing body for amateur and Olympic style boxing, Boxing New Zealand, has cut all ties with such events.
The gravity of what happened to Mr Parsons was not lost on the 26 boxers preparing for the Diamond in the Ring charity match tonight, especially Jackie Nesi.
“For me, obviously that was a shock and that really made me cry and made a lot of our team mates cry,” she said.
But she said it was not going to stop her from entering the ring.
“You can’t let one tragedy … dictate the rest of your life,” she said.
“People cross the road [and] they can get hit by a car, you can’t determine when these things will happen.”
“All you can trust is yourself, your training and if you put in the hard yards and you know that you’ve done everything you can to protect yourself then you can only go with that.”
Co-promoter of the match and also one of the coaches, Daniella Smith, said all of those involved know the risks.
“They said ‘we trust you coach’ and I was just like, ‘you do understand the risks that are involved, I haven’t lied to any of you about this, there are risks’,” she said.
“And one of the guys said, ‘coach, I got concussed in league, more than I ever did in training camp’ – not once did he get injured.”
Ms Smith said while she stood by her standards, she would not be surprised if there was a drop off in charity boxing matches.
“I would assume there would be less people willing to run corporate events because it is hard work,” she said.
“You have to tick all the boxes, you have to make sure there’s head gear.”
The Professional Boxing Commission is backing the Diamonds in the Ring event.
But president Ioana Schwalger said the Christchurch death had been the trigger for stricter rules.
These include allowing the referee, the supervisor or the doctor to stop a fight.
There will also be what is known as a protection count, where the referee counts to eight and if a fighter is unable to defend themselves they have to stop.
“There are rules and regulations in place already, these are now just extra rules … that we’re trying to implement so we don’t have this tragedy ever happen again,” she said.
Ms Schwalger said all the different sanctioning bodies have been meeting to discuss a standardised set of boxing rules.
In a statement, Women’s Refuge said it fully supports the event.
And for Ms Smith and her boxers, safety will be the number one priority for the fights tonight.