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Peruvian Fighter Charged With Manslaughter After Training Death

Franco Lescano had only been training in mixed martial arts for six months when everything went wrong. During the midst of sparring with David Salazar inside a San Fernando, Argentina gym on March 10, two lives would be changed forever.

While the facts of exactly what happened are in dispute, the final outcome was undoubtedly tragic: a training accident resulted in Lescano becoming a quadriplegic and eventually dying after 21 days of intensive care hospitalization.

According to at least one local press report, the accident resulted when Lescano was shooting in for a takedown and landed awkwardly, probably on his head.

The result of the horrific sequence was two fractured cervical vertebrae and spinal damage for Lescano, who was left motionless. The immediate care provided by the gym is considered a contributing cause of his death, according to Lescano's family. The attorney for his wife told one media outlet that instead of immediately calling for medical help, Tiger Gym members moved Lescano themselves (the gym disputes that assertion). Neck injuries require immediate stabilization as any movement could exacerbate the problem up to and including death.

"Franco's injury was compounded by the abysmal care they received there," Jose Vera said.

The 30-year-old Lescano had two children and had reportedly been training for his first fight. Three weeks later, he was dead.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Peruvian Salazar was arrested and charged with a crime similar to manslaughter. Some of the news stories on the incident describe Salazar as using a choke-type hold on Lescano as they fell to the mat, though none of the reports suggest anything malicious in his actions. Neither do any of the reports suggest how much jail time Salazar faces if convicted.

In discussing the case, the city's attorney general told the media, "This 'anything goes' is nonsense. It's not a sport, it's a massacre."

Several of the articles discussing Lescano's death note that mixed martial arts is organized and sanctioned in the part of the country where the accident took place, though his wife insists that the gym members were practicing not for MMA, but for vale tudo, the sport's precursor with few of the safety rules inherent in today's MMA.

There have only been a handful of deaths in MMA history, and only one has taken place as a result of a bout in the United States, when Sam Vasquez died after collapsing in the third round of a fight in Houston, Texas in Oct. 2007.

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