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Inquest into death of Great Yarmouth boxer Jakub “Kuba” Moczyk hears of safety concerns from his sister

PUBLISHED: 12:43 11 October 2017 | UPDATED: 12:43 11 October 2017

Inquest into death of Great Yarmouth boxer Jakub “Kuba” Moczyk hears of safety concerns from his sister. Photo: Magdalena Moczyk/Archant Library

Inquest into death of Great Yarmouth boxer Jakub “Kuba” Moczyk hears of safety concerns from his sister. Photo: Magdalena Moczyk/Archant Library

Archant

A novice boxer who died after he was knocked unconscious in his first public fight did not stand a chance due to lack of medical provision, his sister has told an inquest.

Jakub Moczyk, 22, known to his friends and family as Kuba, was rendered unconscious by a punch to the head during the third round of the bout in Great Yarmouth.

His twin sister Magdalena Moczyk told an inquest hearing at Norfolk Coroner’s Court in Great Yarmouth that there was panic as Mr Moczyk lay unconscious and convulsing on the canvas at the Atlantis Tower Arena on November 19 2016.

“There were no doctors, no ambulances for over an hour,” she said in a written statement read to the court.

“No stretchers, nobody was prepared for this. It was a total nightmare. Nobody seemed to be in charge or responsible.

“Kuba didn’t recover. He wasn’t given any chance.”

Mr Moczyk was taken to hospital where he died of his injuries two days later.

His sister said tickets for the match were being sold as £15 standard and £25 VIP.

“It was going to be his first public fight and he was so excited,” she said. “Me and his mum were so scared as we didn’t want him to fight or get hurt.”

She said he was the lightest in his group and his coach struggled to find an opponent for him.

One was found and Mr Moczyk “was then reassured the boy had zero public fights and was on the same level”, his sister said.

On the afternoon of the fight she said he went to the venue for a medical check.

“I was surprised to see Kuba come home very quickly,” she said. “There wasn’t a doctor or anyone qualified enough.

“Scott (Osinski, Mr Moczyk’s coach) said no doctor, no fight.

“At this point Kuba thought the match wasn’t going to go ahead.”

She said a medic was found at short notice and the event went ahead.

Ms Moczyk said she “couldn’t bear” watching fights but went to support her brother.

“Kuba seemed totally fine when his first round started,” she said.

“He was clearly winning the second round as his opponent was sick, not once but twice.

“He was hanging over the ropes and showing no desire.

“Kuba raised his arms and was sure he had won. Everyone was chanting Kuba, Kuba.

“That’s the last time he looked in my direction. I don’t know how but it continued and his opponent threw some really nasty punches.”

She claimed in her statement to the inquest: “We found out later the referee was the opponent’s coach. I think this is really wrong and he had no chance of winning.

“If the fight stopped in the second round, my brother would still be alive.

“Kuba’s opponent wasn’t a novice fighter, Kuba was.”

She said of the event: “It was a total lack of management, responsibility and health and safety.”

His mother, Jolanta Smigaj, described the situation as her “worst nightmare”.

She said: “On the night of the fight Kuba said he was going to get £250 whether he won or lost. Scott Osinski came to the hospital saying ‘this is for you’.

“Kuba was the best son ever. I’m so proud of him.”

Senior coroner for Norfolk Jacqueline Lake asked Mr Osinski how he would describe the event.

He replied: “An unlicensed boxing event.”

Mr Osinski said he had no concerns for Mr Moczyk before the fight, describing him as “a fit and healthy young man”, but felt apprehensive when the gloves were fitted because Mr Moczyk wore 10oz gloves, while his opponent wore 14oz.

Mr Osinski told the inquest there was a 0.5kg difference in weight between Mr Moczyk and his opponent, who can today be named as then 17-year-old Irvidas Juskys, now 18.

In a written statement, the teenager said he was a student and had medical checks before the fight.

“In the second round I couldn’t breath properly,” he said. “The referee Mr Payne asked if I’m alright to continue, I said ‘I’m alright.’”

Polish-born factory worker Mr Moczyk lived in Bath Hill, Great Yarmouth.

Ms Lake said the inquest would hear evidence about “the arrangements that were in place on November 19 at the Atlantis Arena including the risk assessments that were in place at the time”.

Referee’s account

Referee Melvin Payne said he helped find an opponent “match” for Kuba of a similar weight.

Mr Payne said Kuba had no boxing fights to his name but some mixed martial arts experience, and his 17-year-old opponent had one win and had lost two.

Coroner Ms Lake asked Mr Payne if it concerned him he was both the referee and a coach at the gym Kuba’s opponent went to.

“None whatsoever,” he said. “Everyone has to be impartial, you know. It’s pointless giving your lad a win against someone they’ve lost against.”

Asked about glove weights, he said: “I’ve heard a lot of different things. At the time, I believed that both had 12oz on.”

He said lighter gloves were faster and bigger gloves were better for defence as they offer “more coverage”.

Neither fighter had a headguard on, he said, adding there was no requirement for them to do so.

Mr Payne said each of the three rounds lasted two minutes 30 seconds, with one minute between rounds.

He said both fighters “seemed fine” in the first round but in the second Kuba “started to get on top”.

Kuba’s opponent went onto the ropes but Mr Payne said he did not start counting him out, and turned him around.

“He wasn’t hit by a punch,” he said. “He was gagging on his gum shield. That’s more anxiety.”

He said the boy wanted to carry on and, in the third round, the dynamic changed.

“He’s hit Kuba with a good punch, Kuba’s head has gone back, I jumped in and gave Kuba a count, said ‘are you OK? put your hands up, box on’,” said Mr Payne.

“(Kuba’s opponent) came in with a flurry of punches and Kuba went down, hit the ropes and went down.”

He said he got “to eight” when counting Kuba out before the 22-year-old raised his arms to carry on.

“He put his hands up, that signals he’s ready to carry on,” he said.

Mr Payne said it was “my decision” to allow Kuba to carry on but either fighter or their team could throw in the towel, and medics could step in if necessary.

Asked by Kuba’s mother about qualifications, he said he had 40 years of experience.

The inquest has adjourned until Wednesday, October 10 at 10am.

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