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Catastrophically Injured Boxer Comes to Terms with Sport's Regulatory Body

Boxing is a sport in a category all of its own in that participants are not just permitted but expected to deliberately inflict injury on one another. That point was made in a personal injury case concerning an overseas boxer who collapsed in a coma following a championship bout in the UK.

The boxer, in his 30s, lost the fight on points before suffering a massive and acute subdural haematoma in his dressing room. He had to some extent recovered in the years since the incident, to the point where he could walk on a treadmill, but life as he knew it was effectively over. He launched a compensation claim against the body that regulates boxing in this country, the British Boxing Board of Control Ltd (BBBC).

He had previously taken part in a number of bouts in his homeland under the aegis of an overseas boxing regulatory body. He alleged that, prior to the fight in England, he was exhibiting signs of a chronic subdural haematoma, including personality change and headaches.

It was argued that, in ruling him fit to fight in this country, the BBBC had accepted at face value a certificate of health provided by the overseas body. He asserted that the deliberate infliction of injury places boxing in an entirely anomalous category and that, in those circumstances, regulators are required to take proactive steps to mitigate risks to participants.

The BBBC acknowledged that the incident was a tragedy for the boxer and his family and wished them well for the future. It was a matter of regret that this should be the outcome of any boxing match. In denying liability for his injuries, however, it argued that, before the fight, the boxer had denied having any symptomology.

Whilst accepting that it owed him a duty of care, it denied that that duty extended to a requirement to itself take images of a foreign boxer's brain before permitting him to fight in the UK. It considered that its rules provided appropriate protection to boxers and that it had taken reasonable care for the boxer's safety. It asserted that it was entitled to rely on a certificate provided by the overseas body, which applied similar rules to its own.

Following a hearing, the High Court approved an order that brought the proceedings to an end. The Court ruled that all that may be reported about the order is that the proceedings were stayed on terms agreed between the parties.