WA: Death of teen muay thai fighter after ‘weight cutting’ prompts warning to combat sports

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The death of an 18-year-old Muay Thai fighter from ‘weight cutting’ has prompted a coroner to urge combat sports to overhaul how they indirectly incentivize such dangerous practices.

Jessica Lindsay from Perth collapsed outside of a training facility in November 2017 after making extreme efforts to get down to a lower weight bracket for a fight, and  she died four days later.

The inquest into her death was told it was due to ‘weight cutting’ techniques she was using before a weigh-in for an amateur fight, the ABC reported. 

Sarah Linton, the coroner, said Ms Lindsay stopped drinking water, sat in a sauna and hot cars and ran in a sweat suit despite 30C heat. 

Ms Lindsay’s mother Sharron revealed earlier during the inquest her daughter also cut her diet to just brown rice, chicken and broccoli.  

Jessica Lindsay collapsed outside of a training studio in November 2017 - she died four days later

Jessica Lindsay collapsed outside of a training studio in November 2017 – she died four days later

‘She just wanted it to be done…she wanted it to stop but she wouldn’t stop until the weight was gone,’ the mother told the inquest.

She said her daughter just didn’t think it was OK to stop. 

Ms Linton said further regulation by the Combat Sports Commission WA was needed in regards to monitoring fighters’ training methods, as it was clear Ms Lindsay mistakenly thought she could control her extreme methods. 

‘She adhered to the general belief in the sport that it is disrespectful to an opponent to fail to make weight,’ Ms Linton said.

‘That is why it is so important to change the culture of the sport to remove the emphasis on extreme weight cutting as a normal part of the process.’ 

The commission has made some changes to their rules since Ms Lindsay’s death.

In 2018, they released a draft that banned the use of ‘artificial means to dehydrate’ such as saunas and sweat suits. 

The new rules would also allow contestants only one chance to weigh in, rather than allowing a second chance when fighters would use every method possible to rapidly shed weight.

However during the inquest Bob Kucera, the commission’s chair, admitted there were no inspectors who could monitor whether fighters were adhering to these new rules.  

Ms Linton said she wants it to become unacceptable to turn a blind eye to these practices. 

She said she acknowledges the commission is in the process of implementing strategies to ban dehydration before a fight.

However she stressed that nothing could be achieved without legislation – and she urged Sport and Recreation Minister Mick Murray to extend the commission’s powers.

Sarah Linton, the coroner, said further regulation by the Combat Sports Commission WA was needed in regards to training. Pictured: Jessica, right, with her mother Sharron, centre, and sister Grace, left

Sarah Linton, the coroner, said further regulation by the Combat Sports Commission WA was needed in regards to training. Pictured: Jessica, right, with her mother Sharron, centre, and sister Grace, left

She also encouraged the state government to provide the funding so the commission could enforce these rules. 

Ms Linton recommended that the  Combat Sports Commission WA take a greater role in overseeing athletes’ training regimes.

She also suggested competitors weigh in seven days before a fight, allowing them to recover from intensive training before their competitive bouts. 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Combat Sports Commission WA for comment. 

WHAT IS WEIGHT-CUTTING? 

Weight-cutting is the practice of fast weightloss prior to a sporting competition. 

It most frequently happens in order to qualify for a lower (usually in, where weight is a significant advantage) or in sports where it is advantageous to weigh as little as possible (most notably sports). 

There are two types of weight cutting: one method is to lose weight in the form of fat and muscle in the weeks prior to an event; the other is to lose weight in the form of water in the final days before competition. 

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