Establishing a provincial commission to oversee combative sports in Alberta is just one of 18 recommendations made in a report into boxer Tim Hague‘s death.
The third-party report was released on Thursday, six months after Hague’s death. Hague, a UFC fighter and boxer, died on June 18, two days after a KO Boxing event at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Questions were raised immediately afterwards about why Hague, 34, was allowed into the ring — because of his previous fight history, which resulted in concussions.
The independent review was not meant to determine fault. It delved into the events surrounding Hague’s death, making recommendations to strengthen the oversight of combative sports and improve fighter safety in future sports events in Edmonton.
The report made 18 recommendations around medical suspensions, the qualifications of officials, oversight and monitoring, as well as licensing and permitting of promoters and contestants.
MNP, the advisory firm that conducted the review, said that while the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission’s policies are generally aligned with the practices of other similar organizations, it “does appear that certain ECSC policies related to medical suspensions were not followed.”
The report also raised questions about fighters participating in unsanctioned events.
After Hague’s death, his family obtained a lawyer. Norm Assiff said the biggest question Hague’s family has is why the fight was allowed to take place.
“We have our own independent investigation going on right now and there’s certain facts that we don’t know the answer to yet,” Assiff said.
“We just want to make sure this doesn’t happen again, so, we strongly anticipate that there will be some legal action taken.”
Mayor Don Iveson said council takes the recommendations very seriously, particularly the call for a provincial combative sports commissions.
“My expectation is that council will discuss the recommendations of this report in public at the Community and Public Services Committee meeting on Jan. 15, 2018. The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, the combative sports community and members of the public will be welcome to speak at that meeting. Safety is our No. 1 priority and will remain at the heart of any decision we make.”
Iveson added that everyone needs to remember that a young man lost his life.
“My heart goes out to the Hague family as they also review this report. I know nothing can bring Tim back to them but what we can do is ensure we improve policies and practices to prevent similar tragedies.”
The ECSC said in a media release it received the report on Thursday and looks forward to reviewing its findings and recommendations.
“From the outset, the commission has taken this issue very seriously and is committed to working together with city council and the city administration to take appropriate action based on the recommendations,” the statement said, adding the commission will be better suited to comment on the report after its next meeting, on Monday.
A moratorium on combative sports events in Edmonton was put in place last Friday. It will remain in place until Dec. 31, 2018, or until city council provides further direction.
The move was controversial, with some in the industry speaking out against the moratorium.
Over the weekend, Mayor Don Iveson said events that were planned but didn’t have a licence could still go forward.
City administration and the ECSC will review the recommendations prior to the January meeting.
Watch below: Ongoing coverage of Tim Hague’s death and combative sporting in Edmonton