That unfortunate, unnecessary death of the “Toughman” woman in Sarasota is now a national story. A key focus is the typically nominal oversight and supervision of such events, where mismatches frequently occur and unskilled fighters are often injured and sometimes killed. In fact, 12 men have died in such events since the “sport’s” inception in 1979 — three in the last nine months, according to the Associated Press. That’s why five states outlaw such “competition.”
The issue arising from the recent death of 30-year-old Stacy Young, an overweight, out-of-shape, untrained wife and mother of two daughters, is that a Toughman boxing-style competition could be held at all in this state. They’re basically illegal — but only where the participants’ payout exceeds $50. The obvious rationale: Who the hell would do it for not much more than gas money?
It’s apparently a loophole that people such as Young — and her husband, Chuck, who also did it and was knocked out in 29 seconds — can’t resist. A macho thing for guys. A what-the-hell lark for women such as Young. And for no more than $50. And the ersatz fighters keep on coming; they’ve been doing these gong-show slugfests in Sarasota for years.
Professional bouts are regulated by the Florida Boxing Commission. There must be two ringside physicians, an ambulance with emergency med techs and a ringside oxygen tank. Fighters must undergo physicals and be pre-approved by the commission.
And no one, of course, has ever accused regulated boxing of being risk free — or even sleaze free.
In Toughman competitions, participants pay an entry fee (waived in Young’s case), sign a waiver of liability, and have their heart rate and blood pressure checked (by a doctor). If they own up to having won five amateur bouts in the past five years, they’re ineligible. Head gear and kidney protectors are required. They punch with 16-ounce gloves.
The unregulated version — given its pool of unskilled, bravado “talent” — is a life-threatening — or ending — outcome waiting to happen. And that’s what happened in the ring at Sarasota’s Robarts Arena.
But while Stacy Young died under a hail of punches to the head, the outcome of that fatal bout — one witnessed by her husband and kids — isn’t over yet.
The Young family has retained a lawyer. Alas, what they really should have retained was some sense.
You can sue for just about anything in this society, but no lawyer is ultimately able to protect you from yourself.
A husband is now without his wife and two young girls are without their mom. Loopholes and poor supervision may have contributed. But stupidity caused it.