News / Edmonton

Not all safety policies followed in lead up to fatal fight: new report

Edmonton city council imposed a one-year moratorium on fighting events following the death of Tim Hague

Edmonton heavyweight Tim &quotThe Thrashing Machine" Hague. Edmonton city council has voted to impose a one year moratorium on any new combative sports events in the city following the June death of the boxer.

Neil Davidson / The Canadian Press

Edmonton heavyweight Tim "The Thrashing Machine" Hague. Edmonton city council has voted to impose a one year moratorium on any new combative sports events in the city following the June death of the boxer.

A report into the death of Tim Hague has found some safety policies were not followed in the June fight that led to his fatal injury.

Medical suspensions of fighters were left up to the opinion of ringside physicians who did not have access to each competitor’s recent history of knockout defeats, the report states, instead of being determined by established Edmonton Combative Sports Commission policies.

Hague had been knocked unconscious in fights prior to the June 16 boxing match against Adam Braidwood, during which he was knocked out and suffered a brain haemorrhage. He died in hospital two days later.

“Contestants should not be cleared to fight until they have provided the Executive Director or Chief Medical Officer with medical evidence they have not sustained brain trauma due to repetitive head blows,” the report states.

The 125-page report, the product of a third-party review by accounting firm MNP LLP, comes on the heels of city council imposing a year-long moratorium on combative sports.

Melanie Lubovac, President of KO Boxing, worked with Hague for 10 years and said she is in favour of improving safety but the moratorium could finish her business and all combative sports in Edmonton.

“At this point, I have a bunch of athletes that are in limbo, I have a world title event that’s in limbo,” she said.

Lubovac had an event coming up on Friday that athletes spent months training for, which has now been cancelled.

On Wednesday, Rogers Place also announced it had postponed a high-profile World Wrestling Entertainment event that was scheduled for Feb. 9.

The report makes 18 recommendations to strengthen Edmonton’s oversight of combative sports, including establishing a confidential tip line to report concerns about a fighter’s fitness to fight.

Other recommendations pertain to qualification of officials, oversight and monitoring, licensing and permitting of promoters and contestants.

It also calls for the establishment of a provincial commission to oversee combative sports in Alberta. The ECSC is currently overseen by Edmonton's city council.

Mayor Don Iveson has pushed for a provincial commission, as Alberta is the only province without one, and has said the moratorium could be lifted if the province takes action.

In an e-mail, Alberta Culture and Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda said his ministry is reviewing current practices and will examine its options to improve the safety of combative sports by working with municipalities, sports organizations, First Nations and other government ministries.

“To date, there is no consensus amongst the municipalities on the best approach when it comes to regulating these sports in Alberta,” Miranda wrote.

The ECSC will review the recommendations with city administration and a report will go before council on Jan. 17.

For now, the moratorium is in effect until Dec. 31, 2018.

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