Amateur boxer who died during charity match was a 'dreamer' who aspired to work in NHS

Jubal Reji Kurian in blue suit with tie, smiling, against backgrop of light green leaves
-Credit: (Image: Supplied)

A 23-year-old amateur boxer who died after suffering a traumatic brain injury from being punched in a charity match was a “dreamer” who wanted to work for the NHS, an inquest has heard.

Jubal Reji Kurian died four days after he was knocked unconscious during a boxing competition at Harvey Hadden Sports Village in Bilborough, Nottingham, on March 25 last year.

Coroner Laurinda Bower closed the inquest on Tuesday, concluding that Mr Kurian’s death was an accident. Mr Kurian had suffered bleeding on both sides of his brain which killed his brain stem following a punch to his face which made him fall backwards onto the ground.

In a statement read aloud by the coroner, Mr Kurian’s father called him their “beloved son” who was a “cherished member of the family”.

The statement said: “Jubal had a particular interest in charitable activities and being a force for good. He was eager to make a meaningful contribution to society.

“He was a dreamer and an achiever and set off to Bangalore and pursued a bachelor’s in physiotherapy.”

Six months before his death, Mr Kurian had moved to the UK to begin a master’s degree at the University of Nottingham in sports medicine, but it was his ultimate goal to “serve the NHS” as a physiotherapist.

A boarded up window at Harvey Hadden Sports Village
The Harvey Hadden Sports Village -Credit:Nottingham Post/ Marie Wilson

His father described him as a “highly athletic individual” who played many sports, but had no experience in boxing, and only revealed his interest in the combat sport days before the match.

Mr Singh, a friend of Mr Kurian’s whom he met while at university in India, was watching the charity boxing match when Mr Kurian was knocked unconscious.

In a statement read aloud by the coroner, he wrote: “He was formidable in the ring. The tide turned in the third round and seeing him knocked out is a sight that still haunts me.

“We made the joint decision to pursue a master’s degree. Together we immersed ourselves in our shared passion.

“His absence is keenly felt and his future unjustly taken.”

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 Detective Sergeant Sarah Gregg, from Nottinghamshire Police, who had ruled out criminality during the investigation following Mr Kurian’s death.

She told the inquest: “We decided there was no criminal activity because we could see on CCTV that it was a boxing match. Participants had signed waivers to say they undertook a certain amount of risk.

“There was no intention to assault or cause injury to anyone.”

Miss Bower said during her concluding statements: “His sudden and unexpected death is a tragedy especially because he was boxing with the intention of helping others with his efforts of raising money for charity. This speaks to the very honourable man he was.

“To Jubal’s family, I offer you my unreserved condolences on your loss. I cannot believe for one moment how difficult it must be.”

Addressing Jubal’s opponent who delivered the final blow, Ian David, Miss Bower said: “I can’t imagine the scale of emotion you have been through. I’m sure you are aware that you bear no responsibility or accountability for what happened.”

Miss Bower found that Derby-based Ultra White Collar Boxing, a club organised by Ultra Events which hosted the charity boxing match, followed the organisation’s safety policies and completed the correct medical checks for the amateur boxers before and after the match.

Jonathan Leonard, director of Ultra Events, said: “The death of Jubal, following this tragic accident, deeply saddened everyone at Ultra Events and we continue to offer our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends at this very sad time.

“While there is always a level of risk associated with boxing at any level of the sport, the safety and welfare of all our participants is of paramount importance to us.”