If Pat Reid did his job Tim Hague would still be alive.
Had Reid, whose sole job it is to enforce the City of Edmonton’s combat sports bylaws and policies followed his own governing statutes, Hague would not have been granted a licence to compete in the June 16 boxing bout that inevitably rendered him brain dead and deceased within two days of the knockout loss.
According to evidence RealfightStories.com has compiled, the Executive Director of the Edmonton Combat Sports Commission ignored as many as six mandatory medical suspensions he was required to impose on Hague the past two years of the Boyle, Alberta native’s combat sports career and life. The oversight meant that Hague was allowed to fight four times — twice in Edmonton and twice in neighboring municipal Alberta jurisdictions, Grande Prairie, and Lethbridge — when he should have been ineligible to fight.
As his governing bylaw is written, Reid and Reid alone has the final say on whether or not a fighter’s license is granted or suspended.
City of Edmonton Combative Sports Bylaw 15594 Part IV section 16 reads:
The Executive Director may revoke, suspend, refuse to issue or renew, or imposition of conditions on any Licence or Event Permit if, in the opinion of the Executive Director, it is in the public interest to do so.
Three specific clauses of Part V, section 28 of the City of Edmonton Combative Sports Bylaw 15638 clarify the Executive Director’s licensing and suspension powers in more detail, stating that Reid has control over:
(e) making all licensing and permitting decisions for the Commission, including requiring the payment of deposits and imposition of such other conditions as the Executive Director deems appropriate;
(h) supervising all aspects of Events and making all Commission decisions during an Event;
(i) making appropriate investigations and taking necessary steps to ensure compliance with, and enforcement of, the provisions of this bylaw and the Combative Sports Bylaw;
Part V also contains a curious set of clauses that describe Reid’s organizational power and subservience to City administration.
Section 27 states that:
The Executive Director will take direction from the Commission with respect to matters within its mandate, but will be accountable to and under the supervision of the City Manager.
Section 25 seems to infer that the Executive Director has been given the decision-making power of the City Manager, which is odd, considering the clause above states that the City Manager is who he is to be accountable to and under the supervision of. This could come into play if a civil suit is launched by Hague’s family.
The Executive Director will be the City Manager. (S.6, Bylaw 17681, November 29, 2016)
This absolute power has also heaped absolute responsibility onto Reid, and it’s time for him and his enablers in the administration of the City of Edmonton to answer to and atone for his multiple egregious safety oversights he’s been allowed to continually make over the past eight years with absolute impunity.
NUMBERS DON’T LIE
The chart below lists all of Hague’s fights, results, the actual suspensions levied, and the mandatory Edmonton medical suspensions he should have been sanctioned with by Reid and the ECSC in the 24 months prior to his death if Reid had followed the correct statutes.
While comparing Hague’s official Association of Boxing Commissions mixed martial arts database page to his Sherdog.com Fight Finder record I noticed something odd.
Two of the bouts listed on the latter did not appear on the certified MMA database, which ABC member commissions are mandated to use when logging and checking results and suspensions.
Maintained by MixedMartialArts.com founder Kirik Jenness, a longtime combat sports referee and judge in his own right, the ABC MMA database is the only MMA results and suspension record service officially recognized by the ABC.
The accuracy and completeness of these records are of the utmost importance, as, combined with Fight Fax, the ABC’s official boxing database record service, they assist commissions in making better-informed decisions about fighters abilities and their fitness to compete.
These databases are sort of like fighter CarFax reports that other commissions who are unfamiliar with a fighter’s fight history can utilize to decide whether or not to license an applicant. Whereas CarFax reports list the accident history and mileage of a car, the Fight Fax and MMA database records list the fighter’s medical suspensions and fight history, including rounds of action. All of these facts help to paint a more accurate picture for the commission and its medical staff with regards to a fighter’s fitness to be licensed.
John Stiller is the Chief Physician and Neurologist with the Maryland State Athletic Commission, the Director of Neurology Service at St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., a contributing member of Medical Advisory Board of the Retired Boxers Foundation and a member in good standing with the Association of Ringside Physicians. Stiller didn’t beat around the bush when asked by realfightstories.com to analyze the complete records above for his opinion on whether or not he would have recommended his commission grant Hague a license to fight in his jurisdiction.
