Reporter Digs into Tragic Kickboxing Death

Nov 17, 2014

Kickboxer Dennis Munson, Jr. (at right), fighting in the third and final round of his bout at the Eagles Club in March 2014. Munson died following the fight.
Credit screen capture from MIlwaukee Journal Sentinel video

The story of Dennis Munson, Junior, was one of those news stories that many of us probably noticed briefly and then forgot about.  A young kickboxer from Milwaukee who died only hours after his first official match.

Munson’s death was seen as a tragedy, for certain. But casual observers might have been left with the impression that it was an unfortunate result of what is typically a violent, contact sport.

But an exhaustive investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has revealed more troubling details about what took place in March. Reporter John Diedrich examined Munson's death, and all of the factors surrounding it, for the feature that ran in Sunday's issue.

The story documents apparent errors at nearly every stage - from signs during the fight that Munson was in trouble, to the length of time it took for him to receive medical care, to an ambulance ride to the wrong hospital.

"For those who've looked at this," Diedrich says, "and have worked from inside the sport to try to make it safer, they're troubled by this."

Diedrich's story is also accompanied by a narrated video of the fight and its aftermath, which Diedrich says shows inattention by people who might have been able to intervene sooner - people like the referee and the fight doctor present at the bout.

Unlike the closely related sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), kickboxing is unregulated in Wisconsin, and so no state officials were present at the contest at the Milwaukee Eagles Club.  A police investigation found no laws were broken, and no charges were filed.