THE future of one of Invercargill’s most popular social nights out is in doubt.
Fight for Kidz charity boxing co-organiser Dave Bartley told the Southland Express he was unsure if another Fight for Kidz event would take place.
The future of the event is now in jeopardy following the tragic death of Kain Parsons at a different corporate boxing event in Christchurch. Parsons was knocked unconscious while taking part in a corporate boxing night in Christchurch and died days later in hospital.
Bartley and Steve Boutcher launched Fight for Kidz in 2003 to help raise money for various Southland charities and also shine the spotlight on their passion – boxing.
Since 2003, the pair have put together seven fight nights, with the 12 fight-card made up mainly of first-time boxers.
The most recent Fight for Kidz was held in April. This year’s event attracted a crowd of 2700, making it one of ILT Stadium Southland’s biggest drawcards.
“We have raised over $700,000. I would’ve liked to get to a million,” Bartley said.
Since the death of Parsons, Boxing New Zealand president Keith Walker had indicated he now wanted corporate boxing events to be banned.
“There are some issues that are created in these events that may slip under our guard, and we need to be ensuring that this sport is safeguarded,” Walker told Newshub
Fight for Kidz had previously been sanctioned by Boxing New Zealand.
Walker’s proposed ban would need to be taken to a full Boxing New Zealand executive meeting.
Fight for Kidz organisers could instead align with one of the professional boxing organisations.
However, Bartley said he and Boutcher had not had an in-depth discussion as to if they would try to continue to organise the event if Boxing New Zealand backed a ban.
The pair had already started to plan the next Fight for Kidz, which included booking ILT Stadium Southland for September 7 next year.
“At the moment we are just not sure if that might be it [for Fight for Kidz]. We are not going to make any rash decisions at the moment. We need to let the dust settle – there is a lot of emotion.
“No one wants that, it’s very sad,” Bartley said.
The co-organiser said he personally was comfortable with the Fight for Kidz concept continuing despite the shock death of a corporate fighter.
Bartley felt they had the safety measures in place and a proven track record which showed they could put on a safe corporate fight night.
Outside Dean Lonergan’s rugby union-versus-rugby league Fight for Life event, Invercargill’s Fight for Kidz was one of the first corporate boxing events to be staged in New Zealand.
Bartley said it was mandatory for boxers to wear head gear at the Fight for Kidz, and he and Boutcher were also careful when putting together the fights to ensure boxers were evenly matched.
He added they had an intense 13-week training period in place to ensure the novice boxers had the skills and knowledge to defend themselves in the ring.
Bartley believed there had been some “cowboys” in recent years organising corporate fight nights who did not have the same safety measures and expectations in place.