On October 20th, 2018, Muay Thai champion Pascal Schroth, stepped into a ring in China to defend his K1 title under what he believed to be regular kickboxing rules. For the 25 year old champion, this bout was just another day at the office. His opponent, Quinghao Meng from Taicang China, was just another body in front of Pascal’s ascent to superstardom. As a matter of fact, Schroth’s confidence was pretty high because he had already beaten Meng the year before.
So on that Saturday night, despite the language barrier, the confusion, and the shady promoters, Schroth walked inside the ring but would have to carried out.
Schroth vs. Meng: Timeline of Events
- October 2017 at Glory 46, Pascal Schroth defeats Quinghao Meng.
- September 5th 2018, rematch is set between K1 champion Pascal Schroth and Quinghao Meng.
- October 11th, WLK ask Schroth if he has ever fought under Sanda rules. Schroth answers no and tells WLK that he only fights under Muay Thai or K1 rules. According to Schroth, WLK agrees that the fight will be under K1 rules.
- On Wednesday 17th of October, Pascal Schroth, along with his coach and several teammates, leave Phuket, Thailand and arrive in China.
- Thursday the 18th, Schroth goes through a promotional tour and does a series of photoshoots and interviews. Schroth is given a script in Chinese to recite during the interviews.
- On Friday the 19th, Schroth weighs ins and does a press conference. Pre-fight rehearsals are scheduled for that evening, but for unexplained reasons, the rehearsals are rescheduled for the 20th at 1pm; the day of the fight.
- On Saturday the 20th, Schroth and the rest of the non-Chinese fighters have to wait 40 minutes to start rehearsals. The rehearsals go on for around 30 minutes.
- Around 6pm, Pascal Schroth arrives at the stadium. Up to this point, there hasn’t been any fighters’ meeting, rules have not been established, and fighters have not been examined by any doctor.
- At around 7pm, Schroth’s bout against Meng begins. The fighters touch gloves. Within the first minute, Meng wraps his arms around Schroth’s waist, picks him up and slams the German to the ground head first. Ten seconds later, the champion is counted out by the referee. He is eventually placed on a stretcher and carried out the ring into an ambulance and taken to a hospital.
- Sunday the 21st. X-rays and scans are administered in silence. Schroth has yet to see a doctor and hasn’t received a diagnose of his injury.
- On Monday the 22th, Schroth returns to Phuket Thailand where he is properly diagnosed with a broken C5 vertebrae.
Pascal Schroth Interview
Hello Pascal, how are you?
I’m doing well, trying to recover and stay positive.
So what happened on Saturday, the 20th of October?
I flew to China to fight Meng, someone I had beaten the year before. I was supposed to be the 7th fight of the evening. I get ready to go backstage but the fight that was actually scheduled after mine was pushed before mine, without my knowledge. So I just waited for a bit. That fight was an MMA fight. So after waiting for a little while, I went backstage with my coach. Around the same time, my opponent arrived. I noticed that he had both his knees and his right shin taped. I wondered why?
They announced me first into the ring. It was nothing unusual, just a quick announcement and walk in. Meng was then announced and he entered the stage with a group of dancers and fireworks. He was the favorite of the event, that was clear. I actually did not know this before but turns out, the event that was held in Taicang City, is actually where Qinghao Meng is from.
In the ring, the referee told us not to throw elbows and no knee strikes to the head. That was confusing as under K1 rules, knees to the head are allowed. Everything leading up to this moment was already confusing; now it was time to fight. You can imagine the stress that was already leading up to this moment of the actual fight. But I stayed focused and was just going to fight a K1 fight, that’s what I do, and that’s what I agreed to fight.
The fight starts. We touch gloves. I throw the first punch, I switched my stance and I got him straight in the face with my left. He push kicked me away and threw boxing combinations which I blocked. We end up in close range, I kneed him to the body with my right and then felt him wrap his arms around my waist. I tried to push my weight back but he adjusted his grip.
At this point I really didn’t understand what was going on, I thought, What is he doing and why is the referee not breaking us apart?
