TRAGIC PASSING OF DAVEY BROWNE RAISES QUESTIONS OF SAFETY IN BOXING ONCE MORE
By TOM WATT on September 15 2015
The tragic passing of Australian Super-Featherweight Boxer, Davey Browne (22-2-1) serves as a stark reminder of the risks associated with Professional Boxing and what it is that these men go through to earn their living. The news of Browne’s passing came on the same weekend that his fellow Australian, Michael Zarafa was brutally knocked out by Peter Quillin in America and subsequently stretchered out of the arena. Whilst we await details of the exact causes of death, we do know at this point that Browne was KO’d in the 12th and final round of his fight with Filipino, Carlo Magali at Ingleburn RSL in Western Sydney after being floored by a punch. He appeared to regain consciousness at the time but moments later he fell from his stool and lapsed into unconsciousness.
Browne was rushed to Liverpool hospital but did not regain consciousness and in the early of hours of this morning the difficult decision to turn off his life support was made by his family. Browne was the father of two and already a crowd-funding page has been set up to help support his young wife and their family as they battle with this tremendous personal loss. (CLICK HERE TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT)
Browne’s only loss prior to Friday night came at the hands of fellow Australian and former World Champion Billy Dib who, alongside a stream of top fighters from around the country including Daniel Geale, have already shown their support for the Browne family. Browne was on something of a comeback trail and a win on Friday would have seen him move into the top 15 in the World in the highly competitive Super-Featherweight Division, plans were already afoot to mount a World Title challenge in 2016.
Boxing has not been without it critics in recent years in Australia with a number of politicians as well as the Australian Medical Association (AMA) stating publicly their concerns about the safety of the sport (AMA are already calling for combat sports to be banned at the next Commonwealth games as well as a separate call to ban combat sports for all under-18s). This tragic news, almost six months to the day from the passing of another Aussie Boxer, Braydon Smith, will have done nothing to quieten those detractors.
As mentioned in the article linked above from the ABC, prominent Australian Boxing figures such as Danny Green and Luke Jackson have recently weighed in on the subject – Jackson won Bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games and has since gone undefeated as a Pro. Here’s what Jackson had to say:
"No-one is forcing me to box. I do it for myself. It's taught me discipline and respect," he said.
It's put me in the position I am in today, I own my own business. It's helped me and without it I don't know where I'd be, probably in jail or dead."
Jackson’s points out that the risks associated with Boxing are clear to anyone that steps into the ring and it’s something you have to accept before you do so – something true of most sports even if not as acutely obvious. The Australian Olympic Committee spokesperson, Mike Tancred echoed that sentiment, saying;
"You can suffer concussion from falling off a horse or a surfboard or a bicycle and you really don't seriously think that we should ban equestrian or surfing or cycling,"
Whilst those examples seem absurd, the likelihood of a surfer dying from the risks associated with his/her sport in Australia are much higher than that of a Boxer with multiple deaths each year from drowning and Shark Attacks – with the latter seemingly on the rise. More surprisingly, on average 20 Australians die every year from injuries related to Horse-Riding alone. Deaths in any sport are a tragic event and every Sport has the responsibility to do what it can to protect it’s participants from such danger but in every sport there is always a risk, however small, that something may go wrong and we cannot simply ban sports because of this, Australia is a free democratic country (as of the time of writing) and it is not the place of the Government or any other regulatory body to step in and decide what sports are and are not acceptable.
The question surrounding the safety of Boxing will rage on in the public over the next few days as people (primarily with no connection to the sport or understanding of the finer points regarding the discipline and respect that Boxing teaches) look to jump on the bandwagon and ride on the coat tails of a tragedy. In a country where both the NRL and AFL glorify the physical aspect of their sports whilst fending off off-field controversy after controversy (often linked with issues of domestic violence, a problem seemingly plaguing Australia) – there are clearly other more pressing issues within Australian sport worth devoting time and money to that will have a much wider-reaching affect on the Australian people such as media and financial coaching for players thrust into the limelight - however these issues may not be met with the same exposure and subsequent wave of public opinion that this kind of tragedy creates and in a World where value is predicated upon the minutes of air-time generated and not the end-result, those much needed issues may never be properly addressed until it is too late.
For the sport of Boxing it is a time to reflect upon the dangers associated with our Sport, all too often we neglect to mention or discuss the issue of the safety of fighters but this heartbreaking news serves as a reminder to everyone of the risks Boxer's take as they make a living for themselves, despite what you see from the likes of Floyd Mayweather on Social Media, the vast majority of Boxers make a modest living in the Sport and pay a huge price with the sacrifices they and their bodies make on a regular basis, something that should always be appreciated and never be forgotten.
1. FLOYD MAYWEATHER JR.
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