Miranda Adkins, And The History Of One of the Most Dangerous Promoters in Combat Sports

Miranda Adkins
Miranda Adkins Credit: Youtube

Miranda Adkins suffered a controversial, brutal seven-second knockout this past weekend — and it’s is nothing new.

Over the past weekend, you likely saw Seniesa Estrada’s brutal seven-second knockout of Miranda Adkins. The clip went viral, as a helpless Adkins didn’t even move her feet at the sound of the bell, eating a massive combination from the oncoming Estrada that put her out cold. Following the bout, many questioned why a 5-0 club-level fighter, with what amounted to a minuscule level of experience, was fighting an 18-0 world champion. However a little bit of digging shows that in this case, we shouldn’t really be surprised.

Miranda Adkins is a woman who began boxing professionally in her 40’s and had five bouts heading into the match with Estrada. Four of her five wins came against opponents who had never fought before, and the fifth win came as a rematch against her fourth opponent. Her opponents currently hold a combined record of 0-8, and reportedly don’t have much boxing experience at all period. Yet with wins against such great and compelling competition, Adkins was matched up with a world champion in Estrada. The outcome, really, was a formality, but it makes much more sense when you look at who was involved in the fight.

Meet John Carden, of Carden Combat Sports. The logo of which was emblazoned on Adkins’ attire as she lay unconscious last Friday. Who happens to be the ex-husband of Adkins [Note: as a few people have noted, the pair are no longer together].

While Golden Boy’s Robert Diaz has taken credit for the mismatch, The Ring reports that Carden may have been involved in landing his wife the bout. Calls to the promoter were not returned.

It’s not the first time his name has been tied in with dangerous matchmaking. Carden, who has been promoting fights under his own promotion for years now, has mainly been relegated to hosting events at fairgrounds in Kansas and Missouri. Mainly featuring local talent in ridiculous mismatches, for absurdly little cash. However low pay is probably the least of his problems as a promoter, rather, it’s the fighters he chooses to display in his matches, or in some cases, it’s not even a fighter at all.

We already went over Adkins’s opponents, however, being bad at boxing is hardly criminal. Mismatches are nothing new. Exploiting the intellectually challenged on the other hand likely is. That’s when James Kindred comes into the picture.

Kindred was a participant in the Special Olympics and may be best known for being showcased on programs such as “America’s Got Talent”, mainly as a feelgood story. And he is one. But on the night of April 16, 2016, the story was anything but feelgood.

Kindred had contacted promoter Carden on a few occasions, saying his dream was to lace up the gloves and compete. Not an uncommon story. However, Carden never took it all that seriously, that was until one of his cards had a fighter fall out. Ten fight veteran Bryan Timmons was without an opponent just prior to weigh-in day and having remembered Kindred, he contacted the Special Olympics competitor and offered him the bout on a few days notice. Kindred accepted.

It is not known if Carden was aware that Kindred was intellectually challenged prior to meeting him. However according to a phenomenal retelling of the events by Charles Jay from BoxingInsider, once Carden met Kindred he likely knew something was up. He was urged by many after meeting Kindred in person that the man should absolutely not complete. Carden didn’t pay much mind, and ultimately set up the bout anyway for the following day at the illustrious No Place Bar in St. Joseph, Missouri.

It’s worth noting that the Missouri Athletic Commission did zero research on Kindred either. Even though his Special Olympics page can be discovered via a quick Google search.

Still, Carden allegedly failed to inform the commission, Kindred’s opponent, or anyone else that Kindred was mentally challenged. He went into fight day almost certainly knowing that he was exposing Kindred to the potential of serious harm.

Luckily, someone who knew Kindred personally saw him at the bout, and informed Timmons that Kindred was mentally challenged. Timmons, being a compassionate human being, initially wanted to pull out of the bout, feeling uneasy about the whole thing. Only after talking with Kindred and seeing how much it meant to him did he decide to go through with the fight — taking it as easy as could be on Kindred.

Still, the bout wouldn’t last long. Timmons would win by TKO after the second round once the referee realized that Kindred had no business being in the ring, dream or not. He was immediately suspended by the Missouri State Athletic Commission and has not boxed since thankfully. Yet if it wasn’t for someone recognizing Kindred, and Timmons being one of the good guys in this story, there’s a possibility that Kindred could have sustained life altering punishment. On top of the other obstacles life had thrown his way. Given how dangerous boxing is, it’s terrible that Kindred was ever allowed in the bout, and even worse when you realize that Carden let it happen.

Jay, in his BoxingInsider story, called the incident “the most egregious and despicable thing I have ever heard of in boxing” in his 30 years in the industry.

However, Carden apparently isn’t one to be held back by little things such as fighter safety, in case you haven’t been paying attention up to this point. Earlier this year, knee-deep in a pandemic, Carden announced he would be holding a hybrid MMA-Boxing card in June in Topeka, Kansas. The card was going to be the first in the state of Kansas since the COVID-19 pandemic had begun. Sounds cool right? The UFC made it happen, after all. It sounds possible, even promising, until one realizes that the card was to be held with no coronavirus testing at all.

Despite being a local show that would normally go unnoticed by the bigger publications, that one made it to ESPN.

Oh, and the card didn’t end up happening in Topeka either. It was moved the week of the event to Abilene, where it was held in a small boxing gym. The fighters were given temperature checks and a questionnaire, but that’s it. It’s also worth noting that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that leads to COVID-19 is highly contagious regardless of whether an infected individual is showing symptoms. So a temperature check and a few simple questions are about as effective as a screen door on a submarine.

The card still went forward in the end. And who could blame Carden? At the end of the day, there were extremely important fights that needed to go down. Such as in the main event where Desmond Jarmon (8-0) took on Mike Fowler (7-27). If you’re not a fan of that perhaps the co-main event was more your cup of tea, where Shawn Simpson (11-0) took on Dakota Laster (3-9-1). All jokes aside, it was another card littered with dangerous mismatches.

So there’s little surprise that Miranda Adkins was marched off to war with apparently zero thought to her safety and well-being. Or maybe there was, and Corden had full faith in his life partner to pull off one of the biggest upsets in boxing. And again, there were multiple other parties who could have, and should have, pulled the plug.

Boxing and MMA are filled with callous promoters who will take advantage of fighters just looking for a paycheck. Greed is one heck of a motivator. Sadly, John Carden may be the worst of these individuals, however, it’s not all on him. It’s also on the Missouri and Kansas athletic commissions for allowing these mismatches to happen in the first place. No system is ever flawless, and try as we might to clean up combat sports it’s likely that dangerous mismatches will always present in boxing and MMA to some extent. However, it’s time to crack down on them before an individual like James Kindred or Miranda Adkins suffers irreversible harm.