Nick Lembo, the legal counsel for the New Jersey Athletic Control Board, contacted FiveOuncesOfPain.com (www.FiveOuncesOfPain.com) in regards to an article authored by Kevin Iole that was published on Yahoo! Sports.
The article, which was a profile piece on UFC light heavyweight Houston Alexander, quoted Alexander’s trainer Mick Doyle as saying Alexander was not “mentally right” for his fight at UFC 78 against Thiago Silva. The indirect quote attributed to Doyle indicated that Alexander was not “mentally right” because a member from the New Jersey Athletic Control Board informed Alexander and Doyle before the fight that the bout was off because Alexander only has one kidney.
The exact passage referenced is as follows:
His trainer, Mick Doyle, concedes that Alexander could use work on his jiu-jitsu. But he said Alexander wasn’t right mentally that night and suspects it had something to do with the events in the dressing room an hour before he was to go out.
A member of the New Jersey Athletic Control Board walked into the room and told Alexander and Doyle the fight was off because Alexander only has one kidney.
Alexander had donated a kidney to one of his daughters several years earlier, but he’d always passed his pre-fight physicals with no problems. But New Jersey, fearful of a lawsuit should something untoward happen, opted at the last minute to prevent Alexander from fighting.
The reasoning was that with just one kidney, he wouldn’t have a backup if something happened to it. Manager Monte Cox, UFC president Dana White and Doyle were pleading Alexander’s case.
Lembo was not referenced in the Yahoo! story by name but expressed that he felt compelled to contact Five Ounces Of Pain because he first became aware of the accusation via a blog posting by senior writer Adam Morgan. While Lembo was not named specifically, he believes the accusation was directed at him because he states he was the only representative for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board that attended UFC 78.
Lembo issued a categorical denial to the accusation.
“When I saw the story, it has a lot of misstatements and a lot of falsehoods and it’s clearly an incorrect and inaccurate story,” Lembo stated. “We were aware that Houston Alexander had one kidney, passed all of his pre-license medicals (and) he passed his pre-fight medical.
“The only issue with Houston Alexander, and I was the only representative there for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board because that was after Larry Hazzard was removed from his position and the acting commissioner who replaced him was at a boxing match that was televised by HBO at the Borgata, so I’m the only one that could be involved in this story about the athletic commission.
“I see the quote here: ‘Manager Monte Cox, UFC president Dana White and Doyle were pleading Alexander’s case.’ I’ve known Monte Cox very well for years. I never spoke with Monte Cox with regard to this matter. I obviously know UFC president Dana White. Dana White did not try to convince me one way or the other. He did not get involved in this decision. And I don’t even know Mr. Doyle; I don’t believe I’ve even met Mr. Doyle.
“What happened was my concern over the one kidney. I wanted Mr. Alexander to speak to our ringside physician, who was on staff and assigned to that event, and I sent an inspector as a witness and asked Houston to sign a document after our physician explained to him he risks of fighting with one kidney and what would happen to Houston if he damaged that kidney or possibly destroyed that kidney.
“The risks were explained to him. The level of risks were explained to him. It was not described as a high level of risk. I believe it was described that it would take a ‘miracle level kick’ or a ‘one in the million shot’ to damage that kidney. However, he is an adult and he’s free to make that decision but I felt that I would be remiss if I let Houston fight without knowing if he was advised of the possible medical risks.
“He was given that document after presenting the risks to him and was asked to sign a document that he was informed of the risks, aware of the risks, understood them, accepted them, and that he chose to fight.
“The only person that night that could decide not to fight that night was Houston Alexander. He was approved to fight by the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board.”
Lembo also took great issue with the implication that his only motive for speaking with Alexander was to avert a potential lawsuit and asked for an opportunity to address that statement.
“It’s not an issue of we were fearful of a lawsuit should something untoward happen,” said Lembo. “It was a concern for the fighter that he is advised of the medical risks and the possibilities at stake and that he makes an informed decision.”
Monte Cox was contacted for comment by Five Ounces Of Pain in regards to this story but was unavailable.