A memorial service was held in the Spanish capital of Madrid on Thursday (23 February) for 24-year-old Juan Rubio Melero, the Spanish middleweight boxer, who died on Wednesday (22 February), four days after being knocked out in a title fight.
A memorial service was held in the Spanish capital of Madrid on Thursday (23 February) for 24-year-old Juan Rubio Melero, the Spanish middleweight boxer, who died on Wednesday (22 February), four days after being knocked out in a title fight. Melero's death has brought strong criticism from anti-boxing factions, who want the sport banned.
SYNOPSIS: Melero's brothers were among the mourners at the service. Melero had been taken to hospital in a coma after his title fight against Spanish middleweight champion Francisco Rodriguez in Madrid on February 17th. He underwent an emergency operation to remove a cerebral blockage, but never recovered consciousness and was said to have died of heart failure. Since the fight a bitter row has broken out in Spain over the alleged lack of medical equipment at Madrid's Sports Palace.
Melero's father was questioned by newsmen about his son's death. It has been alleged that the Sports Palace had not provided even basic medical facilities and that there had been a long wait for an ambulance.
In a statement to newsmen Kid Tunero, the former Cuban fighter, who over the years has looked after many of Spain's top boxers spoke out in defence of the sport.
He told boxing's critics that it was wrong to condemn the sport because of what had happened. It was not boxing's fault.
Melero was from Almeria in the south of the country. He began boxing as an amateur, when he was 14 and went on to become amateur welterweight champion of Andalusia. He also boxed for the Spanish national side before turning professional two years ago. Before his fatal encounter with Rodriguez he had seven fights, winning six of them. Spanish promoter Martin Berrocal said his death was a hard blow for boxing.