“Looking at [Hague’s] recent record and an apparent decline in his abilities, coupled with multiple recent KO’s, he probably should have been advised [by ECSC medical staff] to retire and avoid any sports and/or occupations with significant risk of further brain trauma of any sort,” Stiller stated via email.
Dr. Helen Clausen is a neuro psychologist from Australia and is an invited member of the World Boxing Council’s Medical Advisory Board. The bulk of Clausen’s most recent research focuses on neuro function and how it is affected by head trauma and concussions in boxers and Australian Football players.
Clausen says she’s surprised that the Edmonton commission would have sanctioned the fatal bout, especially without further brain imaging if it wasn’t done prior.
“There is a lot of variability in concussions. You can have quick [healing] ones, slow [healing] ones, but when you start having slow, slow, slow, slow recovery, or a decline in performance they’ve got to be looked. The commission or the medical staff of the commission should be telling the commission, ‘This guy has lost however many fights by head trauma — either by KO or TKO, and he needs to be scanned and he needs to be checked by a neurologist at a minimum,'” Clausen stresses. “You have to be very careful. There is no magic [concussion] number, but I think it’s about the due diligence. What’s the boxer’s record? Has he been suspended for the mandatory periods of time? Is his performance dropping off? Clearly, this fighter started off winning when you look at his complete record, but if you look at his recent history his performance had really declined. These are all red flags that need to be looked at when making an informed decision on licensing a fighter.”
Clausen says that without accurate records it’s very difficult, if not impossible for medical staff to properly ascertain if a fighter should be cleared to fight in their respective jurisdictions, which is why it’s so important that databases like the ABC’s are treated seriously and double-checked for accuracy.
When in doubt, especially when it comes to brain trauma, Clausen says it’s best to err on the side of caution and order the fighter to have a new neurological scan done. She points out that as important as the scan is the type of brain imaging used for each specific situation, which is something that an untrained ringside physician wouldn’t know.
“In Australia, you’ve got to have an MRI every three years when you register for a license. A CT scan is really good. When you’re looking for blood post-fight, that’s the best tool,” Clausen explains. “But an MRI is better for looking at little old traumas of the brain. Not acute blood, but old spots that indicate trauma where there has been blood or injury so we can get a better understanding of what’s been going on in the particular fighter’s brain over a period of time.”
SERIOUS BYLAW BREACH
Edmonton, as an associate ABC member commission and Reid as its executive director, both have access to both the boxing and MMA record services. Reid has taken seminars with the ABC on how to submit and retrieve records and is mandated by one of his two governing Edmonton combat sports bylaws to report all results and suspensions within two City of Edmonton business days.
Edmonton Combative Sports bylaw 15594, section 15 requires that:
The Executive Director must forward the results of an Event, including all medical suspensions issued to Contestants, to the relevant governing bodies and other commissions regulating Combative Sports not more than two business days after the Event.
(S.28, Bylaw 17680, November 29, 2016)
396 business days have passed in Edmonton since Unified MMA 25 and it’s been 343 business days since Unified MMA 26.
According to Kirik Jenness, the reason why those two events’ results aren’t listed on Hague’s official MMA database record is simple: he never received the results from Reid.
Re: Tim Hague
We never received results for these two events:
Any questions or concerns what so ever, please let me know!
When reached for comment by RealFightStories.com, Unified MMA owner Sunny Sareen said he will be looking into the allegations and if they prove to be true, he will work with any affected fighters to remedy the situation.
“Of course it’s concerning if it’s true. Our number one concern is fighter safety. What you are telling me is news to me,” Sareen explained when contacted by telephone Thursday afternoon. “I’m going to have to look into things for myself to see what’s going on, but yes, I’m concerned if this is true.”
If Reid followed Edmonton Combative Sports Policy #9: Suspensions and Rest Periods for Combative Sport Contestants, Hague should have been handed an indefinite suspension pending medical clearance on his possible broken foot, with a minimum of 60 days for his TKO loss to Tony Lopez on December 18, 2015, since it was his second knockout/technical knockout within a one-year span.
