Safe weight-loss programme leads the way for fighter welfare
Late last year, a young Australian Muay Thai fighter lost her life while weight cutting before an amateur bout. Trying to rapidly drop to the 64kg limit for her class, Jessica Lindsay passed out while on a run and died in hospital four days later.
It was the second weight cutting related death in Australia in 2017, and prompted King in the Ring promoter Jason Suttie to take action against the practice to ensure nothing similar would happen in New Zealand.
“Our show is the leading kick boxing show in the country, and it’s a platform for our Kiwi fighters to fight overseas, so we just though why don’t we lead the way and start a safe weight cutting regime,” said Suttie.
“I just thought, man, this is the show to hopefully lead the way for other promoters anywhere in New Zealand to Australia to start doing it.”
The competition has been a launching pad for a number of Kiwi mixed martial artists, with past winners including UFC stars Israel Adesanya and Dan Hooker, and tonight’s show in Auckland will be the first with mandatory weight cutting restrictions.
The restrictions put in place allowed the fighter to be 10 per cent over the fight weight 30 days out from the weigh-in, six per cent 15 days out, and five per cent seven days out. Every fighter on the card successfully made weight.
Suttie introduced the optional restrictions at a show earlier this year, before enforcing them for this event.
This is the show to hopefully lead the way for other promoters anywhere in New Zealand to Australia to start doing it. King in the Ring promoter Jason Suttie The restrictions were developed alongside a nutritionist to find a level that
would be safe and effective, and diet plans were available for fighters who needed to cut weight safely.
“I went from fighting from lightweight where I had to make weight and I remember one time I cut seven kilos in 36 hours. I fought and I didn’t feel good,” Suttie said. “We were uneducated 20 years ago. I thought I was so fit but I fought with probably half of my fitness because it all went out with the fluids that I lost.
“What we didn’t know then was when you lose that much weight,
you’re losing fluids from your brain and it’s easier to get knocked out and it’s easier to get brain damage. We’re smarter now, so we want to help other people lose their weight safely.
“That way it’s safe for them, it’s safe for their opponent because you’re going to get a fair fight with two guys that are the same weight – not one guy who’s cut whatever to make their weight.”
Suttie expected some backlash, but the fighters and the kickboxing community supported the decision.