The City of Edmonton has issued a temporary one-year ban on new licenses and event permits for combative sports, upsetting some people who work in the fighting industry.
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Councillors made the decision after receiving an in-camera update on an independent review into the death of Tim Hague, who died in a boxing match in the city in June.
Hague, a 34-year-old teacher turned mixed martial artist, was injured on June 16 in a heavyweight boxing match against former Edmonton Eskimo Adam Braidwood.
The fight lasted two rounds and ended in a knockout. Hague left the ring under his own power but was rushed to the hospital where he was treated for a brain injury and later died.
CTV Edmonton reports that Hague suffered three knockouts within nine months before his the match against Braidwood, raising questions about whether he should have been allowed to fight.
On Friday night, Braidwood fought in and won what could be Edmonton’s last public boxing match for more than a year.
Jelena Mrdjenovich, a mixed martial artist, entered the ring at the match to denounce the city’s decision.
MMA promoter Sunny Sareen, who was planning an event for next Friday, said he was blindsided by council’s decision. “It’s going to push these fights underground,” he said.
Mitch Clarke, an Edmonton mixed martial artist, said he’s disappointed and a little bit angered by the decision, which he says will affect a lot of people unnecessarily.
“This decision could effectively kill (mixed martial arts) and combat sports in Edmonton,” he said. “We used to be one of the biggest hubs for (mixed martial arts), for pro combat sports in the world besides Vegas and now it's just gone down the tube,” he added.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said that although he understands peoples’ livelihoods may be affected, the city “felt it was appropriate to pump the brakes on this industry and these events.”
“Doesn’t mean we won’t allow them on the future,” Iveson added.
The mayor said the “fighting industry needs to join the city in calling for the province to regulate the industry the same way it’s regulated in every other part of the country.”
After Hague’s death in June, his brother Ian released a statement at the time saying that “Tim knew the risks of the sport,” and that “no one in our family blames Adam (Braidwood) for what happened.”
Braidwood, meanwhile, called him “a kind hearted warrior man,” who would “do anything for you.”
The combative sports ban came into effect Saturday and will remain in place until Dec. 31, 2018, or until council decides otherwise.
The moratorium includes sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts.
The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission issued a statement saying they will “continue our work as a commission, using this time to move forward with the comprehensive policy review that had already been underway.”
“We will work with city Administration to advise council on a future path at the end of the moratorium,” the ECSC adds.
Edmonton councillors also passed a motion Friday stating that the report into Hague’s death will be released to the Hague family, council and the public no later than December 14.
With reports from CTV Edmonton