Watson ruling challenged by Board of Control

A legal victory won by Michael Watson against the sport's British regulators was challenged in the Court of Appeal yesterday in a case of vital importance to other sporting bodies.

A legal victory won by Michael Watson against the sport's British regulators was challenged in the Court of Appeal yesterday in a case of vital importance to other sporting bodies.

The British Boxing Board of Control, which went into administrative receivership after a High Court judge held it liable for the brain-damaged boxer's injuries in a £1m damages action, argued that it owed him no duty of care.

The 35-year-old Watson attended court to hear Ronald Walker QC, for the BBBC, contend that it was not to blame for the dire consequences of his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight fight against Chris Eubank at White Hart Lane, London, in September 1991.

The BBBC-approved doctor who initially attended to Watson did not enter the ring until seven minutes after the fight had been stopped. No emergency ventilation equipment was available and the doctor was not experienced in resuscitation procedures. By the time Watson underwent surgery to remove a blood clot, he had suffered serious brain damage.

Last September Mr Justice Ian Kennedy ruled that Watson was entitled to damages from the BBBC on the grounds that he would have made a good recovery - although his career would have ended - if the doctor had entered the ring immediately and the necessary equipment and experienced medics had been present.

Walker said the judgment caused consternation to the BBBC "and no doubt to other rule-making bodies in other sports." He asked: "Why does the RFU not owe a similar duty to the tens of thousands of rugby players who participate under its rules?"

Watson was injured as a result of "willingly accepting a risk", he contended.

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