An amateur boxer severely injured in a March 2003 match at the Wilma has struck out at the owner of Club Boxing, Bob LeCoure, along with the owners of the Wilma building, the Wilma Amusements Company, and the state athletics regulating board. A lawsuit filed in late November by Nate Riley and his mother, Kathy Riley, alleges the defendants neglected their duties by not having an ambulance and licensed physician on hand and by failing to provide adequate protective equipment.
Riley, a frequent Club Boxing participant who was taken to St. Patrick Hospital after blows to the head caused brain damage, is still recovering and in debt after numerous treatments.
“Nate is working hard to rehabilitate and it’s a struggle,” Riley’s attorney David Paoli says. “He’s hanging in there.”
Paoli says the protective head gear and boxing gloves that LeCoure provided didn’t meet safety requirements because they had been used to the point that they were no longer effective. The fact that LeCoure hired chiropractor Bill McNulty—not a medical doctor—as the ringside doctor also contravened state requirements, Paoli says.
But attorney Milt Datsopoulos, who’s representing LeCoure and Club Boxing, says that though unfortunate, Riley’s injuries were the outcome of an assumed risk that goes along with a brutal sport like boxing.
“Bob LeCoure made a real attempt to put on a quality and legitimate sporting event and to make it safe for the participants and the customers,” he says. “But anytime two people get in the ring and start belting each other, injuries can occur and sometimes you get a serious injury with a head blow.”
Though the gloves and gear may have been used, Datsopoulos says, they were “fully inspected and determined to be fully functional.” And he posits that the presence of a licensed chiropractor also met requirements.
Even without the lawsuit, Missoula’s Club Boxing scene has been struggling of late. LeCoure, who also runs club boxing in other venues around the state, recently told the Independent he had cancelled December’s bouts in Missoula due to dwindling attendance, but that he planned to host January fights.