Thriller hangs up its gloves

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Fight night: Damian Hill, in blue, eyes up his opponent Glen Wallace during 2015's sold-out Thriller in the Chiller. PICTURE: BLAIR PATTINSON

Queenstown’s charity boxing event Thriller has been axed in the wake of the death of a Christchurch boxer.

Founder and co-organiser Simon Green says “hand on heart” there are too many unmanageable variables to ensure the safety of those who step into the ring.

The popular boxing night, sponsored by Mountain Scene, has been running for eight years.

It was due to be held in May next year, with would-be boxers signing up in January. But the death of married father-of-three, Kain Parsons, 37, four days after being knocked out at a charity boxing night in Christchurch last month, has brought safety fears into sharper focus.

Green says he, co-organiser Craig Gallagher and head trainer Steve Orr all agreed to put the event on hold “indefinitely”.

Green says: “The more we talked about it, slept on it, reconsidered and came back, we all came to the same conclusion.

“The biggest thing is, hand on heart, if we were to continue with the event, still do everything we do, and we absolutely believe we have the best safety, training, and selection process of any of these events around the country, someone could still get hurt.

“And we’re the ones who have encouraged them to participate, we’re the ones who have said we’ll look after you and keep you safe.

“Unfortunately there’s just no guarantees.”

Green says Thriller has always had the safety of its competitors as its main focus – all wear head gear, 16oz gloves and train together throughout the intensive bootcamp and training, creating a community spirit.

The match-ups are decided near the end of the process, to ensure the fairest fights possible. All competitors have medicals, blood tests and concussion base tests.

But, still the event has had its own issues. Two competitors have suffered serious brain injuries. They made full recoveries.

“Both were in controlled training scenarios, both, as we were advised, due to pre-existing, undiagnosed, unknown conditions.”

Green came close to stopping Thriller after the most recent one.

“At the end of the day, you have that conversation and say ‘who’s going to be the one that’s going to break that news’.”

He adds: “Knowing what I know, and seeing what I’ve seen, and in light of what’s happened in Christchurch, can I responsibly say, ‘yeah come and do it, you’ll be fine’, and at the end of the day, I can’t 100 per cent say that.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz