Tragic Boxer Death Highlights The Dangers Of Pre-Existing Symptoms In Sport

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The Law Of... discussing pre-existing conditions

Scottish boxer Mike Towell tragically died after suffering a severe brain injury during an eliminatory fight for the British welterweight title in Glasgow.

Tragic Death Highlights Dangers Of Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

The boxer, nicknamed 'Iron Mike', was rushed to hospital after the fight was stopped in the fifth round; he died 12 hours after being taken off life support.

Since his death, tributes have poured in for the 25-year-old, who sadly leaves behind a partner and young son.

Discussing the dangers of pre-existing medical conditions, Anna Thompson – Legal Manager for the Multi-Track Personal Injury team at Simpson Millar – explains the implications of this shocking situation.

Pre-Existing Condition

During a fight with Welsh boxer Dale Evans, who has since explained who he "feels responsible" for the incident, Towell was twice knocked down before the referee stopped the bout in the fifth round.

Towell received treatment in the ring, before being rushed to hospital, where died of bleeding to the brain.

Towell's partner, Chloe Ross, revealed that the boxer had been suffering migraines for weeks prior to the match; however these had been dismissed as being caused by pre-fight stress.

Gym owner and promoter Alex Morrison, who owns the gym where Towell practices, claimed that the Dundee-born boxer had stopped a sparring session in the weeks before his fight with Evans.

It is claimed that he was advised not to box for the day as "he wasn't feeling too good", however Mr Morrison claims that "he looked okay".

Responding to the revelation of his migraines, Towell's management team claimed they were not aware of the boxer's ailments in the run-up to the match.

A spokesperson for the British and Irish Boxing Association said that action would have been taken before the bout had Towell mentioned his headaches during the pre-fight medical.

As a standard question during the pre-fight medical, the doctor should have asked both fighters if they had suffered from headaches, had the answer been yes the boxing association would have considered cancelled the fight, the spokesperson claimed.

Footballer Collapses Due To Pre-Existing Condition

Boxing is not the only sport that can hold dangers for participants with pre-existing conditions, as there have been multiple reports of footballers with heart conditions collapsing on the field.

Recently, Daniel Wilkinson, a non-league footballer, died after collapsing on the pitch. The Shaw Lane AFC defender suffered a suspected heart attack.

After his death, it was revealed that the ex-Hull City youngster had Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy (ARVC), the same condition suffered by Fabrice Muamba, who collapsed on the pitch during a Premier League game between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur.

Wilkinson's death resulted in experts calling for mandatory screenings for young sports stars, to try and identify any underlying conditions.

Fatal Accident Inquiry

A Member of the Scottish Parliament has called for a fatal accident inquiry to ensure that the same incidents cannot happen again.

Towell is the third professional boxer to die in the UK from fight-related injuries in 21 years.

The call for a fatal accident inquiry came after prosecutors confirmed that they would investigate the circumstance surrounding the boxer's death, namely if the death could have been avoided.

Explaining the legal implications of the tragic incident, Anna said:

"The sad death of Scottish boxer Mike Towell highlights the issues sportsmen and women face when participating in sport when they have symptoms and injuries that are ignored."

"Mike Towell had complained that he had been suffering with migraines, however still took part in the boxing match and sadly passed away following bleeding to the brain."

"It is thought that he signed a disclaimer to say he was fully fit before the fight took place, which as the spokesperson for the British and Irish boxing association explained would have asked whether he had recently suffered from headaches."

"This disclaimer could preclude the boxer's family from pursuing the matter further legally, however the call for a fatal accident inquiry could raise questions about whether the safeguards in place are suitable."

"While the circumstances of their deaths are different, Towell attempting to carry on despite a previous health condition features echoes of Daniel Wilkinson, who collapsed due to a pre-existing heart condition."

"Ultimately, two young men have died doing what they each loved because of a failure to spot pre-existing conditions; hopefully sports stars learn from these tragic losses and take more care in identifying long-term health problems in the future."

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