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Subject: Toughman Fighter's Death Ruled Homicide

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Date Posted: February 01, 2003 6:06:09 EDT

The medical examiner listed homicide as the cause of death of a Toughman contestant. But law enforcement officials said they would not seek criminal charges, noting the bouts are legal in the state.

Scott Wood, 31, of San Antonio, died Jan. 24 at St. Mary's Hospital in Saginaw. He was taken to the hospital Jan. 4, shortly after falling unconscious after winning his bout at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant. Toughman, a form of boxing where contestants compete for small cash prizes, has been linked to at least nine deaths since 1979.

Dr. Kanu Virani made the homicide ruling after conducting an autopsy on Wood.

But Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick said he did not plan to pursue a murder case because Wood's death was equivalent to a slaying committed in self-defense.

"From what I understand, we have mutual combatants engaging in a legal activity in the state of Michigan," Burdick said.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, which owns and operates Soaring Eagle, has not released the name of Wood's opponent in the Jan. 4 bout.

Art Dore, whose Bay City-based Adore Able Promotions Inc. produces the Original Toughman Contest, has said he was "very sorry" to hear of Wood's death. Dore has said he will continue staging the amateur fights, despite pressure from state regulators.

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