TAMPA, Fla. – A woman died Tuesday after being pummeled in an amateur boxing bout, and police opened an investigation into the fight.
"We are trying to determine the criminality of it," police spokesman Jay Frank said.
Stacy Young, 30, suffered swelling and bleeding in the brain during Saturday night's Toughman (search) bout.
She was disconnected from life support Tuesday afternoon after being declared brain dead Monday night at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg, hospital spokesman Bill Hervey said. Hospital represenatives at one point Tuesday prematurely reported her death when she was still on life support.
Chuck Young said his wife, a mother of two, decided on the spur of the moment to compete after learning that the only woman who had signed up needed an opponent.
"It's supposed to be fun," said Chuck Young, who also got in the ring but who lasted only 29 seconds in his bout. "They tell us nobody's going to get hurt. The worst that could happen was to get a broken nose."
There were no cash prizes for the bouts in the publicly owned Robarts Arena (search), at the Sarasota County fairgrounds. In Florida, prize money for boxing is legal only in tightly regulated professional bouts.
At 240 pounds, Young outweighed her opponent by about 60 pounds. But in the first 30 seconds of the bout, family members knew it was an uneven match, said her sister Jodie Meyers.
Young nearly lasted all three rounds before falling the final time, Meyers said, adding that doctors told her any one of the many blows could have damaged Young's brain.
The Toughman contest was started by businessman and boxing promoter Art Dore in Michigan in 1979. Men and women pay a $50 entry fee and compete for cash or trophies.
At least three competitors have died in the past nine months, and some say the total number of deaths in the circuit's 24-year history is as high as nine. Several states have banned Toughman contests.
Dore in a statement Tuesday said he was "devastated" by the death. He added that Toughman bouts still have "the best safety record among all forms of boxing," and that all safety precautions were taken before the event.
Toughman officials say they intend to suspend all future contests while they investigate what, if anything, can be done to further reduce the risks to competitors.
Joelle English, head of public relations for AdoreAble Promotions (search), the event's parent company, said participants sign waivers releasing promoters from liability, and their heart rate and blood pressure are checked by a doctor.