Tim Hague died in Edmonton, Alberta on June 18th, 2017. He was 34-years-old. His death was due to injuries sustained in a boxing match two days earlier. Earlier this month CTV News Edmonton released a three part investigative series on Hague’s death. Their report raises questions regarding whether or not Hague was eligible to compete on the night of his death. The report also expresses concerns over the sanctioning body charged with keeping Hague safe, as well as their conduct over the past several years.
The boxing match that would take Hague’s life was held on June 16th at K.O. Boxing Promotion’s KO 79 event, at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton. Hague (1-3 in boxing) faced Adam Braidwood (7-1 at the time).
Hague (who went 1-4 with the UFC between 2009 and 2011 and 21-13 overall in MMA) suffered three knockdowns in the first round of the Braidwood fight. In the second round Hague was knocked down again – a sequence that saw his head crash against the canvas. Backstage, Hague’s team decided he needed urgent medical attention. He was transported to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton and emergency surgery was performed on a brain bleed that was causing pressure on his brain. After surgery Hague remained in a coma for two days before succumbing to his injuries.
Since Hague’s death, some have questioned whether the Edmonton Sports Combative Commission – who oversaw Hague and Braidwood’s fight – made crucial errors in sanctioning the contest. Veteran MMA journalist Mike Russell investigated the incident and on July 14th he released his findings in the article Is Edmonton Combative Sports Commission executive director Pat Reid criminally responsible for Tim Hague’s Death? (via RealFightStories.com).
CTV News Edmonton picked up on Russell’s story and interviewed him a week later. Their news piece on Hague’s death, featuring Russell can be seen below:
Nearly six months later, CTV aired more segments discussing Hague’s death and the possible responsibility of the ECSC. All three parts of this CTV News Edmonton’s story can be viewed below:
Part One of the series introduces five individuals who once worked with the ESCS; former commission members Al Mackechnie, Brian Caines, and Tamara Krawchuk, as well as boxing judges David Bilocerkowec and Cameron Quwek.
Al Mackechnie tells CTV that Hague’s death was “preventable” and that, “If you go back two weeks and a month before the fight, it should never of been approved...”
Following this claim, the report details Hague’s recent activity within combat sports. Two months before Hague vs. Braidwood, Hague competed in a ‘super-boxing’ match (kickboxing with MMA style gloves) in Lethbridge, Alberta (a territory outside of the ECSC’s jurisdiction). Hague lost that April 7th fight via TKO.
Four months before that, on December 2nd, 2016, Hague fought a boxing match at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton. Hague lost that fight via first round TKO. On July 15th, 2016, Hague lost again, also via a first round TKO (head kick) at ACB 41 in Sochi, Russia.
This all amounts to three knockouts/technical knockouts suffered by Hague within nine months. CTV’s report claims that this means Hague could have been medically suspended when he fought Braidwood in June, 2017.
The news report cites ECSC policy #9: Suspensions and rest periods for combative sport contestants. Their bylaw states the following:
2. F.- If a boxer has suffered three (3) knockouts or technical knockouts from blows to the head within one (1) year period, (ringside physicians shall impose) a medical suspension for a period of not less than one (1) year.
The CTV report adds that it is unclear whether the ECSC would consider Hague’s most recent MMA knockout as triggering the year long suspension, since he was undergoing the process to be licensed as a boxer to face Braidwood.
Following the reveal of this information, the report highlights two boxing judges, David Bilocerkowec and Cameron Quwek, who spoke of how Edmonton used to have a stellar reputation for combat sports sanctioning within Canada. Quwek said that this all changed in 2009.
According to CTV, in 2008 the City of Edmonton studied the ECSC and determined the body lacked formal structure, leaving it open to personal conflicts. In wanting a more professional and standardized approach, the city sought to hire an executive director. They began the hiring process in 2009.
Edmonton’s Community Standards Branch Manager David Aiken was put in charge of the hiring process. Former ECSC member Brian Caines claims that Aiken provided him with the questions that should be asked to applicants. Caines also says that the field of applicants was extremely weak. This field included Pat Reid.
Caines claims it was obvious during Reid’s interview that he and Aiken were familiar with one another. The City of Edmonton disputed this, claiming that Aiken and Reid met for the first time at that 2009 job interview.
In this recent news report, Caines states that he and his fellow ECSC had serious reservations over Reid, due to his lack of experience within combat sports. However, Caines says Aiken overruled the committee and made sure Reid got the job as ECSC executive director.
In Part Two of the investigative report, CTV delves into incidents that have happened in Edmonton in the time since Reid was given the top job at the ECSC.
