An inquest following the death of Jessica Lindsay, an 18-year-old Perth native who tragically died in 2017 after collapsing during training for a Muay Thai bout, has confirmed that the teenager died due to “multiple organ failure due to the combined effects of hyperthermia and dehydration” after being pressured into cutting 17 pounds in just seven days.
Reports show that on November 10, Lindsay collapsed during a run while accompanied by her 14-year-old sister, just hours before the official weigh-in of her second Muay Thai bout. She was rushed to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch, Western Australia, and admitted to intensive care, but there was little doctors could do to save her life. Four days later, she was pronounced dead due to a major organ failure.
Lindsay trained out of Kao Sok Muay Thai in Forrestdale, Western Australia. Owned by “Dangerous” Darren Curovic, Jess’ mother, Sharon Lindsay, told the coronial inquest that the gym promoted a “bullying culture” and said her daughter was told if she failed to make weight, it would “put shame” on the gym and its coaches.
“Jess was not prepared to tackle the fallout if she failed to make the weight … she was not prepared to take it on,” she told ABC News.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Mr. Brendyn Nelson, stated that in the week prior to her bout, Lindsay had started taken progressively extreme measures to make weight. The first of these was water loading; she consumed 7.5 liters of water on day one, decreasing this amount by half on each of the following days until none was consumed on the final day. Mr. Nelson stated that Lindsay used this method in conjunction with several other means of dropping weight including taking saunas and hot saltwater baths, running in a sauna suit and using laxatives.
As a result of these methods, she reported suffering from a variety of physical symptoms; these included headaches, tiredness, shivering, dizziness, cramping, and fuzziness of her hearing and eyesight. A friend of Lindsay’s told the coronial inquest that she received texts during the weeks prior in which Lindsay said she was “rugged up, in clothes and blankets and shivering.”
“She just wanted it to be done”
Sharon Lindsay told ABC News that when her daughter collapsed, she had no idea how serious it was.
“We were trying to get her awake, give her fluids. I had no idea. I thought she had just fainted,” she said.
Following her daughter’s collapse, Sharon immediately drove her to the gym, expecting the experienced trainers of Kao Sok Muay Thai to calmly deal with the situation. Instead, they had absolutely no idea and had to be asked numerous times before finally helping. Kao Sok Muay Thai states “KAO SOK MUAY THAI GYM TRAINERS form a VERY STRONG AND POTENT COACHING TEAM, they put their FIGHTERS through a very rigorous fight training routine to ensure that they are SUPER FIT, SUPER CONDITIONED, SKILLFUL AND READY FOR WAR!”
Sharon Lindsay also testified that her daughter had spoken several times about how difficult the weight cut had been, but refused to stop and kept persevering with whatever her trainers asked of her.
“She just wanted it to be done… Jess wanted it to stop but she wouldn’t stop until the weight was gone,” she said. “She had trained very hard to get to that point. She was still focussed to do the fight. She’d just had enough of this last preparation.”
While weight cutting is most traditionally associated with wrestling, it remains one of combat sports’ most widespread issues with weight loss-related injuries and deaths become more common in boxing and MMA as well as Muay Thai and kickboxing. In Perth, it is hoped that this tragedy will bring about major reform relating to safety in combat sports and this has been championed by Jessica’s mother.
“What I hope comes out of this inquest is that everyone can be united together to create significant and important change to make Muay Thai a safer sport,” she said. “Starting in Perth and hopefully going across the globe.”
Student and sports fan in England with a passion for the sweet science of MMA