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3 Sep, 2021 13:35

‘This tragedy was preventable’: Brain injury chief calls for boxing to be banned after teenager dies in hospital following fight

‘This tragedy was preventable’: Brain injury chief calls for boxing to be banned after teenager dies in hospital following fight

A female Mexican boxer has died in hospital five days after being left in a coma following a brutal end to a fight – and the boss of a brain injury group has warned the tragedy will happen again unless boxing is banned.

Medics rushed 18-year-old Jeanette Zacarias Zapata away for treatment after she was badly beaten by Marie-Pier Houle on Saturday night at Montreal's IGA stadium, where she reportedly endured power punches in a corner and was stunned by an uppercut before a right hook left her without a mouthguard and unable to return to her corner.

Partner and trainer Jovanni Martinez laid Zacarias down in the ring as she appeared to convulse, then watched as a stretcher took the immobilized athlete to an ambulance.

Following the announcement that Zacarias died from her injuries on Thursday, bout promoters Groupe Yvon Michel said: "We would like to offer our most sincere condolences to her family, loved ones, friends and especially her husband, who was at her bedside until her final moments."

The company's president, Yvon Michel, had confirmed on Sunday that Zacarias was placed in a medically-induced coma, describing an ensuing period of up to five days as "critical".

British-based brain injury association Headway responded to Zacarias's death by repeating their insistence that boxing should be outlawed.

"It is impossible to imagine the grief being felt by the husband and family of such a young woman with her entire life ahead of her," said Peter McCabe, the group's chief executive, in a statement. "Our thoughts go out to all who loved her.

Headway was one of the organizations who recently gave evidence to a British Parliamentary inquiry into concussion in sport, pressing politicians to ensure boxing faces greater scrutiny.

"We asked, if Parliamentary committees and sports bodies are considering bans or limits on heading footballs, why are we still allowing people to repeatedly punch each other in the head with great force?" explained McCabe.

"We explained the consequences – as we have repeatedly done for decades – and yet no-one seems willing to address the clear, obvious and unacceptable dangers of boxing.

"Make no mistake: this tragedy will be repeated time and time again until boxing is banned."

Zacarias is the second boxer known to have died from injuries sustained in the ring this year.

In April, 18-year-old Jordanian Rashed Al-Swaisat was treated in the ring and taken to a hospital in Poland following a knockout light heavyweight defeat at the AIBA Youth World Championships. He died 10 days later.

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