Top trainer baffled by death of Rondel Clark

Amateur welterweight Rondel Clark died on Monday after fighting Saturday night. Clark was 1-0 and the time and fighting a 0-2 opponent. The bout was stopped in Round 3 after Clark appeared too tired to intelligently defend himself. At no point did he appear to sustain blows sufficient in power to cause injury, never mind death.

Clark fought out of Integrated MMA in Westboro, Massachusetts. Famed trainer Mark DellaGrotte sometimes teaches classes at the facility and was interviewed by a true friend of the sport, Jack Encarnacao, chief investigative reporter for the Boston Herald.

DellaGrotte said Clark’s trainers said their fighter had no issues making weight. He is rumored to have cut 8 lbs to make the 171 weight limit, not an unusual amount, and less than 5% of his body weight; the 8-pound figure is however unconfirmed. DellaGrotte further reported that Clark’s trainers said the fighter experience kidney failure at the hospital.

“He was laughing, he was joking upstairs when he was warming up,” said DellaGrotte. “He was in good spirits, he was jovial … There was absolutely no indication that this should have happened. None of it makes sense.”


“He was never knocked out. He was exhausted and the ref stopped the fight. There was no head trauma, there was no body damage taken on his behalf whatsoever. He simply was exhausted and could not continue to fight. I don’t even think he had a scratch on him.”

“Everybody was just completely baffled that this happened. It blindsided everybody. He was fine right before the fight. We need to prevent this from ever happening again. We need to know, as professionals in this sport, for the safety of this sport, we need to know why this happened and how we can prevent it in the future.”

The medical examiner’s office has yet to make a determination as to cause of death. The tragedy is being investigated by state and local law enforcement, as well as the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission.

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