GWENT boxer Robbie Turley has won his crusade to resume his boxing career, but his family are warning his case can’t open the floodgates for other boxers without medical clearance to fight, writes Michael Pearlman.
Turley had been out of the ring for 20 months because a routine pre-fight brain scan revealed a pineal cyst, but is due to fight again next month.
Turley’s family sought several independent medical opinions, all of whom concluded Turley’s cyst wasn’t likely to increase his chances of suffering brain haemorrhaging, a view now accepted by the British Boxing Board of Control.
However, in an open letter, Dorset boxer Iain Weaver, who has been diagnosed with an arachnoid cyst, claimed Turley’s case sets a new precedent.
“Besides my own request being refused, I am aware that you have also refused two further boxers, who had applied around the same time as myself for the same, or similar, reasons. Today I learned that one of those you had refused to license, Robbie Turley, has now been granted a license by yourself, following his team initiating legal proceedings against the BBBofC,” Weaver wrote.
“I am not alone in my disgust of the hypocrisy and malicious actions by the British Boxing Board of Control, not just in your dealings with regard to my application and subsequent licensing by the Malta Boxing Commission, but also that by your recent action of licensing Mr. Turley, clearly shows that you had no good reason to refuse his license in the first place, otherwise surely you would have been confident of your position in court.”
However, that stance has been rejected not only by the BBBofC but by the Turley family.
“It is without doubt that Mr. Weaver has an arachnoid cyst on his brain. All doctors are agreed upon that,” the BBBofC wrote in an open letter of their own. “It is without doubt that there is an increased risk, however small, that he could suffer a haemorrhage as a result of trauma to the head. All doctors are agreed about that.
“ In those circumstances the Stewards of the BBB of C, having carefully considered all the medical evidence, concluded that it was not in the interests of Mr. Weaver, the interests of the sport of professional boxing or the public interest to grant him a licence to box. As far as the BBB of C is concerned the health and safety of the boxer is paramount.
“The position of Robert Turley is different. He does not have an arachnoid cyst. Doctors instructed by him made that clear. Indeed, they clearly differentiated his condition from an arachnoid cyst which was recognised as increasing the risk of haemorrhage as a result of trauma to the head.
“Mr Turley’s doctors convinced the Stewards of the BBB of C that there is no increased risk of haemorrhage as a result of trauma to the head in his case. Hence he was granted a licence to box. No legal proceedings have been brought by Mr. Turley against the BBB of C. That is not the reason he was granted a licence. Even if legal proceedings had been brought the Stewards of the BBB of C would not have granted him a licence to box if they had concluded that there was an increased risk of haemorrhage as a result of trauma to the head.”
Those comments have been endorsed by Rob’s father, Chris Turley.
“We have seen the open letter being circulated around the media and boxing outlets and are concerned with the way that Robbie's name is being attached to this case. In our opinion there is also some misinformation contained in the letter,” he explained.
“As much as we sympathise with Iain Weaver's predicament, we believe that safety is paramount in boxing. Robbie has had a Pineal cyst since birth, as do approximately 20 per cent of the world's population. It was determined that a small amount of fluid had accumulated within it and therefore needed to be examined.
“The board suspended Robbie's licence until the results of the examinations were fully conducted, which was a sensible course of action. After being examined by top endocrinolgists it was determined that the cyst remained benign and there was no risk of further injury through Robbie pursuing a boxing career.
“Once we made the board aware of the results they reviewed the case and decided Robbie was free to continue boxing, for which we are very grateful. It has been a difficult period for Robbie and he is now looking forward to putting it behind him and fighting on the 13th December. If all goes well Robbie is hoping to challenge for titles again before too long.
“Iain Weaver is suffering with a different problem - an anachroid cyst. We do not possess the medical knowledge necessary to comment on this but appreciate that the Board must judge each individual case on its merits.
“We wish Iain all the very best and while we accept that Iain Weaver, his family and management are free to conduct their business however they wish, we would like to make it clear that although Robbie's name is mentioned, we were not consulted about the letter and remain grateful to the Board for the way they handled Robbie's case.”