Tayside and Central Scotland

Father of boxer Daniel Flaherty calls for safety rethink

Daniel Flaherty Image copyright Daniel Flaherty
Image caption Daniel Flaherty had to have part of his skull removed after suffering a bleed on the brain

The father of a Scottish boxer who suffered a bleed on the brain after a fight last year has called for a rethink on safety within boxing.

It follows the death of professional fighter Mike Towell following a bout in Glasgow last week.

Amateur boxer Daniel Flaherty had to have part of his skull removed after he collapsed in Motherwell last October.

His father, John Flaherty, told BBC Radio Scotland that his son will never go into a boxing ring again.

Daniel Flaherty, from Stirling, collapsed after losing a fight that could have seen him named Scottish Novice Champion.

He underwent life-saving surgery to stem the bleeding on his brain at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow that night.

A few days later, after taking a turn for the worse, he had part of his skull removed. He has since had a titanium plate fitted.

His father told the Good Morning Scotland programme that Daniel had made a "very good recovery".

Image copyright John Flaherty
Image caption Daniel Flaherty has also had a titanium plate fitted in his skull

He said: "At the time, there was questions whether there would be some sense of brain injury but that doesn't seem to have materialised.

"He's got back more or less full mobility. His speech is a bit slurred at times but he's ok with that.

"He had a wee problem with his eyes at first but that's settled down too. All in all, where we've been and where we are now, we couldn't ask for any more."

John Flaherty said neither he nor his son oppose boxing, despite their experience over the last 12 months.

But he added: "Daniel obviously, being through what he's been through, he wouldn't go in the ring again.

"And if he knew what was going to happen to him he wouldn't have gone into the ring."

Image copyright STV Glasgow
Image caption Mike Towell, centre left, died after a bout with Welsh boxer Dale Evans

Mr Flaherty pointed to the death of Mike Powell, the life-threatening injuries suffered by Nick Blackwell in a fight with Chris Eubank Jr in March, and the experience of his son, as evidence that there needs to be a rethink in the sport.

He called for head guards to be reintroduced to the amateur sport, after they were removed from men's boxing in 2013 amid claims it would reduce concussions.

He also suggested that the method of scoring could be changed, and they could "take away the head as a target", especially at amateur level.

"I don't believe for a minute, in all honesty, that a boxer goes into the ring thinking that he could die that day," Mr Flaherty said.

"I think boxers go into the ring and think it will never happen to me."

Competition rules

Mr Flaherty claimed that brain bleeds "happen quite regularly" in boxing.

"The problem is they're not reported very well, there's not record of it," he said. "Boxing itself doesn't keep a record. Even Daniel's case wasn't investigated."

A spokesman for Boxing Scotland said they constantly reviewed procedures to ensure injured boxers get prompt access to effective medical care.

He added: "Following Daniel's injury, our medical commission reviewed the steps which were taken to treat Daniel at ringside and concluded that everything that could have been done was done and has helped to assure his recovery.

"Even though Daniel was on the first rung of the elite boxing ladder, as an elite boxer, he was required to box without a head guard. That is a requirement which is imposed on us by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) technical and competition rules which govern all our national competitions.

"We note Daniel's dad's comments about unreported brain bleeds with concern. We were not aware of such serious injuries going unreported and should be grateful if Mr Flaherty would pass us a copy of the information he has in this regard."

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