The Cost of Responsibility
by Neil Perkins
Two stories of news in the past week have caught my attention. Amanda Telfer was killed by a falling window frame in London’s Mayfair and then amateur boxer Ed Bilbey collapsed after his contest and died.
It was the Amanda Telfer trial was the first piece of news that broke. I am aware with the anti-establishment culture, we don’t like to talk of liability, blame and negligence – they are terms created by the elite to oppress and keep us in check? You only needed to hear Amanda Telfer’s parents talk to feel their pain and this case was not brought about for political gain or financial reward, it was to prevent tragedies like this happening again.
I had the idea of writing a blog about the cost of responsibility and harp on singing the same old tune I’ve sung for years. The miss-matching of white collar boxing, the poor provisions with respect to medical cover. I’ve been signing this tune since 2007 and in this time, there have been death’s in a boxing ring. I was slatted on a boxing forum by a boxing ‘promoter’ for my narcissistic and over-the-top views, within 6 months of him writing this abuse, he caused the death of a boxer on one of his promotions. A promotion that was run without medical cover and that had an untrained referee who allowed the contest to start without ensuring there was medical cover at ringside.
I am currently on suspension form the British Boxing Board of Control for my ‘involvement’ with un-licensed and un-safe boxing. I fully support the BBBoC in the vilification of unlicensed and un-safe boxing, but I beg to differ in any promotion I am involved with falls into the ‘un-safe or un-regulated’. I do agree with them that 95% of shows that are under the banner of ‘white collar boxing’ are not good for the sports image and are unsafe and unregulated.
Now the Amanda Telfer case highlighted the cost of responsibility and rightly so people were found negligent in the factors that caused her death. I did something in 2011 – I looked to regulate and put provisions on white collar boxing. This self-regulation would allow me to move forward so that I could pitch to a Barristers chambers so that they’d be confident in running a show which consisted of Barristers v Solicitors. I was given lots of help with this project with several members of Chambers assisting me to write the blueprint which we could use to underwrite independent insurance against. This blueprint was a detailed pack that included rules for matching, training and running White Collar Boxing events.
Prior to undertaking this task, I had boxed under the two recognised bodies in the UK – The ABAE (Amateur Boxing Association of England) and the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC), naturally I looked at emulating the rules these bodies put in place for appropriate matching making and medical cover.
When delving a little deeper into medical requirements and appropriate duty of care for ringside medical cover, I was a little surprised. Many of the expert persons in the field I spoke to felt that the ABAE didn’t carry necessary medical cover and failed to provide appropriate ‘duty of care’ for their boxers. When consulting with an insurance underwriter no one would touch me with only providing a doctor at ringside like the ABAE insist on. For the No5 event, we had to not only provide a paramedic, defib and ambulance – we had to inform the local neurological unit and have an anaesthetist at ringside!
In 2013, I branched out with my promotions and ran my first ever amateur boxing show under the ABAE. I was amazed at the resistance I faced from the ABAE when I and the venue insisted we used a paramedic as on previous events. Based on the knowledge I had attained from discussing with experts in the field, I felt their medical provision was lacking. As good as the ABAE are at ensuring bouts are matched appropriately, well regulated (good refereeing) and regulated, the medical cover didn’t sit well with me, so I paid for additional cover. The Bill Meddings QC Cup turned out to be a huge success, it was the platform for many boxers who have since gone on to turn pro and thankfully the extra £500 I spent above and beyond the cost of the DR was thankfully not required.
I am unsure of the details in the Ed Bilbey case, but the resistance I faced from the ABAE when looking for additional medical cover was high, particularly form the ‘status quo’ Doctors who like sitting ringside with their partners and earning a little extra cash whilst watching the boxing. Amateur shows are in the main, well matched and well run events and yes, the participants must acknowledge the risks involved. When I read from reports that a Dr was with the boxer in the ring before an ambulance was called, it makes me question would a paramedic immediately at the venue and an ambulance on stand-by outside have changed the outcome of the tragic case? The ABAE are only guided by the Doctors at ringside and I have no doubt that 30 years ago that this was considered a suitable medical cover.
But 30 years ago….
- Smoking was still considered as good for your health
- We didn’t know the sun could cause cancer (open to debate at some people think it’s the sun creams)
- Low fat diets were could for you
There is reasonable risk of exhaustion, concussion, broken limbs and even a head trauma in a boxing contest – is a Dr the best person to deal with this or is a paramedic and ambulance the best route to go? I have said all along that I support the BBBoC in their vilification of unlicensed and unsafe boxing and I don’t feel the ABAE intentionally fall into this category, but they are lacking in their medical provisions. It goes above and beyond myself, the ABAE and BBBoC to self-regulate themselves – we all do it pretty well and come from a place with the interests of the sport at heart. For the cohort of ‘promotions’ and bodies running combat sports and licensed bars there needs to be some form of legislation with respect to the license to bring these events/ bodies into line.
I wouldn’t like to see the ABAE reprimanded, I would however like people to address what I have been harping on since 2007. Bringing the world of combat sports into line, especially when they’re been run at licensed bars. This isn’t for political gain or financial reward, just to ensure the sport that I love isn’t brought into disrepute. This is done by putting appropriate medical provisions in place. For the benefit of boxing, I hope the inquest into this case proves that nothing could have changed the outcome. Either way I would like this tragedy to be a wake up call the the provisions we need to put in place for all combat sports.