TULSA, Oklahoma -- Former Tulsa Golden Hurricane linebacker George Clinkscale died Wednesday night after participating in an unsanctioned amateur boxing match held at Guts Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The fights are targeted to young adults 18 - 30 years old, and promoted online as part of their "Sub 30" ministry.
GUTS held Wednesday's match in the parking lot and promoted it with billboards, but it passed under the radar of the state authorities who oversee amateur boxing.
Now they're looking into the death of Clinkscale, who within minutes of his match was critically ill and died shortly after arriving at St. Francis Hospital.
According to a press release sent out by Guts Church, Clinkscale began cramping during his fight and asked EMSA personnel that were on site for IV hydration.
"We are deeply saddened by the passing of George Clinkscale," the press release said. "We join George's many friends in mourning his passing. Our hearts and prayers are with his family and friends.
This was the sixth time that Guts Church had held a boxing event, billed on their website as "Guts Fight Night VI." According to a tweet sent out by Guts Church pastor Bill Scheer, there were 12 fights set to take place during the event.
In order for an amateur boxing event to be held in the state of Oklahoma it must be sanctioned by USA Boxing, the governing body approved by the State Athletic Commission in 1999. USA Boxing is the only sanctioning body authorized to sanction amateur events in the state of Oklahoma.
Joe Miller of the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission said that after making contact with president of the Local Boxing Committee of USA Boxing Jack McCann, he was informed that the committee was unaware that the event was taking place.
"It was billed as being an amateur event. [McCann] said they had no knowledge of that event and have never had knowledge of it," Miller said. "By virtue of that, this has been billed as an illegal event, which I've had to take action against by law."
The commission is now working with the Attorney General's office to gather information and how to proceed.
"This is a serious problem in the state of Oklahoma," Miller said. "Inherently boxing is a dangerous sport. Injuries can occur. Deaths can occur, but that's what the commission is for, to minimize that."
In his four seasons at TU, Clinkscale was a two-year starter, with 98 career tackles – including 58 in his final season suiting up for the Golden Hurricane. He was one of just five freshmen to earn a letter in his freshman season, playing in 12 games, finishing with 12 total tackles. He missed the majority of the 2006 season due to an injury.
Tulsa head coach Bill Blankenship released a statement Thursday about Clinkscale's death.
"George was much too young to be taken from us. He was an extremely passionate and bright young man who will be greatly missed and long remembered by his teammates and coaches. The thing I was most excited about in George's life right now was how tremendously excited he was to be a father. He was passionate about working as a football coach and how much he could make a difference with those young men. It's a tragic loss for all of us."
"We are heartbroken about the devastating loss of George Clinckscale. He was a vital part of our football family here at Central and he will be with us in heart forever," said Tulsa Central head football coach Dan Phillips. "His impact upon these young men was so positive simply because of his sincerity. We loved Coach G. and we hope to make him proud in our efforts on the field and in our everyday lives."
The medical examiner will determine the cause of Clinkscale's death. The athletic commission says the Attorney General's office will handle the state investigation of the boxing match and determine whether the church that promoted it should face prosecution.