In case you didn’t catch it, this past Thursday the family of Bradley Rone, a heavyweight who collapsed and died in Cedar City, Utah in July of 2003, filed suit in Salt Lake City against the Utah Athletic Commission and its executive director, Richard Weinsoft. Top Rank was also named as a defendant, as were Sean Gibbons, Pete Susens and Cornelius Boza-Edwards, who work for Top Rank; FKF Productions, and its owner, Eddie “Flash” Newman, who promoted the fight card at which Rone died Here is the story in the Salt Lake Tribune.
The thrust of the suit is that Rone was not fit to fight and should not have been clearance to do so, and that the defendants knew it.
Right now I don’t want to venture too extensively into the specifics of the argument, since I might wind up involved in the case on some level, but if you follow this thing as it plays out, you’re going to see a very harrowing tale of neglect by regulators, who seemed to have a reckless disregard for their own rules and regulations, with very little understanding of the potential damaging effects of not following those rules until it was too late. ALL commissions should be watching this thing closely, as should the Association of Boxing Commissions, which appeared to go out of its way to legitimize Utah’s chief regulator (Weinsoft) after this tragic incident – oddly reminiscent of what they did for Jack Kerns, the chairman of the Kentucky commission, whose negligence contributed to Greg Page suffering permanent brain damage after a knockout loss in 2001.
I’ll say this much: if the doctor appointed by the Utah commission did NOT examine Rone prior to entering the ring (and thus far the state has not produced any documentation that he did so), there’s going to be a whole lot of additional trouble for everyone involved.
Jennifer Weaver, a reporter for The Spectrum in Cedar City, filed a series of reports surrounding Rone’s death that provide an excellent and comprehensive background. Here you can find a list of them through the archives. I wrote an analysis of my own findings – “Utah…..And All That Jazz” here on The Sweet Science last December 31. It illustrated some of the very serious problems with Utah’s boxing regulators and how those problems could easily lead to tragedy in the ring, and won a “Barney” award from the Boxing Writers Association of America.