The ECSC’s ringside physician shall impose medical suspensions or mandatory rest periods of any duration, for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) or MUAYTHAI contestants, based on post-fight medical evaluations and the following considerations: a. Seven (7) day medical suspension for an MMA or Muaythai contestant who has not suffered any noticeable physical injury and increasinga. Seven (7) day medical suspension for an MMA or Muaythai contestant who has not suffered any noticeable physical injury and increasing time for additional damage or suspected injury, depending on the post-fight medical evaluation of the fighter by the ringside physician.b. If a contestant has been knocked out or has incurred a technical knockout from blows to the head, a medical suspension for a period of not less than thirty (30) days.c. If an MMA or Muaythai contestant has been knocked out a two (2) consecutive times or has incurred two (2) successive technical knockouts from blows to the head, after the second knockout, a medical suspension for a period of not less than sixty (60) days.d. If an MMA or Muaythai contestant has been knocked out three (3) times or has incurred three (3) technical knockouts from blows to the head, after the third knockout, a medical suspension for a period of not less than ninety (90) days.
From: Darren Metselaar <email@example.com>
Date: 03-08-2016 7:03 AM AM (GMT-07:00)
To: Pat Reid <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Time Hague Suspension
Good morning Pat,
Date: 03-08-2016 7:20 AM (GMT-07:00)
To: Darren Metselaar <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Time Hague Suspension
In the vast majority of cases combatants in our sport are suspended for periods of 14 days up to 12 months after competing in an event. This is to protect the safety of the fighter, or ensure that the fighter(s) are competitive.
On January 8, 2010 Mr. Reid sanctioned a fight between Adam Trupish and Etianne Whitaker. Whitaker, without throwing a punch, managed to survive for a total of 39 seconds. The problem is Whitaker was under suspension by the Pennsylvania Boxing Commission. No one is allowed to fight in Edmonton if they are suspended by another Commission. Mr. Reid did not do his homework.
It is the Executive Director’s duty to ensure that there are no fighters under suspension. Furthermore, Mr. Reid, and the Commission failed to check if Whitaker even had a Federal ID number. It is mandatory, throughout North America that any American fighter must have a Federal ID number. The Federal ID number is to make sure that the fighter in question is in fact who he says he is, and is still in good standing. Without a Federal ID number the dishwasher from Caesars Palace could be fighting Adam Trupish.
Does Mr. Reid even know what a Federal ID number is? The Federal ID system introduced by Senator John McCain was put in place to not only protect the fighters, but as well to protect the general public from scams. In failing to do his due diligence Mr. Reid has potentially put the fighter’s safety in jeopardy. But how would Mr. Reid know this? He has no experience.
Another item of concern for the promoters (who also owned The Fight Club MMA promotion at the time) included in their complaint was that Reid arbitrarily and unsafely reduced the minimum mandatory suspension time from 14 to 7 days without any industry consultation.
We understand that Mr. Reid reduced the minimum suspension from 14 days to 7 days. This could have certain ramifications for the safety of the fighters. Did Mr. Reid make this decision on his own? Does not the Commission make such serious decisions regarding medical issues and the safety of the fighters? Does Mr. Reid have a medical background? Most importantly does not the Executive Director implement decisions made by the Commission as a whole? He is not to act alone. This is very concerning.
As Dr. Clausen points out that shortening rest periods can become a slippery slope.
Commissions, she says, should be diligent with research record keeping and should monitor all variables like how many headshots the fighter took and how much ring/cage time have they logged to truly decide how much rest is enough for each case, even for those who won their fights and weren’t knocked out.
“I know for a fact from my data, we had a whole series of boxers who either won or lost but not by TKO or KO and the fight, but more so the sparring cause changes in their reaction time that I could measure for up to a month. The correlation of the degree of impairment or slowing of their reaction time was related to the intensity and length of their sparring, not the fight,” Clausen points out. “I would say that if they’ve had a head trauma in MMA or boxing they should not spar for at least three weeks. I have the data that shows that’s the minimum, but you have to also weigh the results of the neurological and cognitive testing as well as their brain scans. You can’t treat every case the same because they aren’t the same. None of these guys were knocked out and a lot of them won their fights, but they suffered depreciated brain function as a result of the trauma they took in sparring and the fight. That has to be monitored and treated properly before that fighter even goes back to the gym to spar.”
