Mother of boxer who died after first fight tells inquest she was offered money

Novice boxer Jakub Moczyk died in hospital after being punched during an unlicensed event in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in November 2016
Novice boxer Jakub Moczyk died in hospital after being punched during an unlicensed event in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, in November 2016
12 October 2017 4:15PM

The mother of a boxer who was knocked unconscious in his first public fight and later died has told an inquest she was approached in hospital the day after the bout by a man who helped organise the event and was offered up to £30,000.

The man told the inquest at Norfolk Coroner’s Court in Great Yarmouth that he did not offer the money, and went to the hospital to offer his condolences, although he said he did later make a £1,500 "donation".

Jakub Moczyk, 22, known to his friends and family as Kuba, was rendered unconscious by a punch to the head during the third round at an unlicensed event in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, on November 19 2016. He died in hospital two days later.

His mother, Jolanta Smigaj, described the night at the Atlantis Tower Arena as a “high-risk, unlicensed event” in a statement read to the inquest hearing.

She said that Aurelius Kerpe, who helped organise the event, approached her in hospital on November 20 2016.

“He asked me how much money I want, £20,000, £30,000 was offered,” said Ms Smigaj. “My partner was with me. We were both confused why he asked whatever amount we wanted.”

She continued: “I think it’s all very suspicious from beginning to end.”

Mr Kerpe, who was assisted by a Lithuanian interpreter, was asked by Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake if he offered Ms Smigaj money.

He said: “No, 100% no.”

He said he did make a “donation” of £1,500, adding in broken English: “Everybody advise me don’t give money as looks like I’m guilty and advantage against me, but I don’t care.

“I don’t listen nobody and I donation from heart, sad what happened, just community.”

He said he went to the hospital to “give my condolences” but did not offer money.

He told the inquest he had 20 years of experience in boxing and was asked to help arrange the boxing event.

Asked by coroner Ms Lake about his involvement, he said: “I was asked to help with ordering the ring, referee, and sort of a matchmaker organising who would fight with whom.”

He said he took money from the event but not from the bars, and that he made payments for expenses including £250 for medics, and payments for the referee, ring hire and to fighters.

He said he had completed a risk assessment downloaded from the internet with the help of an English friend, Paul Rackham.

Asked if he checked if medicals had been carried out on fighters before the fights started, he said: “I’m not answering the question.”

Ms Smigaj was ringside when her son was knocked to the canvas and she said in her statement “everything was a big mess”.

She said: “Nobody seemed to know what to do. Everybody kept saying he would get up.”

Ms Smigaj said it took “over an hour for the NHS ambulance to be there”.

Emergency medical technician Susan Mitchison, who was ringside when Mr Moczyk was knocked down, earlier told the inquest that paramedics arrived within 10 minutes.

The inquest continues.

DS Mark Scott, of Norfolk Police, said an investigation found the actions leading to the fatal injury were "within the rules of an organised boxing event".

He said: "Medical provision was reasonable and not grossly below what would be expected."

The investigation deemed nobody had been "reckless with their actions" and no police action would be taken against anybody in connection with the incident.

He said that in unlicensed boxing "there are no stipulations laid down in law as to what has to happen".

DS Scott said the promoter does not need a licence, there is no governing body, no minimum required standard for the level of medical staff on site or for referees, and it is outside the remit of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

He said Mr Moczyk was not required to sign any form of waiver to take part.

The premises should be licensed, he added, and the terms and conditions of the licence are being investigated by Great Yarmouth Borough Council.

Paramedic Russell Hubbard said he was sent to the boxing event at 8.53pm, arrived at 9.03pm, they left the venue with Mr Moczyk in the ambulance at 9.28pm and arrived at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston at 9.37pm.

He said the critical care desk was called at 9.17pm due to problems with Mr Moczyk's airway, but they were told the nearest critical care paramedic was 30 minutes travelling time away.

Sarah Flatman, commercial team manager for Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said she had concerns about risk assessments, including one completed on the day of the event, and that a health and safety investigation is ongoing.

Coroner Ms Lake has sent the inquest jury home to return at 10am on Friday.