On June 16, boxer and new Mixed Martial Arts fighter Tim Hague took a kick to the head from opponent Adam Braidwood at an MMA match in Edmonton, Alberta. The brain injury he sustained from the knock-downs would prove to be fatal and he died two days later in hospital. Hague is the 21st boxer to die in Canada and the municipal government of Edmonton is not taking it lightly.
The city announced on Friday that they will be instigating a year-long ban on combative sports while they review the role they play in the city. The municipality will not be issuing new licenses or permits for combative sporting events until December 31, 2018, pending review. The results of an inquiry into Hague’s death will be announced on Thursday and should give more insight into how much responsibility governments should take for tragedies such as this one. The real question Edmonton officials are asking is: should Hague have been permitted to fight Braidwood at all?
Hague was 34 years old and inexperienced in MMA (his record was 1-3), up against a former Edmonton Eskimo with a record of 7-1. He was out-matched and, in hindsight, Darren Metselaar of the Grande Prairie Combative Sports Commission admits Edmonton’s Commission shouldn’t have allowed it. The Thursday report should reveal more. As for the ban, officials think it is necessary to decide how the city should move forward with allowing dangerous sports.
“We argued for a long time, this isn’t the business the city should be in … and at a certain point you’ve got to go, ‘Enough,'” said Con. Ben Henderson, who thinks provinces should take on the responsibility of regulating combative sports, “This is not a permanent choice, this is a moratorium to actually allow us to have a look at what’s going on and find a better long-term solution to this.”
Promoters, trainers and fighters are outraged at the city’s decision, saying it will ruin careers and businesses. Edmonton boxer Jelena Mrdjenovich has been particularly vocal in her views. She estimates that out of her 49 fights, only three of them have not been in Edmonton and she believes the city is more than capable of regulating matches without provincial interference or banning them for a year.
For 13 years, as the 8 time WORLD champion boxer, who has ALWAYS been extremely proud to represent Edmonton, today, for the first time, I can honestly say that I am disappointed with the @CityofEdmonton #yeg #cityofchampions #boxing #shocked #disappointed
— Jelena Mrdjenovich (@JelenaBoxing) December 8, 2017
While the city has announced that no new permits or licences will be issued, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson has said that the municipality might “find a way to accommodate” events and organizations that have pending permits for events in the coming year.