Day latest boxer to die in 2019 as safety fears rise

Patrick Day never regained consciousness after being knocked out in the ring. He died four days later.
Patrick Day never regained consciousness after being knocked out in the ring. He died four days later.

NEW YORK • Four days after being knocked unconscious in a super welterweight title fight, 27-year-old boxer Patrick Day died, prompting further concerns about the safety of the sport.

The American had been in a coma since Saturday night, when he fell to the canvas and hit his head after his opponent, Charles Conwell, landed several blows in the 10th and final round of their US Boxing Association fight in Chicago.

Despite having emergency brain surgery, doctors were unable to save the junior middleweight.

His death was announced by Lou DiBella, the promoter for both Day and Conwell, on Wednesday.

"It becomes very difficult to explain away or justify the dangers of boxing at a time like this," DiBella wrote on his website. "This is not a time where edicts or pronouncements are appropriate, or the answers are readily available. It is, however, a time for a call to action.

"While we don't have the answers, we certainly know many of the questions, have the means to answer them, and have the opportunity to respond responsibly and accordingly and make boxing safer for all who participate. This is a way we can honour the legacy of Pat Day."

Day, who was knocked down three times during the fight at the Wintrust Arena, is at least the third professional boxer to die this year after suffering a traumatic brain injury in the ring.

In July, Maxim Dadashev, a 28-year-old Russian, died four days after a light welterweight fight in Maryland. Two days later, Hugo Alfredo Santillan, a 23-year-old Argentinian, died after collapsing at the end of a lightweight fight near Buenos Aires.

Their deaths raised questions among boxing regulators about the well-being of fighters, who often become dehydrated so that they can make weight. Medical experts have said that dehydration can hurt vital organs and leave the brain less protected from injury.

On Monday, Conwell posted an open letter to Day on Instagram, saying he never meant to hurt him and was considering quitting boxing.

"All I ever wanted to do was win," he wrote. "If I could take it all back I would - no one deserves for this to happen to them. I replay the fight over and over thinking what if this never happened... why did it happen to you."

NYTIMES, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2019, with the headline 'Day latest boxer to die in 2019 as safety fears rise'. Print Edition | Subscribe