Norgrove tragedy a sad reminder after fighter becomes first to die from injuries sustained in a British ring in 18 years
00:02 GMT, 8 April 2013
09:10 GMT, 8 April 2013
The tragic death of Michael Norgrove comes as a reminder not only of the dangers of boxing but of the strides taken towards making the hard old game as safe as humanly possible.
Norgrove has become the first boxer for 18 years to die from injuries sustained in a fight in a British ring.
That remarkable statistic will do nothing to ease the grief of Norgrove’s family and friends but it will defend the sport he loved against the inevitable howls of the abolitionists.
Tragedy: Michael Norgrove (left) collapsed after his fight with Tom Bowen was stopped
While the British Boxing Board of Control’s strict medical procedures ensure that fighters here are among the best protected in the world, many other sports have higher fatality rates.
While mountaineering is the most hazardous sporting activity,a runner has died in successive London marathons and numerous boys are killed every year when struck by baseballs in the US junior leagues.
Norgrove is only the third British-based boxer to die as a direct result of a fight since 1986.
At 31, the Zambian-born Norgrove became a late starter in the ring after his family moved to north London. The fight after which he lost his life was only his sixth as a professional. He passed away on Saturday night, nine days after suffering bleeding in the brain during a light-welterweight bout in the historic Ring at Blackfriars.
Green and gold: Norgrove boxed for Repton Boxing Club in Bethnal Green, east London
He was winning that contest against Drew Docherty and did not appear to have taken any significantly hard punches. But as soon as Norgrove started behaving abnormally the referee stopped the fight and called the doctors.
'Paramedics went to work immediately and an ambulance on stand-by sped Norgrove to hospital, where trauma treatment by a neuro-surgeon is reported to have commenced well inside The Golden Hour, the first 60 minutes during which brain damage can be restricted to a minimum.
If such urgent practices had been in force years earlier, it is reasonable to speculate that Michael Watson would not be in need of a wheel-chair today and Gerald McClelland would not be in a permanent vegetative state back in the US following his dramatic battle with Nigel Benn.
Unusually, and sadly, Norgrove’s condition was too severe for him to be saved. But Board general secretary Robert Smith is right to point out that their exhaustive medical examinations and the safety precautions they demand at all promotions now reduce risk to the minimum.
James Murray, after a British bantamweight title fight in Glasgow in 1995, and Steve Watt, after a defence of his Scottish welterweight title in 1986, were British boxing’s two preceding fatalities.