Sunday 16 December 2018

Questions raised over safety after MMA bout led to fighter's death

Joao Carvalho’s brother Jose Alexander Silvestre. Picture: Collins
Joao Carvalho’s brother Jose Alexander Silvestre. Picture: Collins

Fiona Dillon and Louise Roseingrave

The Portuguese MMA ­fighter fatally injured in a bout was ­taken to hospital and lay ­unsecured on the floor of an ambulance amid chaotic scenes, his inquest heard.

Joao Carvalho (28) sustained 41 blows to the head in the Total Extreme Fighting contest at Dublin's National Boxing ­Stadium on April 9, 2016.

Medics carried the fighter through a crowded hallway to an ambulance waiting outside, Dublin Coroner's Court heard.

The fighter was rushed to the nearest emergency ­department on the floor of the ambulance. The father-of-two died in ­hospital two days after the fight.

Cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

The inquest heard from a neurosurgeon who said he was told there was a "limited budget" for the event when he raised concerns over the presence of suitably qualified medical personnel.

The inquest jury returned a verdict of misadventure and recommended the endorsement of a national governing body for MMA in Ireland.

They further recommended that all medical partners engage nationally qualified paramedics and, in the short term, MMA Ireland adopts the boxing safety standards.

Mr Carvalho's brother, Jose Alexandre Silvestre, travelled from the UK for the inquest.

"This was his dream. It was what he wanted. He loved this sport," Mr Silvestre said.

"It was something he always wanted in this sport, to fight in a different country."

The referee stopped the fight in the third round of what he described as an "intense" contest.

Mariusz Domosat said he ended the fight on a technical knockout because Mr Carvalho "looked exhausted".

Mr Carvalho's opponent, Irish fighter Charlie Ward, said the fight was close.

"He staggered back to the other side of the cage, we both fell. I punched him a number of times and then the ref stopped it," Mr Ward said.

Around 10 minutes after the fight ended, Mr Carvalho began to lose consciousness. Medical cover was provided by EventMed, a company that provides support for events around Dublin.

There were three doctors present and one Red Cross ambulance.

Ambulance driver Lawrence Fitzpatrick said the medical room was small and crowded and the 3ft-wide corridor was "chock-a-block".

Inside the ambulance, Mr Fitzpatrick was told the patient was on the floor.

"It meant I had to drive safer. He's not secured," he said.

Mr Carvalho was brought first to the Mater Hospital and later to Beaumont Hospital.

The inquest heard from neurosurgeon and Safe MMA Ireland co-founder Prof Daniel Healy who said he contacted the promoter Cesar Silva with safety concerns before the fight.

"Mr Silva indicated there was a limited budget for the event and the safety standards required were not possible," Prof Healy said.

Irish Independent

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