By Wimbo Satwiko
Speaking on the day Muhammad Afrizal was supposed to get married, Chris John offered his condolences to the deceased boxer’s family and urged authorities to make sure Indonesian boxing saw no further casualties.
Afrizal died on April 4, four days after undergoing brain surgery for a subdural hematoma, a collection of blood on the surface of the brain. He suffered the injury during a super featherweight fight in Jakarta against Irvan Barita Marbun.
Chris, the World Boxing Association featherweight super champion, said his heart went out to Afrizal’s family.
“I hope this will not happen again, and local boxing authorities must take lessons from the incident,” he said on Sunday.
Afrizal, who was due to marry on Sunday, was Indonesia’s 28th boxing casualty since 1948. The last fatality was Anis Dwi Mulya in 2007.
Having started his professional career at the lowest level, Chris said he knew well how hard life was in the local boxing scene. Fighters must contend with a dearth of sponsors and unpredictable schedules in addition to their opponents.
Chris is one of the few local boxers to rise through the ranks and secure good management en route to international success. The 32-year-old urged local sanctioning bodies to pay better attention to boxers’ safety.
“I think they should hold a sort of workshop on health and safety for both boxers and trainers. It’s important to avoid more casualties in the local boxing scene. At the least, boxers and trainers should know why it can happen and how to prevent it,” he said.
He pointed to one bad habit that had persisted throughout the years. Many local trainers order boxers not to drink too much water when training in order to reach their ideal weight.
“That’s wrong. One thing that can save lives is to have a proper water supply in our body. Fluids are very important. From what I know, our brain is protected by fluid and when we don’t have a proper fluid supply, that will decrease and our brain won’t get have protection from impact. That could lead to brain hemorrhaging if our head gets punched,” Chris said.
He also urged all stakeholders to look at themselves in order to benefit the local boxing scene.
“Trainers and managers must know how to save their boxers, while boxers have to improve their game in order to get more pay and attract bigger sponsors for their careers,” Chris said.