Friday, August 27, 2010

KARK News Investigates...Young Wrestler Dies, Family Says Someone's Responsible

Reported by: Lauren Trager, KARK 4 News little Rock Ark.


Now, one family says it's gone too far. their son dying, they say, at the hands of wrestlers who don't know what they're doing.




"He's always wanted to wrestle ever since he was 4 years old. Army and Wrestling, that's all he ever wanted to do,” said David Hagler.

Hagler worried for his son overseas but never imagined what would happened to him at home.




Jeremy Wood, an Iraq War veteran just days away from his 21st birthday, had believed his dream was coming true.

Captivated by the wrestling world, he was an announcer already at one Jackson County ring, he'd been baited by a competitor, the Southern Wrestling Alliance in Newport, told he could train immediately to take the ring.

"I think they took advantage of him and took it too far," Hagler said.

Tuesday, August 11th, Jeremy went to SWA for training.

That night, he complained of a headache, but said little else about what had happened to him. he even proudly showed off the chop marks to his chests.

"He went back the next night because he thought that was part of it. But it wasn't. It was just someone taking advantage of him,” Hagler said.

Near the ring, Jeremy collapsed.

At the hospital, they found bleeding on his brain, Friday, he was pronounced dead.

"They took my baby boy and he's not replaceable. No matter what they do or say, he's not replaceable."

Hagler says someone was far too rough that Tuesday night, rough enough to take a life.

"Right now we have no reason to disbelieve our witnesses,” said Lt. Patrick Weatherford.

Lt. Weatherford with the Newport Police Department is investigating, but so far, nothing.

"Right now after interviewing these people we are not able to point our finger at any specific person for event that caused Mr. Wood's injuries."

Internet reports have fueled rumors about what happened. Lt. Weatherford says none have panned out.

But Hagler says something must have happened inside.

"Somebody had to touch him, if he got head trauma. Somebody had to touch him, somebody did something."

We were kicked off SWA property by the owner. Calls to wrestlers there were not returned.

Looking further for answers, we turned to the State Athletic Commission. They say there's nothing they can do. They do not regulate training events, they do not license people who train, they don't even keep tabs on injuries.

"The main thing is when you hit that mat, it's like hitting this pavement, it's going to hurt."


Some wrestlers and promoters like Rickie Rowland say learning to wrestle is serious business. After all, you can't fake gravity.

"If you want to get into wrestling, you need someone who is credible, reputable and knowledgeable in wrestling,” Rowland said.

"If there's not rules or regulations there, it needs to be shut down,” Hagler said.

Hagler says he wants tougher training standards to save others.

"He was not the first one hurt, but I want him to be the last. It could happen to anybody,” he said.

But for himself, he simply wants answers about what happened to his son.

"I just want to know the truth. Just come tell us the truth. The people who did it know who they are. Just let us know the truth," he said.

So far, the police say they are still waiting on the autopsy report before wrapping up their investigation.

An Athletic Commissioner told us he thought they would need to looking into regulating training as a result of Jeremy's death.

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