Amateur boxer died after charity fight left him with ‘irreversible’ brain damage

A 23-year-old amateur boxer died after a charity fight left him with an “irreversible” brain injury from a blow to his face which knocked him unconscious in the ring, an inquest has heard.

Jubal Reji Kurian suffered bleeding on both sides of his brain which killed his brain stem after falling backwards from a punch on March 25 last year, despite appearing to be winning the fight.

The boxing match was hosted by Ultra White Collar Boxing, a Derby-based boxing club organised by Ultra Events, at Harvey Hadden Sports Village in Bilborough, Nottingham.

The amateur boxing match took place at Harvey Hadden Sports Village in Nottingham (Sophie Robinson/PA)
The amateur boxing match took place at Harvey Hadden Sports Village in Nottingham (Sophie Robinson/PA)

In the inquest on Monday, coroner Laurinda Bower heard from Dr Sarah Linford, a critical care consultant for Nottingham University Hospitals, who said no medical assistance could have saved Mr Kurian from his “irreversible condition”.

Mr Kurian’s parents flew from UAE to Nottingham following his injury and their son’s life support was turned off on March 29 2023, four days after the boxing match.

He had suffered bleeding on both sides of his brain and swelling which killed his brain stem, the inquest was told.

Dr Linford said: “The first scan showed evidence of bilateral subdural haemorrhage on the surface of the brain which contributes to pressure.

“I think that Jubal’s brain injury was a result of blunt force trauma and global oedema. He did not make any efforts to break his fall so the assumption is that he was unconscious. I suspect he was not breathing on impact to the floor.”

Dr Linford said she found it “concerning” when she checked him for signs of brain activity at Queen’s Medical Centre.

She said: “No signs of him waking, coughing, or breathing were present in the few days we waited (for his parents to arrive).”

There were no fractures found to Mr Kurian’s face or skull and no damage discovered to his brain vessels.

The opponent who delivered the final blow, Ian David, 47, was also an inexperienced boxer and offered “sincere condolences” to Mr Kurian’s family during the inquest.

He said: “I’m no Muhammad Ali, I do not expect to knock someone out. I was expecting him to get back up and finish the round, shake hands, and go for a beer.

“I was not the winner that evening, I did not feel like a winner. He left not in a way I expected so I was not a winner that night.

“He came out swinging and throwing from round one which caught me off guard. He was swinging and punching a lot more than I thought he would do at the beginning.

“He surprised me and I just had to dig in myself more than anything and see what energy I have got. He got tired and my shots were hitting him more. Things started to swing my way.

“I caught him with one right shot. I was then sent to my corner to wait further instruction and I had a sip of water.”

Miss Bower heard from Ultra Events director Jonathan Leonard who explained that the amateur boxers had to take part in free training sessions held at Rebels Gym in Radford, Nottingham in the eight weeks leading up to the fight.

Mr Kurian attended 22 training sessions in this period, and his opponent Mr David took part in 20 to 21, the inquest heard.

Mr Leonard said: “We make everyone train together so coaches can assess and make matches on a number of factors.

“There were no concerns around Jubal’s ability or around his fitness, he had gone to lots of training. He had really knuckled down and done well in training.

“Jubal was probably winning the bout and he got cut with one blow. Both participants were landing blows on each other and then unfortunately the bout was cut with one punch.

“I have watched the video (of the match) and it looks like a fair bout. There was no ability discrepancy. They had a fair bout.”

The inquest continues.