On Saturday night, professional mixed martial arts returned to Toronto, though not without its fair share of controversy. The event – an inaugural BTC Fight Promotions show - was headlined by local light-heavyweight Todd ‘The Black Hulk’ Stoute, a convicted rapist.
Several months ago, BTC Fight Promotions announced their intention to “deliver the highest quality regional pro shows” populated by homegrown talent fighting on domestic soil. The inaugural event, which took place in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, featured a rich selection of local talent, including the likes of Vladimir Kazbekov, Kyle Nelson, and Scott Hudson. However, it was the decision to feature Todd Stoute against UFC veteran Matt van Buren that caught attention, particularly given Stoute’s violent history.
Back in 2004, a 22-year-old Stoute and his friend, both intoxicated by alcohol and cocaine, committed a “misogynistic act of barbarism.” According to newspaper reports in Toronto, the two men picked up a 17-year-old prostitute with the intention of paying for her services and later stealing that money back. Once the sex worker was aware that her purse was missing, she was attacked by the two men. Stoute, who had already had sex with her, drove the van to Scarborough while his friend raped her in the back. They later proceeded to throw the badly-beaten teenage sex worker in a dumpster without her purse or cell phone.
DNA evidence on the victim later connected Stoute to the attack. The break in the case came when police were able to connect the DNA collected from under the victim’s fingernails with a sample from Stoute after an unrelated robbery conviction a month prior. The MMA fighter pleaded guilty in 2006 to assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault, and failing to comply with a probation order. He was sentenced to two years, a shortened sentence for his compliance with the case.
Following his release, Stoute took up MMA and made his professional debut in 2009. Over the following eight years, Toronto native compiled a 9-3 record that includes a four-fight win streak dating back to 2015. On paper, he was one of the most impressive light-heavyweights in Canadian MMA, which allowed most Canadian promoters to willingly overlook his horrific past. He competed for notable Canadian promotions like Z Promotions and Hard Knocks.
One promoter in particular, Toronto-based Substance Cage Combat promoter Neil Forester, even took to defending Stoute competing on his event in 2014. He later targeted me with ad hominem insults for writing about the deplorable state of his MMA event and his willingness to promote a convicted felon.
BTC 1: Genesis was promoted by Irene Starr, a veteran kickboxing promoter who is also a native of Ontario. Her promotion is yet to respond to a request for comment regarding Stoute.
While Stoute may indeed be a changed man following a short stint in jail, he showed little remorse or concern in a 2013 mini-documentary on his life. The documentary carried the synopsis: ‘How would you live your life knowing that the majority of people already have a predetermined opinion of you? That's what undefeated MMA fighter Todd Stoute has to deal with daily as the 29 year old is trying to separate his past from the man that he is today.’
“People who don’t really know me judge me on a past that they don’t even really know the full detail about,” Stoute stated. “There was a time when that got to me. But the fact is that I realize that the hate and the anger and resentment that [they] have for me, [they] have to carry that.”
Correction: This article originally named Fight Network as the producer of the mini-documentary on Todd Stoute. This has since been changed.