The first of these incidents was the October 7th, 2011 fight between the late Ryan Jimmo and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, for the Maximum Fighting Championships promotion. Prior to this fight, Sokoudjou was allowed to take overnight possession of the gloves that he would then use in the fight. The report states that he was allowed to do this despite the protest of three officials.
Bilocerkowec tells CTV that Sokoudjou said to him, “No, your boss told me I could take them home. I need to stretch them out, my hands don’t fit.” Bilocerkowec states that, “Nobody knows what happened to those gloves,” but that they “showed up visibly tampered with on television.” The judge says that this incident should have been enough for Reid to have been thrown out of the sport for good.
There are other claims made by the panel that they believe highlighted Reid’s haphazardness. One claim is that Reid was spotted drinking at an event, another that fighters have been flown in the day of weigh-ins with half completed medical forms and were still allowed to fight.
CTV’s report also discusses the role of tax-payer’s money in the ECSC. According to their information, the commission was entirely self funded prior to Reid’s appointment. Only after Reid became executive director did the commission begin taking tax money from Edmonton’s citizens. The report states that the ECSC collected more public funds each year (other than 2014) despite the number of events in the city steadily decreasing since 2010.
The report, and its panel, highlight that, since the city now hosts around 8 shows a year, and that the rising tax payer money pays Reid’s salary, that Reid might now be higher paid than Edmonton’s mayor Don Iveson.
The City of Edmonton gave several responses to CTV in relation to questions posed by their report. One of the statements from the city reads:
“The Executive Director does not have the final say over the decisions within the mandate of the ECSC. However, the Executive Director does have discretion over the decisions...
“The allegations referenced are not consistent with the governance model now in place.”
Regarding Sokoudjou’s gloves, the city states:
“This was reviewed and we are satisfied that the gloves used were inspected and approved for use.”
And regarding Reid’s alleged drinking at MMA/boxing events, the city says:
“This complaint has been raised before and the City took appropriate steps in response. We are not prepared to respond further.”
In the third and final part of the report, CTV addresses the aftermath of Hague’s death. It states that, two months after Hague’s passing, no official investigation had been announced.
The outlet compares this to the death of Rondel Clark. Clark died tragically after an MMA fight in August, while competing on a card in Plymouth, Massachusetts. CTV points out that, on the same day Clark’s death was announced, the Plymouth County District Attorney, in collaboration with the State Police, Plymouth County Police, and the local athletic commission, stated that they were launching an investigation.
CTV claims that Pat Reid was eventually removed as executive director of the ECSC, in the wake of Hague’s death. This information coming from Edmonton’s Deputy Director Rob Smyth, who told the outlet that Reid had been removed due to an ongoing review of the situation. Smyth added that David Aiken (who hired Reid) has been made interim executive director. And that Reid was still working at the ECSC; in support of Aiken.
In August, the City of Edmonton announced that a third party would review the ECSC’s protocols in connection to the death of Hague. That third party is Meyers Norris Penny (MNP), a chartered accountancy and business advisory firm. CTV’s panel states that they believe MNP had zero experience in combat sports at the time of their appointment.
Despite being told that Pat Reid was removed from his role as executive director, CTV’s information calls into question whether or not this is truly the case. They note the September 9th UFC 215 fight card at Rogers Place, in Edmonton. There, Reid can be seen acting in the role of commissioner during the official weigh-in process.
The MMA Fighting video below shows Reid checking the scales, while Aiken stands to the side, often with his back to the wall.
The CTV report also highlights the fight between Rick Glenn and Gavin Tucker on that UFC card. The fight saw Glenn deliver an incredible amount of punishment to Tucker, without the fight being called off by referee Kyle Cardinal. Glenn won the fight by unanimous decision (30-25, 30-24 29-27). Tucker suffered four broken bones in his face.
CTV’s panel of former ECSC members and boxing judges claim that Cardinal is one of Reid’s “favorite” referees. Panel member Krawchuk also states that Cardinal had been given boxing judging assignments by Reid despite having no experience in that role.
Cardinal’s actions during Glenn vs. Tucker are reportedly being reviewed by the ECSC. The overall review of the ECSC in relation to Tim Hague’s death is expected sometime this fall. Originally the MNP review was scheduled for an August release, only to be pushed back until sometime before December 21st, according to CTV.
The end of the CTV’s three-part report, raises the case of boxer Magomed Abdusalamov. This year he was awarded a $22 million settlement from the New York State Athletic Commission. Abdusalamov suffered brain damage after a bout at Madison Square Garden on November 2nd, 2013. Abdusalamov had complained that improper care from NYSAC resulted in a delayed diagnosis of a developing blood clot on his brain, which left him in a coma for weeks.
CTV claims that Hague’s family are waiting for the MNP review to be released before they decide what course of action to take.