Mississippi fighter dies weeks after being knocked out at championship event in Biloxi

Mississippi fighter dies weeks after being knocked out at championship event in Biloxi
Mississippi fighter dies weeks after being knocked out at championship event in Biloxi(Facebook/Justin Ray Thornton)
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 3:05 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A bare-knuckle fighter in Mississippi has died weeks after being knocked out during a championship event in Biloxi, NBC News reports.

Justin Thornton, who lived in Natchez at the time of his death, suffered the knockout blow during the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship 20 hosted at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum on August 20.

According to NBC News, Thornton died Sunday at a hospital in Gulfport. In a September 23 post on his personal Facebook page, the fighter was said to be paralyzed and on a ventilator.

Mississippi Athletic Commission Chairman Jon Lewis told NBC News that upon being knocked unconscious inside the ring, Thornton hit the top of his head as he fell in a “diving motion.”

His landing in this position caused a spinal hematoma.

Dillon Cleckler, who was Thornton’s opponent inside the ring at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, issued a statement on social media following Thornton’s passing.

“Justin is a warrior,” Cleckler wrote. “It’s in his blood to fight. He loved it. He fought anyone, anytime and anywhere and when I didn’t have an opponent, he still jumped at the opportunity to get in there with me again.”

Cleckler said that his thoughts and prayers are with Thornton’s family, ending the post with “RIP warrior.”

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