I was in the locker room at Chok Sabai Gym, checking my email on my phone, when I got a message from my Muay Thai fighter friend Peelo, linking me to an article about a recent death following a Muay Thai fight.
As I read the article I experienced sadness, both for the girl who died and for her opponent, who must be feeling an incredible level of pain at the revelation that a fight she’d just won (and surely she felt great winning by KO) resulted in such a bizarre and unexpected way.
While walking to my car I spoke with my husband on the phone, who had also just read news of this accident and he was sure to warn me that, if this story “gets out” to the general news reading public, it could mean a great deal of worry and concern from my family, since I am also a Muay Thai fighter. We agreed with one another that this incident is largely an anomaly, likening it to the death of Natasha Richardson, who bumped her head skiing and later slipped into a coma and died. Surely one is saddened by the news and takes note that even mundane activities can be dangerous, but anybody would balk at the notion that we should all view skiing as a fatal activity.
Once home I decided to send a message to Lindsay Scheer, the woman who shared the ring with Adrienne Simmons in her final fight. I wrote very little, essentially saying that I know she is going through a lot right now and that I support her, and that the whole Muay Thai community supports her and to please be good to herself. I’d read a quote from her that she may never fight again, or something to that effect, which I could certainly understand her feeling, but hoped very much that it was not the actual result of this whole experience.
Next day I was accepted as a “friend” on Lindsay Scheer’s facebook page and, now able to view her wall, I saw that she’d made a substantial statement there that, no longer taken out of context by journalists needing quick quotes, was really just a stunningly beautiful and moving expression of a woman who is going through a lot of pain, but is stronger in it than I could have imagined. My husband and I were both very impressed and affected by her words, which moved us both to tears and inspired me a great deal.
I had the chance to discuss this incident with a number of women in Muay Thai. Kru Nat Fuz, who I had asked to come with me to this very same event put on by the IKF, reminded me that she’d criticized the IKF for being disorganized and pointed out that a combat sporting event without an ambulance on site is absolutely unheard of. A friend of mine in North Carolina wrote to me, echoing my own sentiment that her concern for Lindsay Scheer was profound and she wished that she could let her know that she has support. I advised her of how I’d contacted Lindsay and sent her a link to the statement I’d read on her facebook page, as I felt that the articles I’d seen did not accurately reflect the intelligence, strength, and emotion that Lindsay Scheer expresses in her own, unedited words.
My friend told me she’d been reading articles online all day and was angry at the misinformation and misleading statements made in most of the articles. She said that half the articles referred to the event as a “kickboxing” match, while those that accurately named Muay Thai would also add that this sport “permits elbow and knee strikes,” thus implying that it was an elbow or knee strike that knocked Adrienne out; in reality, it was a hook – a strike typical of western boxing – and in amateur rules there are NOT elbows and no knee strikes to the head.
I told my friend that I was worried that this story would reach many people who do not know or understand Muay Thai and that it will cause them to pass negative judgments on the sport. I feel it is very important for the Muay Thai community to come together in this and lift our voice enough to educate those who don’t know and correct those who don’t see, as well as offer support to Adrienne Simmons’ family and to Lindsay Scheer.
Lindsay Scheer I have waited to make my statement about the terrible tragedy that has occurred this past weekend at IKFs because I wanted there to be time for all involved especially those closest to Adrienne to have a chance to tell their friends and hav…e their time to process this horrific event, but I feel there are some things that I need to say. What I was hoping would be a wonderful day turned out to be the absolute worst day of my entire life. I had anticipated a great weekend of being around and getting to participate in what I love – Muay thai. I could never have imagined that the weekend would end with me being called into a room by a sheriff to inform me that I am being interviewed for a homicide investigation. I have literally been inconsolable since that moment. I did not know what it really felt like to cry. I was and am broken.
I returned home to be greeted by my amazing parents who drove to my house in Louisville to be with me and tell me in person that they love me and that they are behind me. They also drove down to tell me that my grandmother had died this morning as well. I do not add these details to evoke pity or draw attention to me. In fact, I am done talking about my hurt and my pain because it is only self-serving and would evoke pity and condolences from people that I just don’t want or feel like I deserve. Any energy or thought in this matter must go to Adrienne and Chike. I mention these details because they have helped to bring me to what I am about to say:
A piece of me died in the ring yesterday with Adrienne. I will never get it back…not even in time – it will not heal this, period. However, my initial visceral reaction when I was told by the police officers was a hysterical fit that I will never fight again. To be honest, I am terrified to step into the ring and I don’t know how I will be able to…but again, this is not about me. My grandmother was one of the strongest people I have had the privilege of knowing and Adrienne was one of the bravest. I know that my grandmother would tell me I am being weak and wasteful and I truly believe that Adrienne would want me to continue to fight because if this situation was reversed, I would have wanted her to do the same.
We both love this sport, it is more than what we do, it is a part of who we are and if I spend the rest of my life avoiding Muay Thai, then we both die. I say this because long before the IKF tournament, I had accepted a rematch bout with a very tough dutch girl I had fought last year. This was the toughest fight I have ever had. It is scheduled for Aug 29th in Suriname. I think I have to go through with it. I have to find some way to make myself train and prepare for this match because I feel it needs to be done to commemorate Adrienne. She deserves nothing less. In fact, she deserves more than a bout in her memory, she deserves change. I cannot let her death be in vain. The Kickboxing community needs to make something positive from this tragedy and I’ll do whatever I can to facilitate it. I do not expect everyone to agree with me or even to understand where I am coming from. All that I ask is that you do not judge me. I of course will not proceed with the fight unless I have the support of Chike and those closest to Adrienne because I wish to do nothing that those who knew her best would deem disrespectful. So please…no responses to this post unless it is a way we can begin to make things better.