High School Coach Dies In Church Boxing Match

PHOTO: High School Coach Dies In Church Boxing MatchPlayCourtesy of the Clinkscale family
WATCH Clinkscale Family Sues Church for Negligence

The family of a former University of Tulsa football player is suing the church where 24-year-old George Clinkscale III died during an unsanctioned boxing match. He left behind a 2-year-old daughter and a fiancée, who gave birth to his second child two weeks ago.

"I would say this is one of the most remarkable kids you would ever know," said his father, George Clinkscale II, who lives in Texas. "He's a father's dream."

The family is seeking at least $75,000 in damages from the church and two of the pastors, Bill Scheer and wife Sandra.

Guts Church, a Christian house of worship claiming to have "some of the best youth and outreach programs in the country," has been promoting "Fight Night" -- a boxing match held in the church's parking lot -- for six years.

Advertisements for the annual boxing match appear on local billboards and the church's youth group, known as Sub30, rallied people to attend the event on their Twitter feed.

"@sub30tulsa'sannual FIGHT NIGHT is tomorrow at 8pm! Tickets are only $5! sub30.com," the group tweeted on Sept. 20.

Sub30 follower bailiekennedy tweeted, "Want to literally feel the blood, sweat & tears @sub30tulsa FIGHT NIGHT VI? Ringside tix are on sale $50/person-get em while they're hot!"

A YouTube video posted in 2009 shows a previous Fight Night match in which one boxer appears to be out of shape and ends up delivering a poor performance in the ring.

A couple of days before the Sept. 21 fight, Clinkscale family lawyer Lee Levenson says the young man was called in to substitute for another fighter. He speculated the church wanted to find someone who had played for Tulsa, because his opponent was from Oklahoma State.

"They were trying to create a rivalry [between schools] to get people to come," he said.

George Clinkscale's father said his son had "never mentioned the church to me before. Ever. It's my understanding he was asked to do this as a favor to help them with a fundraiser."

After the match, George Clinkscale was taken to the hospital, where he died that day.

The family was told he went into renal failure.

"George was one of the nicest kids. It makes me cry when I think about it," said Levenson, who knew George Clinkscale when he was a college student working for Levenson's other business, an oil and gas company. "He always had a bubbling personality – everybody liked George."

The former athlete most recently worked as a football coach at Central High School in Tulsa.

The boy who fought him, Levenson said, is "sick" over Clinkscale's death.

"He can't hardly live with himself and is having emotional problems too," he said.

The medical examiner's report will be out in a week or two, and it will likely show that Clinkscale "had a broken neck," according to Levenson.

In the family's complaint, Levenson argues the church ignored state law.

"They violated a rule for having an unsanctioned boxing match, without proper people to manage the fight, without pre-fight physicals, unlicensed referees … it's like if you got kids together in the neighborhood to beat each other to death and you wanted to charge an entry fee. It would be no difference," he said.

Even when Clinkscale was "severely injured," the complaint states, "no medical help was available," although he was "in extreme pain and gravely in need of immediate medical assistance," which caused "great pain, suffering, mental anguish, and caused or contributed to the cause of his death."

Guts Church did not immediately respond to inquiries from ABCNews.com, but a spokesperson from the church told a local news station that the proceeds from the Fight Night events were donated to charity and that the church did not profit from the event.

On the church's website, pastor Bill Scheer posted a video of a sermon on Sept. 25 in which he called on parishioners to pray for the Clinkscale family.

"I prayed with George a number of times, with him and for him, and I … I called his mama last night. It's one of those things that you just breathe, you miss him," Bill Scheer said in the video, who also noted George was a "huge strength" on the University of Tulsa football team.

Clinkscale's father told ABCNews.com his son's mother never spoke to Scheer, although Scheer did call her.

Oklahoma State Athletic Association executive director Joe Miller told ABCNews.com, "We did a cursory investigation to find out if there was any violation of our act and the determination was made that it was an illegal event."

Even so, he added, the organization "didn't have jurisdiction or authority over the event because it was an amateur event."

"We don't buy that, because it covers all boxing events. They charged $5 to $50 a person. They had vendors there," he said. "The fight itself in our opinion is totally illegal. They were like an underground fight league."

USA Boxing, the governing body of national amateur boxing events, told ABCNews.com the event was "unsanctioned."

Tulsa police are currently investigating.