David Browne died from severe bleeding of his brain after receiving a flurry of punches to the head in the 12th and final round of a regional IBF super featherweight fight at Ingleburn on September 11, 2015.
Deputy State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan said his death was preventable in her inquest findings handed down at the Glebe Coroner’s Court on Thursday.
Browne, 28, was repeatedly punched in the head before being knocked down and receiving an eight count toward the end of the 11th round.
He was punched again soon afterwards and fell back into the ropes about the time the bell rang.
“As a result of concussion and probably combined also with exhaustion, Davey was, at the end of round 11, injured to such an extent as to be unable to defend himself or to continue the contest,” Ms O’Sullivan said.
If this had been recognised by referee Charlie Lucas, ringside doctor Lawrence Noonan or combat sports inspectors Paul Toweel and Darren Perkins, the fight should have been stopped, she said.
The coroner recommended significant changes to the official combat sports rules, including that ringside doctors, “examine a combatant during an event…after knockdowns caused by a blow to the head…and on suspicion of concussion.”
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NSW Sports Minister Stuart Ayres said Browne’s death was a “tragedy” and that “the government will carefully consider each of these recommendations and respond as soon as practically possible”.
The Australian Medical Association on Thursday repeated its stance that boxing should be banned, supporting coroner’s findings that doctor’s should be given more support to intervene.
“We’ve seen a reluctance to interfere in other sports like Rugby League, like AFL,” AMA President Dr Brian Owler said.
“I think that is evolving and changing, we’re seeing people taken off for head injuries much more commonly now and that sort of cultural change is something I’d hope would happen in boxing as well.”
Sports such as mixed martial arts and UFC appear to be growing in popularity in Australia.
“They need the people correctly trained and watching for the fighters,” boxing commentator Paul Upham told SBS World News.
“And understanding at the earliest possible sign that someone’s in trouble because the boxer doesn’t want to quit. The boxer doesn’t want to stop, he’s never going to put his hand up.”
Outside court, Mr Browne’s widow Amy Lavelle said the findings had brought some satisfaction and closure.
“I think if he [Mr Browne] was here, if he was looking down, he’d be proud and just to have that feeling that something good has come out of it,” she said.
“What the coroner found is what I’ve felt from the start.
“It’s just good to hear it … and to have it looked at in a formal way and be recognised that it was preventable, and hopefully it never happens again and no one else has to go through this.”
She said “any one of us could have jumped in” but ultimately it was the role of boxing officials to act as a safeguard.