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Shane Ross: MMA bosses must stop 'dragging their feet' on safety after inquest into death of fighter

Joao Carvalho died on 11 April 2016 after he was knocked out during an MMA fight in the National Boxing Stadium.

Joao Carvalho
Joao Carvalho

MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT, Tourism and Sport Shane Ross has said that MMA leaders in Ireland are “deliberately dragging their feet” on the establishment of safety standards.

His comments come following an inquest yesterday into the death of Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho, who was fatally injured during a bout in Dublin.

The 28-year-old sustained 41 blows to the head in the Total Extreme Fighting contest at Dublin’s National Boxing Stadium on 9 April 2016.

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

The critically ill fighter was rushed to the nearest emergency department unsecured on the floor in the back of the ambulance amid chaotic scenes.

Carvalho, a father of two, died in hospital two days after the fight. The cause of death was blunt force trauma to the head.

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

The jury further recommended that all medical partners engage nationally qualified paramedics and in the short-term MMA Ireland adopts the safety standards used in professional boxing.

File Photo Minister for Transport Shane Ross has given a stark briefing to his Cabinet colleagues on the financial position of Bus Eireann. He said it was at a crisis point now and if it continued as it was going, it could become insolvent within 24 month Source: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

In a statement today, Minister Ross said: “It appears to me that MMA leaders here in Ireland are deliberately dragging their feet on the establishment of appropriate governance and safety standards.

Today I call on the Irish Mixed Martial Arts Association (IMMAA) to do the right thing – take the steps that are required to safeguard your fighters and prevent needless injury and loss of life.
Sport Ireland stands ready to help but can only help if you are willing to ask, and if you are willing to do the right thing.

Labelling elements of MMA as “disturbing”, the minister previously expressed his concerns and called for further measures to be taken to guarantee more safety.

Also commenting was Minister with responsibility for sport Brendan Griggin who said that he was “terribly disappointed” at the lack of progress in governance and safety within MMA in the two years since Carvalho’s death.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Sports Ireland CEO John Treacy said that while the body does not recognise MMA as a sport, it was prepared to work with the IMMAA to support it towards self-regulation.

Treacy also described the details of Carvalho’s death at the inquest as “terrifying and frightening”.

With reporting from Louise Roseingrave

Read: Joao Carvalho inquest rules misadventure – fighter was hit with 41 blows to head

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Sean Murray

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