Family of boxer Scott Westgarth call for ringside brain scanners

The brother of a promising boxer who died hours after the biggest victory ofhis career has called for mobile brain scanners at ringside for pro fights, andfor venues to be closer to neurosurgical units.

Light heavyweight Scott Westgarth, 31, died after his 10-round victory over Dec Spelman at the Doncaster Dome leisure centre in February 2018, a three-day inquest in the town has heard.

On Thursday, Doncaster Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a conclusion ofmisadventure.

Ms Munday said that one of her key concerns at the beginning of the hearing was whether the correct decision was taken to take the boxer to the nearest hospital - the Doncaster Royal Infirmary (DRI), which does not have neurosurgical unit.

But the coroner concluded that it was "an appropriate decision" because casualties were only transferred directly into a neurosurgical units in veryexceptional circumstances and, given his injuries, the 40-minute direct journey to the unit at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield would probably have meant he would have died anyway.

Scott Westgarth Credit: PA Images

Speaking after the coroner's conclusion, Mr Westgarth's brother, Adam, who attended the inquest with his mother Rebecca, said he accepted the coroner's ruling, but said the Doncaster Dome was too far from a neurosurgical unit for professional bouts to take place there.

And he called for mobile brain scanners to be routinely located ringside withstaff trained to use them.

Speaking outside Doncaster Coroner's Court, he said: "The Doncaster Dome is a little bit too far from a neurosurgical unit I think, which had a part to play in this.

"One question I have to ask is that brain scanners could have detected thebleed at an earlier stage and appropriate action could have been taken straight away.

"There just wasn't enough physical signs in that first half an hour, 40minutes until things progressed."

Mr Westgarth said he believed the scanners cost around £14,000 each, but could raise concerns about unseen problems within three minutes.

He said: "That's a small price to pay when it comes to saving boxers' lives.

"We can't do anything about Scott but I think, ultimately, as part of hislegacy, something needs to change and governing bodies need to be serious about brain scanners just to give boxers a better chance of survival if the worst was to happen."

He added: "I've always been a fan of boxing and boxing's always been in myfamily.

"Scott loved the sport. I don't think Scott would want a change, he wouldn'twant boxing to be banned or anything like that.

"But I think the governing bodies should be doing a little bit more, if theycan, to protect the boxers."

Mr Westgarth added: "He went out out on a high, saving five people throughorgan donation.

"And I believe he was the only boxer ever to win his fight and then lose hislife. I'll love him forever and I'll miss him."

Scott with his partner Natalie

Scott's father, John, a former professional boxer, also attended the inquest, along with with his daughter Bethany and Scott's long-term partner, Natalie. They are also calling on boxing authorities to stage fights in close proximity to specialist neurosurgery units.

They paid tribute to Scott after the inquest concluded today, saying he was much more than just a boxer and had left an incredible legacy.

He had the most amazing spirit, the most amazing outlook on life. Life was full of fun and adventures. He was my prince charming with a bobble hat and a cheeky smile. He was a person that people aspired to be like.

Natalie Kerr

John Westgarth said he was extremely proud of his son, describing him as a 'great kid'.

"He was my friend as well as my son", he said. "Everyone in boxing around the world needs to take a look at what happened to Scott, because it might help save other lives in the future."

Coroner Nicola Mundy recorded a conclusion of misadventure, explaining that Scott had died taking part in an activity that he would have known carried a degree of risk.