The City of Edmonton said a third-party review will be done to look into Friday’s boxing match between former UFC fighter Tim Hague and former Edmonton Eskimo Adam Braidwood.
Hague died Sunday afternoon after two days in hospital in critical condition surrounded by family. Hague lost the KO Boxing bout at the Shaw Conference Centre by a knockout.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and wish to express our deepest condolences to Tim’s family and friends and the many students he taught,” deputy city manager Rob Smyth said.
The city oversees the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission.
Smyth said Monday the commission always does internal post-fight reviews, but in some cases, an independent review is ordered.
“We want to retain — we don’t know who or how yet — a third party to do a comprehensive review and our thinking is… that review will have to get information from all of the different individuals who were part of organizing the event.”
He said it will include everyone involved, such as promoters, physicians, referees and inspectors.
“We want to understand what happened and determine if there’s anything we need to do better,” Smyth said.
No timeline for the reviews was given. Smyth said they would take as long as required.
“We want to make sure our policies and procedures are responsive to the community and making sure these events are absolutely as safe as they can be.”
“Was this just a tragic event or are there lessons we can learn?”
Smyth added there are currently no plans to cancel any upcoming events.
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Hague’s death came less than a month after boxer David Whittom went into a coma with bleeding on the brain after knockout loss in Fredericton, N.B. The two cases have raised calls for an investigation into ways to improve the safety of fighters in boxing and MMA.
“I realized after the first round, there was no chance,” said sports journalist John Short, who was at Friday’s match. “I think the bout should have been stopped then. But again, the referee had to ask the fighter and had seen him react after knockdowns, and he reacted properly.”
“I don’t know that there’s ever a solution that it will never happen again because it is the fight game and people get hit on the head. When you get hit on the head, you suffer a price,” Short said.
In a statement Monday, KO Boxing Promotions said it is “deeply saddened” by Hague’s death. The statement said the combative sport community in Edmonton is small and extremely close and described Hague as “one of their most committed and determined members.”
“I have had a relationship with Tim for over a decade through the sport of boxing and MMA,” promoter Mel Lubovac said. “He was more than a boxer; he was a friend. I am deeply saddened by the news of his passing. I cannot express how heavy my heart is. I would like to send my deepest condolences to his family and friends. We have lost a valuable member of our family. He will be missed and he will forever be in my heart.
“This is just extremely heartbreaking,” Lubovac said.
Scroll down to read the full statement from KO Boxing Promotions.
Meanwhile, Hague’s students are grieving their beloved teacher. On Monday, École Bellevue School in Beaumont posted a short message on its website.
“It is with deep sorrow that we must inform our Black Gold family that Mr. Tim Hague, a beloved teacher and staff member at École Bellevue School, has passed away. This is a tragedy for everyone – his family, his friends and the school community that he was such an important part of.
“Supports have been put in place to help the school family during this difficult time.
“We encourage everyone to remember the wonderful qualities Tim possessed,” the statement read.
“We know that the community will join the division and École Bellevue School in conveying our deepest sorrow and most sincere condolences to all of Tim’s family, friends, staff and students.”
Friends say Hague’s nine-year-old son Brady was a huge motivation for him.
“He was a great dad,” friend and corner man Victor Valimaki said. “That’s what people will point out about him… I’m devastated for his son Brady. I couldn’t even imagine what the family’s going to go through.”
Hague’s family has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for funeral expenses and other related costs. After just 10 hours, the Alberta community donated more than $12,000.
“One of the best guys anyone could have ever known,” one message read. “Rest in peace.”
“RIP Tim. Thank you for being a wonderful and dedicated teacher. We will miss you. You will always have a special place in our family,” another message read.
Hague was originally from Boyle and had a mixed martial arts record of 21-13. He eventually fought in the UFC. In 2016, after 10 years in the octagon professionally, the 6’4″, 265-lb. Albertan set his sights on the boxing ring.
The 34-year-old was also a coach at the UFC Gym in Sherwood Park.
— With a file from The Canadian Press