WITH the roar of the crowd growing wilder, John Chapman watched nervously on the side lines as his son Dominic entered the ring for his first-ever boxing match.
Two hours later, the loving dad found himself standing in a hospital room as doctors told him and his family that there was nothing more they could do for the 26-year-old. Dominic died two days later.
Across Britain, a growing number of young sports fans are taking part in 'white-collar' boxing competitions, which can see them step into the ring with as little as eight weeks of training.
Taking place anywhere from nightclubs to sports halls, the events have become a popular way to raise money for charity, but two deaths in the space of a year have led to concerns they are "too dangerous".
Last month, a student was knocked unconscious at a ring in Nottingham and died after doctors decided to turn off his life support.
It follows the death of Dominic, from Droitwich, Worcestershire, on April 11 last year, which came after six minutes of fighting in a match at Tramps Nightclub.
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Dad John, who is calling for a ban on white-collar boxing, told The Sun: “One death is too many. Now there have been two within the last year.
“We understand there is risk involved in everyday life but we do not want other families to go through what we went through.”
'The pain is unrelenting'
Interest in such events comes alongside the growing craze of amateur celebrity bouts, including the much-hyped clash between YouTuber Logan Paul and Love Island star Tommy Fury earlier this year.
The largest organiser of white-collar fights in the UK is Ultra Events, which has trained over 100,000 competitors since 2009 and raised £27million for Cancer Research UK, according to The Times.
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Student Jubal Reji Kurian died after being seriously injured in a charity boxing match organised by the company in Nottingham on March 25.
Concerns have been raised about the short training time for those new to the ring, and the alleged pairing of amateurs with vastly more experienced fighters.
Rookie Adam Smith suffered two strokes and nearly died after training just eight weeks for a bout in Southampton in 2018.
The dad, from Eastleigh, Hants, said: “After the fight, the bloke [said] he had been doing mixed martial arts [and] sparring for seven or eight years. If I had known, I would not have fought."
Ultra White Collar Boxing said at the time: “We have an impeccable safety record, taking all possible precautions to safeguard participants.”
Speaking about the latest death, Dominic's dad John said: “God help Jubal’s poor parents, we know exactly how they are feeling.
“The pain is unrelenting, it’s every single second. It’s something that you would never want to imagine or want to go through.”
From a young age, Dominic had always been interested in fitness and sports – regularly tuning into pay-per-view fights.
It’s believed he discovered Ultra White Collar Boxing events through an advert, before signing up and undergoing at least eight weeks of training.
Father-of-three John recalls feeling “proud” of his son for wanting to raise money for Cancer Research UK after telling him about the fight.
John recalls: “Dominic was a lover, not a fighter. He wasn’t aggressive or confrontational. He felt he would get fitter and stronger and raise money for a good cause.
"I knew there was a risk but I probably did not realise how serious it was until I watched the fights."
At the event at Tramps Nightclub on April 9, John recalls how the matches looked “almost like professional boxing” and that those in the ring were “taking it very seriously”.
“Due to it being a charity fundraising event, you expected it to be more about showboating and not as competitive," he said.
“The fights were very serious in nature, which wasn’t something that I was expecting and it raised my anxiety levels even higher than they were already at, knowing my son was about to fight.
“I don’t think Dominic would have backed out. He had a lot of friends and us there to support him and knew he was raising money for a good cause.”
John remembers the “bravado” his son displayed while walking into the ring, but says he “was a soft, very caring and nurturing person inside”.
Recalling the fight, he said: “In comparison to the other fights, it was a bit of a tepid fight. It didn’t seem to be at the same aggressive level that other fights were at.”
The fights were very serious in nature, which wasn’t something that I was expecting
John explained that Dominic did not take many hits to the head, but in the final round – the third of three two-minute bouts – appeared to tire.
He says: “After the fight, Dominic sort of walked over to his corner, which was next to where we were sitting, and he collapsed.”
NHS paramedics and an air ambulance car arrived shortly after and Dominic was taken 30 miles away to Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.
John followed in the car but arrived ahead of them because the medics were forced to stop to perform emergency treatment.
After waiting in the hospital, a doctor approached Dominic’s family to inform them there was “nothing more” they could do.
Selflessly, the Chapmans made the decision to donate their son’s liver and kidneys, which saved three lives.
John says: “He suffered traumatic head injury, which caused his death.
“We decided to donate his organs to others and spent some time with Dominic before his life support machine was turned off.”
Dominic’s death affected many and tributes poured in over the days that followed his passing.
The University of Worcester installed a memorial bench, while his friends launched a Sunday league football club in his memory.
John recalls the “church was overflowing” on the day of his funeral and “everyone was devastated by the loss”.
He says: “Dominic was just a lovely young man, well-respected by all in his life – be that family, friends or work colleagues.
“He was always looking out for me and helping me. Anyone who was lucky enough to come across him loved him.
“The loss will always be there and in a way, we have come to accept that and are willing to carry that because it reminds us of him and how loved he was.”
Dominic’s family is due to attend an inquest in May that they hope could provide more answers about his death and the event’s safety.
After his death, Worcester City Council temporarily banned all white-collar events not affiliated with England Boxing – the governing body for amateur boxing – from being held in council buildings.
In May last year, West Mercia Police said they would not investigate Dominic’s death but confirmed Worcestershire Regulatory Services would hold an investigation.
A spokesperson for Ultra White Collar Boxing (UWCB) told The Sun: "Everyone was left deeply saddened by Dominic’s tragic death last year following our event in Worcester.
“Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Dominic’s family and friends.
“With an inquest due to take place later this year we are unable to comment further until that has concluded.”
After a recent investigation by The Times, UWCB stated that they provided a safe environment and “any suggestion to the contrary is simply wrong”.
The spokesperson added: “Matches are based on weight, fitness and ability.
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“Our system of participants being assessed across an eight-week training period is far more likely to ensure fair matches than simply picking people of similar weights from different gyms.”
England Boxing declined to comment after being contacted by The Sun.
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