Stacy Young's family says the young mother of two believed her "Toughman" boxing contest would be a fun challenge — but she never thought it would end up costing her life.
Young, 30, of Bradenton, Fla., died Monday, two days after she was knocked out and suffered brain damage during a boxing match with another woman. The match was part of a "Toughman" competition, which matches amateur fighters.
Young's sister, Jodie Meyers, said Young decided to enter the competition Saturday after attending the previous night's competition.
"It was a challenge and something we could joke about later and say I did this wild and crazy thing," Meyers said. "She never expected anything at all dangerous was going to happen."
Meyers said Young, who was 240 pounds, was matched with another woman based on her weight before she stepped in the ring with her family looking on. She and her opponent were considered an even match by Toughman even though Young outweighed her opponent by 60 pounds. Meyers said Young was knocked down repeatedly, and that her doctors believe the young mother received a deadly blow as soon as the match got started.
"Looking back at her gait during the fight — that was probably when she received the fatal injury," Meyers said.
The Sarasota Police Department has since opened an investigation into the death of Young, who was married and had two daughters, aged 12 and 9.
Four Toughman Deaths in Nine Months
Young is not the first to die during a Toughman bout — in fact, four Toughman fighters have been killed in the last nine months. A number of other contestants have been seriously injured, including two fighters who were hospitalized the same night Young fought.
Toughman contests, created by businessman and boxing promoter Art Dore, have been running for 24 years. They allow untrained boxers who pay an entry fee to compete for cash prizes and trophies. Winners can move on from local to national competitions. Participants also sign a waiver releasing Toughman from any liability.
Larry Hazzard, New Jersey's Commissioner of the State Athletic Control Board, says the lack of training, conditioning and skill of ordinary people make these boxing matches a terrible idea. The former three-time Golden Glove champion says the board has long banned Toughman from the state.
"We want no part of Toughman," Hazzard said. "Would it be a surprise to anyone that you'd find these type of injuries are occuring? Not to me," he said.
Young family attorney Greg Kehoe added that several states have followed New Jersey's ban on Toughman contests.
A Mother’s Warning
Young's mother, Linda Lewis, says she tried to talk her daughter out of signing up, but that Young was not at all worried
"There was no thought that this could be this serious or have this kind of an outcome," Lewis said.
Although the Toughman organization declined Good Morning America's invitation to provide a spokesman, it did release a statement, which read: "Young passed the on-site physical prior to the event. All safety precautions were taken. Boxing is an inherently dangerous sport. Toughman has long been known to be the safest form of fighting event."
Family attorney Kehoe says Young would have never agreed to enter the match if she had known it could be dangerous.
"The issue is whether or not any consent is an informed consent," Kehoe said. "While they are told certain things about getting hurt in this type of bout, and fighting is inherently dangerous, it's also billed as being fun."
ABCNEWS' Greg Hunter reported this story on Good Morning America.