Veteran Langley trainer weighs in on boxing death

Dave Allison says mixing MMA and boxing is dangerous

You could hear, almost feel, the passion in Dave Allison’s voice over the phone.

The veteran boxing trainer, who has been involved in the ‘Sweet Science’ for decades, didn’t hold back when speaking about the death of Tim Hague, who died two days after losing to Adam Braidwood in a pro heavyweight bout June 16 in Edmonton.

After getting knocked out, Hague walked out of the ring under his own power.

Soon after, however, Hague was admitted to the hospital, where he died June 18.

Allison said this is a tragedy that could have easily been avoided, and lays the blame squarely on what he calls “homogenizing” mixed martial arts (MMA) with boxing.

They are completely different sports, noted Allison, who says it’s dangerous for an athlete who trains primarily in MMA to believe he can go into the ring and compete against an opponent whose sole focus is boxing.

“The biggest problem, here, is MMA,” said Allison, who is organizing the the Clash at the Cascades boxing card tonight (July 14) at the Coast Hotel in downtown Langley (see preview story on page 23). “There is a huge dysfunction in combative sports right now, with MMA athletes assuming they can box. They are not training properly and they don’t understand the sport, and have coaches who don’t understand the sport.”

(Braidwood, who once fought out of the Port Kells Boxing Club, had appeared in the amateur portion of past Clash at the Cascades shows. Braidwood now sports an 8-1-0 pro record, has not lost since 2009, and seven of his eight wins have come via knockout or technical knockout).

This is taking nothing away from MMA, Allison stressed, because if the tables were turned and if a pure boxer was involved an MMA match, a fighter trained in mixed martial arts could take a boxer down to the mat and used judo, jiu jitsu, or wrestling.

In this scenario that, too, would be a mismatch.

Allison maintained that, despite last month’s tragedy, boxing is a very safe sport.

“We have a great track record of safety,” Allison said. “Our organization, Combsport, has been operating…, I think we’re going into year No. 9, now, and we’ve never had an accident, an injury… anything. If boxers are properly matched, properly trained, boxing is a very safe sport.”

In fact, Allison says boxing has a rich history.

“I can think of no other sport I would rather see a youngster involved in,” he said.

For Allison, this is not just rhetoric.

His son, James, was in a boxing gym at eight years of age, and went on to compete in 72 matches, winning national medals as well as many other accolades.

“James did all this despite being diagnosed with juvenile diabetes before his first fight at the age of 10,” Allison said. “James is still involved as a trainer and also organizes the Clash events.”

Allison said that B.C. has an MMA Commission that was set up to facilitate the UFC/MMA.

“It has become the sanctioning body for amateur MMA and kickboxing and 80 to 90 per cent of their activity is amateur martial arts,” Allison noted. “When pro boxing does happen in BC the officials such as judges and referees are Combsport/WBC Canada officials that are licensed by the commission.”

These are some of the best officials in Canada, according to Allison.

Combsport/WBC Canada a non-profit that is a self funded sanctioning body facilitating amateur boxing in B.C. for almost a decade, Allison explained.

“The quality of these officials and the boxing culture around the local WBC amateur affiliate keeps pro boxing in good order,” he said. “The BC commission respects their officials and this is an asset in B.C., keeping pro boxing on the right path.”

As well, knowledgeable boxing trainers teach their fighters not to get hit as much as they train them to hit the other boxer. In fact, Allison pointed out, well-trained boxers will spend years learning how to take an edge off the punch, and how not to get hit.

“In MMA, that avoidance is not existent,” Allison said. “So when you get an MMA guy who can throw the odd punch, it gives a false impression of what they can do Sure, they can throw the odd punch but they can’t defend against it, and that’s where the actual technical difference lies.”

Allison said mixing MMA with boxing has got to stop. “My corner bucket is older than the sport of MMA. I’ve been using my corner bucket longer than that sport has existed. The cultures of the two sports are so different. It’s not a one size fits all, and so long as that is being done at the commission level and even at the club level, you are going to see more of this kind of nonsense.”

Allison said the bout between Hague and Braidwood shouldn’t have gone past the first round.

“There are signs that you can see when a fighter doesn’t want to be in the ring,” Allison said.

“Now I’m not saying (Hague) didn’t want to be in the ring the minute he stepped into it. I’m sure he did. He’s a tough guy, he’s a competitor, but once the reality of that fight started to evolve in the ring… he had no answer for what Braidwood was doing. No answer.”

– Read more at www.langleytimes.com

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