An Auckland mother-of-three is "furious" with the culture of corporate boxing after her husband was hospitalised in a full-contact heavyweight bout after just weeks of training.

Olivia Rea says the future health of her husband Joel sits at the crossroads after he was seriously concussed last Saturday just eight seconds into a corporate fight night at ABA Stadium run by Peach Boxing.

The owner of the West Auckland boxing gym, Isaac Peach, has since announced the gym will no longer run such corporate events saying "after that I hate it, I hate the fact it happened to him, I hate the fact it could happen again".

It is the second time in a matter of months that an Auckland boxing gym has canned corporate fight nights, events which put inexperienced fighters into the ring often as the undercard to professional matches.


Boxing Alley gym in Parnell indefinitely cancelled corporate fights after a man was concussed for 20 minutes and hospitalised for four days in April.

Olivia Rea says her husband, a boxing novice, had only five weeks' training before stepping into the ring with an opponent he'd never met and who was allegedly 40kg heavier.

"I'm furious about it, five weeks is not enough," Olivia Rea said.

She said of her immediate reaction to seeing him go down: "Once he was hit to the head, 'oh my god, did I lose my husband? Is he going to die in my arms in the ring?'

To complicate the ongoing health risk, Joel suffered a brain injury as a child, which he did not disclose to Peach Boxing.

Footage of Joel's fight was posted to YouTube under the title "BRUTAL KO", though it is unclear if the channel that uploaded it is associated with Peach Boxing.

The clip has been viewed over 9000 times in a week.

Olivia Rea says her husband was told headgear was available for the fight but it wasn't enforced.

"He's quite a large guy and he said 'I don't think it would have fit me anyway'," she said.

Joel Rea with his wife Olivia Rea at their home in Hatfields Beach, Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell
Joel Rea with his wife Olivia Rea at their home in Hatfields Beach, Auckland. Photo / Dean Purcell

Despite running the August 25 event, and training all the fighters on the card, Isaac Peach said he regrets the lack of regulation in corporate boxing - but insists headgear is irrelevant.

"Yeah another problem with corporate boxing is it's optional. But mate, headgear's not going to stop anything, headgear's a waste of time," Peach said.

A professional boxer himself who was New Zealand super-middleweight champion, Peach says Joel Rea had 10 to 12 weeks of training at Peach Boxing and was evenly matched with his opponent.

However, Peach's attitude to headgear runs contrary to the views of Boxing NZ chairman Keith Walker.

"Definitely, that would never happen at our [Boxing NZ corporate] events because it'd be trouble. They all have to wear headguards," Walker says.

"Absolute nonsense stuff. You have to have a ruling and both boxers should be boxing with the same equipment on. The boxers should have no say whatsoever."

Walker says he has serious concerns about the safety precautions in place at corporate events generally.

"Every now and again we [Boxing NZ] have a knock out but very, very rarely," he said.

"When I hear the circumstances of these events, I hear such horrific stories so all I can say is they're not properly governed."

Walker says an inquiry into the safety of any corporate fight night where a boxer was concussed should be run by the relevant boxing association.

For Olivia Rea, the past week has destabilised her family life in Hatfields Beach and upset her children as they dealt with their father's uncharacteristic temper.

"It's hard when you have to explain to your children that when he's grumpy or tired it's not them and it's not actually him, it's just that his brain is confused about what's happening and it's trying to work itself out," Rea says.

"I am having to deal with the disappointment of children, and a husband that's tired and getting depressed."

Joel Rea has been off work since the injury, for which he spent days in Auckland City Hospital undergoing CT scans. He is to see a concussion therapist this week to assess his injury.