Scott Westgarth is the latest combat sports athlete to die shortly after either a boxing or mixed martial arts contest. He was 31 years old.
On Saturday night Scott Westgarth, 31, beat Dec Spellman via points in a ten round professional boxing bout. The fight was an English light-heavyweight title eliminator and was held at the Doncaster Dome in Doncaster, England.
According to MailOnline , Westgarth appeared in pain throughout his post fight interview. Then he was seen wincing and holding his head before collapsing (per Guardian Sport) in a dressing room.
Awful news to wake up to that Scott Westgarth has passed away after collapsing following his win on Saturday night. Thoughts are with his family, friends and all involved in the show on Saturday #RIPScottWestgarth #TWBW pic.twitter.com/5MBb9XTszu
— World Boxing Wall (@WorldBoxingWall) February 26, 2018
MailOnline reports that Westgarth was rushed by paramedics to Royal Hallamshire Hospital. On Sunday night Westgarth passed away from his injuries.
Stefy Bull, who promoted Westgarth vs. Spellman, took to twitter to share his feelings on the tragic incident. After Westgarth was transported to hospital Bull wrote: ‘Absolutely heartbroken tonight 30 years in boxing and its [sic] hit home how serious this so called sport is, I feel physically sick.”
Later, after Westgarth had been declared dead, Bull tweeted: “God Bless [Scott Westgarth] 2 promote a Boxing show and a young man doing a job he loves losing his life I have no words RIP lad thoughts go out 2 yr family and yr team it’s been the hardest few days I’ve had to endure no idea what 2 do moving forward.”
God bless @scottwestgarth 2 promote a Boxing show and a young man doing a job he loves losing his life I have no words RIP lad thoughts go out 2 yr family and yr team it’s been the hardest few days I’ve had to endure no idea what 2 do moving forward
— Stefy Bull (@StefyBull) February 26, 2018
Spellman also paid tribute to Westgarth, tweeting: “Absolutely heartbroken and lost for words. I’ll continue to pray for Scott’s family and the people close to him rest easy my friend.”
Absolutely heartbroken and lost for words ail continue to pray for Scott’s family and the people close to him rest easy my friend xxx
— dec spelman (@dec_spelman) February 26, 2018
Numerous other figures from the British boxing scene, such as Eddie Hearn, Frank Bruno, Tony Bellew, Ricky Hatton, and Carl Frampton, have since expressed their condolences online.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set-up with the stated goal of provide funds to Westgarth’s family. At this time of writing the campaign has raised £820 towards its £10,000 goal.
Westgarth, who lived outside of Newcastle, England, began his professional career in 2013. In 10 professional bouts he recorded 7 wins (2 KOs), 2 losses, and 1 draw.
Westgarth is not the first British boxer to die of a traumatic brain injury in recent years. In 2016, Scottish boxer Mike Towell, 25, died after a fight in Glasgow. In 2013 Michael Norgrove, 32, died after a fight in London.
In 2016 Nick Blackwell, 27, was forced to retire after surviving a life-threatening brain bleed after a fight with Chris Eubank Jr. at Wembley Arena. Blackwell was placed in a medically induced coma for around a week to allow the swelling around his brain to subside. Later that year Blackwell had to return to hospital after suffering another brain bleed, this time after a sparring session. Blackwell remained in a coma for several months after that incident, but is now awake and in rehabilitation.
Last December Swedish boxer Erik Skoglund, 26, also suffered a brain bleed in sparring. Skoglund was put in a medically induced coma and surgery was performed to alleviate the pressure being caused by the bleed. He left hospital in January.
A brain bleed (specifically a subural hematoma) also claimed the life of former UFC heavyweight Tim Hague, who died after a boxing match in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada last June. Irish MMA fighter Joao Carvalho also died from a subdural hematoma, after a fight against Charlie Ward in Dublin in April 2016.
According to BBC Sport, following news of Westgarth’s death, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) released a statement, through general secretary Robert Smith, claiming to have improved safety in British boxing.
“We are one of the most forward-thinking commissions in the world regarding medical aspects. Some people don’t like us because they say we are too strict. This is a tough, tough sport and we try to make it as safe as possible but you can’t make it 100% safe. That doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a disaster, but more importantly it’s a disaster for his family and that’s the most important thing.”