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5/16/2005 10:00am,
Mixed Martial Arts Games Trigger Safety Concerns

By Kim Rahn
Korea Times Staff Reporter

Fierce mixed martial arts (MMA) matches have stirred up controversy over their safety, following the death of a player during a game in a restaurant in southern Seoul.

Thursday night, the player, identified as his surname Lee, died right after a game at Gimme Five, a live sports and entertainment restaurant located in COEX in Samsong-dong.

The 35-year-old was injured around the eyes only one minute after the first round started, and the game was halted. Lee reportedly went to a locker room but collapsed while talking to a doctor.

He was taken to a hospital but died soon after. Police said an autopsy showed that the direct cause of the death was a myocardial infarction.

Lee, who worked as an MMA player and butcher in his hometown Wonju, Kangwon Province, reportedly took part in the game that night just after arriving in Seoul.

``We knew Lee might be tired but let him enter the game, because he said his condition was fine,'' a Gimme Five staff said.

Critics say the restaurant allowed a player, whose health condition was not confirmed, to enter the fighting ring even though safety is a key issue for the MMA, which allows all kinds of beating and kicking without weapons.

The ward office in Kangnam-gu has also come under criticism for allowing unregulated MMA matches by regarding the fighting game as a performance.

``We regard MMA as a performance, as the restaurant does not charge an additional fee for the matches, just for food,'' a ward official said.

Gimme Five also did not insure Lee for damages although it was Lee's second game at the restaurant following his first last year.

There are no official organizations supervising MMA in Korea, and several small agencies insure their own players.

``Such accidents are predicted, as the nation's MMA field neglects players' safety and many amateurs are participating in a large number of games,'' a worker of an MMA agency said.

The restaurant puts on two games every night except Sunday, and many untrained players have been able to challenge to a game.

Most of the nation's MMA players have other jobs to make a living and do not receive proper medical checkups. At the restaurant, a winner reportedly receives 400,000 won a game, while a loser takes 100,000 won.

``Referees have great responsibility for the violent game as they need to stop the fighting at dangerous moments. But there are no professional referees,'' the worker said.

Lee's bereaved family demanded an official apology from Gimme Five and compensation for the accident, claiming the restaurant and Lee's agency showed an insincere attitude toward their liability.

The restaurant plans to suspend the game for a while.

The police said it will call in Gimme Five staff and managers for questioning over the accident.

[email protected]
05-15-2005 17:45


400k won = ~$400 USD, ~$504.80 Canadian, ~316 Euros.

5/16/2005 10:11am,
Need an franchise of this restaurant here, would be more entertaining than Chuck E. Cheese.

5/16/2005 12:04pm,
i'd totally go to a restaurant that had deathmatches.

but i wouldn't eat there.

5/16/2005 12:32pm,
I just thought it would be cool for the fights...not because someone died.
I wouldn't want anyone to think that I would joke about that.

Beatdown Richie
5/16/2005 1:58pm,
That was just a matter of time.

People have died in boxing, wrestling, football, running, car-, horse-, and bike races... it would be an outright miracle if a sport that has people punch, kick, slam and neck crank each other went on forever without a casualty, whether by injury or by myocardial fuckup. Hopefully that will be a warning sign for organizers to take medical examinations seriously to keep the casualty rate small.

5/16/2005 2:11pm,
This guy getting a myocardial infarc has ****-all to do with him getting struck. I'd be interested to hear the guy's medical history, and if he had any signs of an early onset cardiac condition (other than the obvious one...).

I feel for the guy's family. It would be really easy to blame this on the violent nature of contact MA, but I'm not convinced that the violence has anything to do with it. We had a guy go down with an infarc during a hockey game; the family tried to sue the rink and blame hockey, but really it was just an unrecognized heart condition that set things off. This just sucks, for everyone involved directly or otherwise. Fucking irresponsible people...damnit. This crap just makes me sad.

5/16/2005 6:04pm,
Some of you may be interested in this site, which has an in depth explanation of Miocarial Infarction... with a lot of medical jargon.

From the Artical:
Male predilection exists in persons aged 40-70 years.
AMI occurs most frequently in persons older than 45 years.

The fact that he was close (i know, 5 years off the minimum prediction) to the age means it could have been a problem with him before the fight.

That aside, unless im reading the artical wrong, and thats a probable factor, a blow to the head is not considered a direct cause of an AMI.

Still, thoughts and feelings go out to the family, and it is a sad day for MMA the world over!

5/16/2005 6:35pm,
Nope, you read the article correctly. They throw in the scientific jargon to make it sound more complicated than it is. :5slick:

A blow to the head could cause a whole lot of other stuff (hemmorhage, maybe even throw a clot in the head...) but not MI. Unless something clotted and went into the heart, which I REALLY doubt. I haven't ever heard/seen such a thing, but I suppose it's possible. He was on the young side for AMI, so you'd have to look at risk factors...that's why I was interested in the guy's medical history. It was almost certain to the point of unity that something developed before the fight.

This is why athletic and gaming commissions can be really anal about pre-fight physicals. It protects the fighter from his promoters and himself via a disinterested (hopefully) third party.

5/16/2005 6:40pm,
The original post also talks about the fighter Lee:

...was injured around the eyes only one minute after the first round started...
So like you said, its highly unlikely that that could have caused some damage around the heart.

I agree with what you're (Tiffer) saying about ensuring the fighters attend pre-bout physicals/medicals - who knows, maybe one of these could have prevented this, as im guessing they prevent all sorts of injuries at other events.

5/16/2005 8:33pm,
somebody recently died in the afl (arena football league), and that barely made the news. i don't think this will really hurt the sport of mma too much.

as far as a restaurant with mma matches in the middle of dinner, that is fucking great. if im ever in seoul ill definitely check that place out.

5/16/2005 9:53pm,
You must be the romantic type.

5/16/2005 9:55pm,
Romantic insofar as he remembers to rape and pillage after he burns. Because it's more romantic by firelight, don'tcha know.

5/16/2005 10:32pm,

*Looks oddly at Phrost*

5/17/2005 5:49am,
Guys, im guessing that the original post came off of a translation, and not actually what was written...
Its just that (i wish it really was a 'Restaurant') i dont think its meant to say restaurant, player, or even game. Im thinking they meant, competition, figher and bout/fight instead.

Sorry to put a dampener on things :P

J.T. Hurley
5/17/2005 11:28am,
It does say that the place operates under different rules because "'We regard MMA as a performance, as the restaurant does not charge an additional fee for the matches, just for food,' a ward official said."

BTW, for anyone who isn't aware of it yet, a Myocardial Infarction is the formal term for a "heart attack."

5/17/2005 3:38pm,
Is this proof that MMA is "teh deadly" on "teh street"?


``We regard MMA as a performance, as the restaurant does not charge an additional fee for the matches, just for food,'' a ward official said.

Is MMA the next Wushu?


This is the not the first time this has happened (http://www.mma.tv/TUF/index.cfm?ac=ListMessages&PID=1&TID=601799&FID=1) at Gimme Five.