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ABC donates $5K to foundation started by family of fighter who died after extreme weight cut

The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC) is putting its money where its mouth is with regards to extreme weight cutting.

ABC president Mike Mazzulli told MMA Fighting that the group that oversees athletic commissions in North America and beyond will donate $5,000 to the Rondel Clark Foundation, which was launched over the weekend to raise awareness about extreme weight cutting via severe dehydration. Clark died last year at the age of 26, three days after an amateur fight, due in part to a harsh weight cut, his family believes.

Mazzulli announced the donation last Saturday at the event announcing the start of the foundation, which took place at Clark’s former gym, Integrated Martial Arts in Westborough, Mass. The money will come from the ABC’s charitable fund.

“Whenever somebody gets injured or loses their life in the sport, I think the ABC should be there to support them and their family,” Mazzulli said. “At the end of the day, the ABC, we’re all working on behalf of fighter safety. Everybody has to remember this, too: If not for the fighters, we wouldn’t have jobs.”

The Rondel Clark Foundation’s mission is to “prevent the practice of extreme weight cutting through education and regulation, and to help families who have been affected by extreme weight cuts,” per the organization’s website.

Clark died of extreme rhabdomyolysis, the rapid breaking down of muscle tissue sometimes caused by physical overexertion combined with dehydration, according to his mother Arianne. Clark’s kidneys failed at the hospital after the fight and then his entire system shut down. Clark had the sickle cell trait, which Arianne said she only found out later was something that could accelerate the deterioration of someone who went through an extreme level of physical activity.

At the launch event, a video was played chronicling Clark’s life and discussing the practice of extreme weight cutting, which is a hot-button issue right now in MMA.

Mazzulli believes there needs to be a team effort to stop dangerous weight cuts. All have to be involved, including promoters, coaches, trainers, families and, of course, the fighters themselves. Mazzulli is the director of the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation in Connecticut, which has passed a portion of the California State Athletic Commission’s 10-point weight-cutting reform plan.

“Until we stop rewarding people for not making weight, what are we doing here?” Mazzulli said. “Until we stop doing that, the fighters are going to keep doing it. Until we stop calling a fighter two weeks out knowing that they’re probably 30 pounds overweight and have them fight at a weight that’s gonna kill them to lose … . It’s not just the commissions’ problem — it’s the promotions, it’s the trainers, it’s the fighters, it’s the families.

“It’s the industry that needs to do something. Look, the commissions can put their foot down and do something and everyone is gonna hate us for it. But at the end of the day, it’s for the safety of the fighter.”

Mazzulli said he is abolishing the rule that gives fighters two more hours to make weight after an initial miss at Mohegan. Last month, the ABC passed a proposal that will make boxers do a fight-day weigh-in and if they are more than 10 percent above the contracted weight class, they will not be able to fight for a title.

Arianne, Rondel’s mother, told MMA Fighting earlier this month that is a goal of the foundation to get new legislation passed that stops encouraging extreme weight cutting, starting with the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission (MSAC).

“They’re the regulators,” Arianne said. “Regulate. With doping, they have regulations against it. So, make some consequences for the actions that people are taking and let’s try to change it, because it’s senseless. It doesn’t make sense to me.

“They say it’s a personal choice. But people don’t make the best choices. That’s why we have laws and regulations.”

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