LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A boxer who died after being knocked out in a heavyweight fight in Arkansas early this year had too much potassium in his system, which caused his organs to fail and his heart to stop, the Arkansas Athletic Commission said in a report released Monday.
The report notes that the commission's conclusion differs from the Arkansas medical examiner's finding that the primary cause of Athony Jones' death was a concussion. The Jan. 29 heavyweight fight in Benton between Jones, 28, of El Dorado, and Quincy Palmer lasted two rounds, with Palmer knocking out Jones at the end of the second round.
Post-mortem tests on Jones revealed he had used several types of steroids, including one intended only for animal use, and that he took an array of dietary supplements, according to the 143-page report, which was assembled with the assistance of four consulting physicians.
"Jones' use of alcohol and anabolic steroids, together with his extraordinary use of caffeine, tobacco, and nutritional supplements on top of additional multi-vitamins and potassium supplements without drinking sufficient water, created a biological environment which altered his normal physiological responses and facilitated his demise," the report concluded.
Jones, who had an amateur record of 13-3-0, took a potassium supplement around noon on the day of the fight, the report said. A person sharing Jones' hotel room told the commission Jones had said the supplement would "make his legs be able to go longer" and that he "didn't want his legs to cramp up."
When Jones couldn't get up after being counted out by the referee, a doctor and nurse were at Jones' side in about 15 seconds, the commission said after reviewing videotape of the bout. After hitting the canvas, Jones was conscious and talking but showed signs of impairment.
The ringside doctor didn't perceive a life-threatening emergency but had Jones taken by ambulance to a hospital as a precaution, the report said. Less than seven hours later, Jones was dead.
The commission found that its rules for pre-fight and post-fight physicals were followed, though the report recommended that fighters be stridently informed of the risks posed by supplements, steroids and other potentially harmful substances.
The report also details the extensive measures University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences physicians took to try to keep Jones alive as his kidneys failed, then his other organs, and until his heart finally stopped and couldn't be restarted.
Jones experienced progressive kidney failure as he was being treated and complained of feeling pain all over his body.
An autopsy found Jones had a hairline fracture at his right temple and "microscopic" hemorrhages and bruises to his brain, but no major brain injury.
Tests revealed Jones had three different steroids in his system, including boldenone, which was developed for veterinary use. Jones also had an enlarged heart, which the report attributed to steroid use.
Even a minor neurological injury coupled with the stress on Jones' organs was enough to put him on a fatal path, the report said.
"The end result was simply a cascading, multi-system failure resulting in death," the report said.