Charity boxer who collapsed on mend after op

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A Queenstowner who collapsed after boxing training – in the build-up to Winter Festival’s fight night – is recovering in hospital following brain surgery. 

Southland Times reporter Grant Bryant was one of 50 local men and women taking part in a five-week boot camp to assess whether he would compete in the annual festival’s Thriller in the Chiller charity event in late June. 

Festival boss Simon Green released a statement today (Monday) saying he was “extremely relieved” to talk to Bryant over the weekend. 

“He was understandably a bit shell-shocked but was otherwise fine and talking about what had happened,” Green says, adding that Bryant’s collapse after four weeks’ of training had been “totally unexpected”. 

The Friday morning incident occurred near the end of a Queenstown Boxing Gym session at the Events Centre. 

“I’ve talked to the trainers, other participants who were watching Grant’s sparring sessions and those who sparred with him on the day, and no one can pinpoint any particular instance that they believe may have caused any sort of injury,” Green says. 

“It was some time after sparring had concluded and the group were warming down that Grant excused himself and then collapsed, which again makes it difficult to determine the exact cause.” 

Green says the organisers and coach of the fitness camp immediately activated emergency procedures and Bryant was taken by ambulance to Frankton’s nearby hospital. 

Bryant was transferred to Invercargill’s hospital before being choppered to Dunedin Hospital and undergoing surgery that night. 

Green says the fitness camp – a mix of cardio sessions and basic boxing technique plus light sparring – is the fourth since last year’s inaugural Thriller. 

It was being run by Queenstown’s only fully-certified boxing coach and an experienced team of trainers, Green says. 

“At this relatively early stage the focus of the training is on fitness, getting some technical grounding and some light, technique-based sparring. 

Green adds: “In the one-minute sparring sessions, head gear is optional at this stage, they use training gloves with additional padding and everyone’s instructed to spar at about 40 per cent of their full power. Once we get into full sparring in week six, head gear is compulsory. 

“All our thoughts are with Grant and we wish him a full and speedy recovery and look forward to his return to Queenstown.” 

Green says the Thriller in the Chiller event – sponsored by Mountain Scene newspaper and a fundraiser for the Bruce Grant Youth Trust – will still proceed as part of the Winter Festival. 

“Having just spoken to him now, I can say he is in good spirits, is recovering well and is still behind the event proceeding as scheduled,” Green says.