Rather than heed Metselaar’s advice, Hague once again climbed back into the ring in Russia three months after the Starnes fight on July 15, 2016, and was knocked out in the first round via head kick and punches by Michal Andryszak. The bout was his second “non-sanctioned fight,” meaning not recognized by the ABC because it wasn’t regulated by a member commission with whom they can check on the legitimacy of the medical amenities and fight license requirements with.
If a fighter competes in an unsanctioned event, there is no way for other Commissions to know the extent of the fighter’s injuries, the length of the normal post-fight medical suspension, or whether a medical suspension was assigned at all. A fighter who has competed in an unsanctioned event could shortly thereafter, show up wishing to fight at a duly sanctioned event, and thereby put the subsequent Commission at risk. The subsequent Commission would not be aware if that fighter had sustained some sort of injury in the previous unsanctioned event.Consequently, the ECSC will consider every fighter/contestant who has competed in an unsanctioned event outside of the Edmonton jurisdiction, as being under an automatic ninety (90) day “medical risk” suspension, before they can be licensed to compete in a subsequent professional combative sports event in the Edmonton jurisdiction.
The ECSC’s ringside physician shall impose medical suspensions for BOXERS for at least the following minimum periods:a. Thirty (30) day medical suspension, for boxers who have actually completed a contest of ten (10) rounds or more.b. Twenty-one (21) day medical suspension, for boxers who have actually completed a contest of six (6) to nine (9) rounds.c. Fourteen (14) day medical suspension, or less if decided by the designated event medical advisor or ringside physician, for boxers who have actually completed a contest of one (1) to five (5) rounds.d. If a boxer has been knocked out or has incurred a technical knockout from blows to the head, a medical suspension for a period of not less than sixty (60) days.e. If a boxer has suffered two (2) knockouts or technical knockouts from blows to the head within a six (6) month period, a medical suspension for a period of not less than one hundred and eighty (180) days.f. If a boxer has suffered three (3) knockouts or technical knockouts from blows to the head within a one (1) year period, a medical suspension for a period of not less than one (1) year.g. If a boxer has suffered a technical knockout due to cuts, a medical suspension for a period of not less than thirty (30) days.
Once again, Reid did not levy or register the suspension and Hague was allowed to compete while he should have been off on mandatory neurological rest, this time in Lethbridge, Alberta, where he lost by first round TKO to Jared Kilkenny. During his post-fight interview Hague announced that he was retiring as he just couldn’t put his grade 4 students through seeing him take the amount of damage he was taking any longer.
What’s interesting is that according to Kilkenny’s ABC MMA database page he was indefinitely suspended from 2011 to March 2017 for a badly broken arm he incurred while fighting in Lethbridge. A note on Kilkenny’s ABC database page said that the suspension could only be lifted by the issuing commission, pending suitable doctor clearance accepted at the discretion of the Lethbridge commission. The official result from his bout with Hague wasn’t listed, as it was a special rules “no ground fighting” match contested with MMA gloves. In essence, it was a stand-up only MMA bout. The reason for the unique ruleset was Hague was still under exclusive MMA contract in Russia. Calling the fight “Superboxing” was simply a loophole to allow him to get around the contract. For all intents and purposes this was an MMA bout without submissions or ground fighting allowed.
The results for the Rumble in the Cage show, which was promoted by UFC fighter Jordan Mein’s father, longtime coach and fighter Lee Mein (who also fought in a Superboxing match in the main event), were submitted by Lethbridge Executive Director Bernie Pohl the night of the event. The results submitted for the four Superboxing fighters’ bouts on the card, which cannot be listed on the MMA database since “Superboxing” is not technically MMA as defined by the Unified Rules, were all listed as “TBD” or “to be decided,” but all of their medical suspensions were logged “to ensure fighter safety,” according to Jenness. Hague’s 60-day mandatory rest period was issued per the rules of Lethbridge and was logged the day after the bout.
When asked via email if he would have issued Hague a license if he knew he was under a one-year mandatory medical suspension, Pohl responded with the following:
“I will honestly state that if I were able to find a one-year administrative suspension on the ABC website, Tim Hague would not have been licensed to fight in Lethbridge in April,” Pohl wrote.
Mein, who said he would never let a fighter compete for him who was suspended by any commission echoed Pohl’s sentiments in a written statement he sent Realfightstories.com.