Saturday 21 April 2018

Gardai to investigate shock death of MMA fighter Joao Carvalho

Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho (right) during the fight against Charlie Ward. Photo: Dave Fogart. Photo: Dave Fogarty
Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho (right) during the fight against Charlie Ward. Photo: Dave Fogart. Photo: Dave Fogarty

Luke Byrne and Jane O'Faherty

Two separate investigations into the death of MMA fighter Joao Carvalho are under way today.

News of the investigations come as the father of Carvalho's Irish opponent said the referee should have stopped the match sooner.

Charlie Ward Senior, father of MMA fighter Charlie Ward (36), said his son "didn't go out to kill anyone" and has been left devastated by Carvalho's death.

Gardaí have confirmed they are investigating the death of the 28-year-old Portuguese athlete, and a file will be prepared for Dublin Coroner's Court. This is standard in all investigations involving sudden deaths.

Separately, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has begun its own preliminary probe into the incident, to determine whether it should investigate further.


"Generally, people who suffer injury or death during sporting activity fall outside of the remit of the HSA," a statement said.

"We will however examine the circumstances of this tragic incident to determine if there is an employer/employee relationship and if we have a role."

The Irish Amateur Pankration Association (IAPA) - the body responsible for MMA here - said it would participate in any investigation into the incident. It is headed by John Kavanagh, the coach of both Charlie Ward and UFC champion Conor McGregor.

A post-mortem examination has been scheduled for today, the results of which will help to clarify what contributed to Carvalho's tragic death.

Carvalho lost the welterweight bout to McGregor's teammate Ward at the Total Extreme Fighting (TEF) event at the National Stadium on Saturday.

The fight was stopped by the referee in the third round.

Video footage from the event showed that Carvalho suffered numerous punches to the head.

He looked unsteady on his feet before Ward landed the punch that made him collapse.

The referee finally called a stop to the punishment as Ward began to unleash punches on his grounded opponent.

Medical personnel for the bout, speaking while Carvalho was still in hospital over the weekend, said he was smiling and appeared fine after the fight.

However, around 20 minutes later, he vomited, complained of headaches and said that he felt nauseous.

He was rushed to Dublin's Beaumont Hospital where he underwent surgery for a bleed on the brain.

Despite the best efforts of doctors, he passed away 48 hours later at 9.35pm on Monday.

In an emotional interview with Joe Duffy on RTÉ's 'Liveline' programme yesterday, Charlie Ward Senior said his son told him that he had been pulling punches in the final round of the fight.

"Charles told me there was no way he was hitting him hard in the last round, because he knew he had him beat," Mr Ward said.

"He said a child would have took them," he continued.

"He said: 'No way were those punches hard. There's no way I was hitting him hard'."

Mr Ward added that his entire family were left shocked by the death of Charlie's competitor.

Asked about how Charlie's mother is coping, he said: "Sure, she's in bits".

Mr Ward also said his son had been training for "seven days a week for the last 20-odd years".

"It's happened in my family," he said.

"He didn't go out to kill anyone. It's just one of these unfortunate things.

"He went out to win his fight, but the referee could have been a bit quicker as far as I'm concerned."

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport