The success of the initial tourney of the newly-constituted Waihemo Waikouaiti Boxing and Wrestling Association, held last week, was completely marred by its tragic ending. The final bout of the night was being fought by two middleweights, R. McCallum and E. O’Connell, and just before the gong at the close of the second round the latter connected with a right to the chin that caused his opponent to fall and strike the back of his head heavily on the floor. It was apparent that the lad was seriously injured, and although medical assistance was immediately available, he sank rapidly and died. “Ronny”, who was a pupil of Archie Leckie’s, was extremely popular in the district and besides showing promise as a boxer, was a capable wrestler, while as a footballer, he represented Eastern Districts among the forwards. All the arrangements in connection with the tourney were in order and the boxing throughout was very clean, Jack Kilmartin, who refereed, remarking on the obedience to the rules shown by the boys while they were in the ring.
After an exhaustive Coronial inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Ronald McCallum, who died as the result of injuries received while taking part in the recent tournament at Palmerston South, a verdict was returned to the effect that deceased died at Palmerston on September 19 from a fracture of the base of the skull, caused by accidentally falling during a boxing bout. Unfortunately, some irresponsible individuals had told deceased’s father, who was not at the tournament, that the fatal blow had been delivered when deceased was not on his feet. This unjustified assertion not only tended to increase the burden of grief placed on deceased’s relatives, but was a grave injustice to young O’Connell, the other contestant of the bout. However, after hearing the evidence of the officials, Mr. McCallum, through his solicitor, stated that he was satisfied that his son had had a fair deal and he did not wish to blame anyone.
Ned never fought again.