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.”
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 the bout between Hague and Braidwood shouldn’t have gone past the first round.
“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.”
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