Medic says six-year-olds touted as ‘skilled fighters’ in fatal boxing match trial
PUBLISHED: 14:08 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 14:49 01 November 2019
Six-year-olds and fighters with broken ribs have competed in unlicensed boxing matches, according to a medic charged with health and safety failings at a fatal bout in Great Yarmouth.
Jakub Moczyk, known as Kuba to family and friends, died after a series of blows to the head in the third round of a fight at the Atlantis Tower Complex in November 2016.
Aurelijus Kerpe, 34, of Great Yarmouth, and Andrew Cowlard, 54, of Ormesby, have denied health and safety failings and are standing trial at Norwich Crown Court.
Former army medic Cowlard was hired at the last minute to provide medical cover for the fight, the court heard.
And he claimed despite knowing some of the boxers hadn't been medically checked before they entered the ring, it was the referee's job to call off the fight if there were concerns.
Kuba's opponent, a 17-year-old, hadn't been medically checked and the referee for the bout was his own trainer, the court heard.
Evidence Cowlard gave to an inquest into Kuba's death in 2017 was read to the court.
He said he had not intervened when Kuba's opponent started vomiting because he had "no power" to force the fight to stop, and that was the job of the referee.
"The promoter can still allow a fight to go on even if we find someone not fit to fight," he said.
"A couple of years ago I medicalled someone and they were found to have two broken ribs. He wanted to fight and the promoter asked us to allow him to fight."
He said his company - LifeShield - now carries disclaimers for boxers to sign to waive their responsibility if they insist on fighting.
"I could pull out of the event and not be at that fight but the fight would go ahead with no medic and we would feel guilty," he said. "That is the big dilemma."
He added he doesn't cover boxing matches any longer if the promoter allows boxers to fight without having medical checks.
The court also heard propositions sent to LifeShield by Great Yarmouth Borough Council about their conduct at the fight, including that a number of boxers did not have medical checks, and that they left the referee to make decisions about fighters' ability to continue when he was not medically trained.
In response, Cowlard wrote: "It is up to the referee and corner men to make decisions or ask for advice. We have no power whatsoever, which we would like to have.
"Due to our new policies most promoters don't want them so we are not covering boxing.
"These people and promoters do not want rules and regulations. If they did they would be members of the association.
"If they go underground they have no medical cover.
"In the last match I covered there were children as young as six being advertised as skilled fighters."
Sarah Flatman, officer in the case for Great Yarmouth Borough Council, added there is no legislation in place for semi-professional unlicensed boxing matches.
"Boxing associations have their own rules and regulations which lay down medical cover and how boxing matches should be carried out," she told the court.
"Then we have unlicensed boxing, which could be white collar boxing or semi-professional boxing. We have this problem because for semi-professional boxing matches there is no legislation in place specifically for the boxing match itself."
The trial continues.