Oklahoma Family Sues Church Over Death in Ring

By JARREL WADE | October 31, 2011

The family of a former University of Tulsa football player who died following an unsanctioned boxing match at a local church filed a suit Friday in Tulsa County against the church for damages.

The suit alleges gross negligence by Guts Church for promoting and organizing a boxing match that was not licensed and in violation of state and federal regulations.

George Clinkscale III, a former TU linebacker and father, died following a boxing match at Guts Church’s Fight Night VI, held in the church’s parking lot Sept. 21.

Clinkscale, who was 24 and from Cedar Hill, Texas, reportedly began cramping during his match and later died at a hospital.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office did not have a preliminary report of the cause of death when contacted by the Tulsa World on Wednesday.

In the lawsuit, members of Clinkscale’s family, including his father, mother, fiancee and two children, were listed as plaintiffs and asked for an unspecified amount of damages in excess of $75,000 and punitive or exemplary damages.

The suit lists defendants, William and Sandra Scheer, as directors of Guts Church Inc., and holds them accountable for Clinkscale’s death.

Guts Church didn’t immediately respond to emails sent requesting comment.

According to the suit, the defendants should have known that the boxing matches, called “illegal and extremely dangerous underground boxing operations,” were in violation of state law.

“As a direct result of the … conduct of the defendants … George L. Clinkscale III, prior to his death, endured pain, suffering and mental anguish which was directly caused by the injuries he suffered in the fight and his ultimate death,” according to allegations in the lawsuit.

The suit further alleges the defendants used fighters somewhat known in the area such as University of Tulsa football players to promote the event.

According to advertisements published by Guts Church, the event also promoted a bout between a Tulsa police officer and a Tulsa firefighter.

Clinkscale reportedly fought in the main bout against a former Oklahoma State football player.

Tulsa Police began an investigation into Clinkscale’s death Oct. 10, Officer Jason Willingham said.

The investigation is being conducted by the department’s homicide division, although not because they are considering it a homicide, Willingham said.

Any criminal investigation involving a death will involve the homicide division, he said.

Officials with the state boxing commission conducted an investigation following the event, which they called illegal.

However, boxing commission officials also said there may be a loophole in the law that doesn’t directly address penalties against unsanctioned boxing matches – only sanctioned matches.

A civil suit would not fall into any possible legal loopholes, but they may factor into a judgment if the lawsuit proceeds to court.

William Scheer, interviewed the morning after the fight on Sept. 22, said the boxers were all wearing headgear and 16-ounce gloves during the matches, which were three one-minute rounds.

Sixteen-ounce gloves are larger – and thus more padded – than the standard 10-ounce size worn by amateur boxers who compete in the Olympic Games.

Another fighter at the event, Dwayllen Lyles, told the Tulsa World after the event that Clinkscale looked “very panicked” and “had a worried look on his face,” following the match.

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