Boxing's future in doubt after death

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Scottish boxer James Murray lost his fight for life yesterday, prompting renewed demands for the sport to be banned.

The British Medical Association said society must decide whether to tolerate the "continuing tragic waste of young lives". Mr Murray, 25, was the third British fighter in a decade to die from injuries sustained in the ring. He underwent surgery in Glasgow's Southern General Hospital on Friday to remove a blood clot from his brain, but never regained consciousness.

Drew Docherty, Mr Murray's opponent in the bantamweight British title clash in Glasgow - which ended in ugly brawls among spectators - said he and his manager, Tommy Gilmour, were "shattered".

An independent panel, which investigated last year's death of boxer Bradley Stone and advised the British Boxing Board of Control, will now meet again, it was announced.

Peter Richards, a consultant neurosurgeon who chaired the panel, said it delivered recommendations for improving safety to the board only a few weeks ago. He said: "We will consider what happened over the weekend and decide whether any additions should be made to the report."

Its recommendations included replacing pre-title fight CTC brain scans with the more sophisticated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans; pre- match checks that boxers are not dehydrated to meet the weight requirements; and reviewing the number and length of rounds, as well as the intervals between them.

The board's chief medical officer, Adrian Whiteson, who also sits on the panel, said he expected to publish new guidelines within a month, although it was impossible to make the sport "100 per cent safe".

The Liberal Democrats' sport spokesman, Menzies Campbell, called for a Royal Commission inquiry, and added: "The tragic death of this fine young man makes it increasingly difficult to justify boxing."

Margaret and Kenny Murray were at their son's bedside throughout the weekend. They left yesterday morning, shortly after surgeon Garth Cruickshank pronounced him dead.

Strathclyde police are investigating the violence which marred the end of the dinner and fight at the Hospitality Inn. Paramedics had to push their way through brawling spectators to reach the collapsed fighter.

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