He then suddenly picks me up and slams me to the ground head first. It happened fast. I saw my own feet in the air with all the bright lights above.
When I landed, I could feel and hear the crack in my neck and I was in immediate pain. Next, I see the referee standing over me and giving me the count. I see a glimpse of my opponent celebrating in his corner. I desperately tried to stand up but it was impossible, I couldn’t lift my head. I realized I was injured. I was in incredible pain but kept trying to get up. There was nothing I wanted more then just simply stand up. They placed a neck supporter on me, put me on some kind of a gurney, and carried me out of the ring. I didn’t realize what was happening: this all happened very fast. They put me in an ambulance and brought me to a hospital.
How did this fight come about?
I was offered to fight for the organization WLK on Saturday, 20th of October in Taicang City, China. The fight was set to be under K1 rules, 3 rounds, 3 minutes in the 70 kg weight category. The fight was against the Chinese fighter, Qinghao Meng, whom I had fought before making this a rematch. We fought before for Glory 46, in October 2017. I beat Meng by points. This fight was confirmed on the 5th of September, 2018. On the 11th of October, WLK sends me a message asking if I had ever fought a ‘Sanda’ fight before. I answer them no, I was not familiar with that fight style.
I tell WLK that I only fight K1. I then get the reply, “Yeah, sure, same K1, but 70kg no more.”
And that was the end of that discussion. That was the only conversation we ever had about the rules of the fight.
What did they tell you at the hospital?
At the hospital I didn’t understand a thing. No one spoke English. They tried to calm me down, but not knowing anything at all is not very comforting or relaxing. I asked for a phone so I could contact my girlfriend in Phuket and let her know what happened. I wasn’t sure if anyone would take care of letting my people know, and I knew my family and friends must have been watching the fight. I sent her a text from someone’s Instagram account. In my text, I told my girlfriend that I was in the hospital but that I was okay, she should not worry. I knew she would take care of letting my family know.
What happened after that?
They wheeled me in for an X-ray. They then wheeled me back into the waiting area. There were maybe 6 or 8 people in that area. I was laying flat on the gurney, unable to move, so my view was the ceiling and the top of people’s heads. This was a hectic environment, I had no understanding of anything; I tried to read all the signs hanging in the ceilings to understand where I was going as they wheeled me from one place to another. Then I heard someone say the word “broken”. I repeatedly asked into the crowd, “What is broken, is my neck broken?” Then someone came up to me and said “Yes, your neck is broken.”
How did that make you feel?
Since I was a kid, I remember always thinking if you break your neck you’re dead. My grandmother broke her neck and passed away. Of course there are different levels of the injury of a broken neck. I wanted to understand my injury. At this moment, the only thing I was sure of, is that I would have to take a long break from my career. I started to feel emotional.
Do you feel that this was an accident or do you feel it was intentional?
It was intentional. I had beaten Meng before. This was not a rematch, it was a revenge.
Has the promotion compensated you for your injuries. Have they taken care of you financially?
Ha… The promoter asked me what I wanted. Again, I still had not realized this was even happening, I didn’t have the full understanding of this whole thing. I didn’t know how long I would have to recover, I didn’t know when I would fight again, but I realized that all of my plans for this year, at least, had to be cancelled. I felt very uncomfortable making this negotiation as I just didn’t know enough of my own condition. But knowing the loss of income for the next few months, I decide to ask for 15,000 yuan (around $2,000 US) per month, for 6 months, and I asked for my opponent’s fight purse along with my own, and for them to cover my future medical and rehab bills.
Someone translated my request which seemed to upset the promoter.
WLK’s counter offer was 5,000 yuan ($700 USD) per month for 3 months. I refused their counter offer. They then started to argue among themselves again. I didn’t understand a thing. I told the representative for the promotion that my request was not a lot to ask for. They finally offered me 50,000 yuan, which is about $7,200 US in cash right then and there. It didn’t feel right, but it was the best thing I could get. I accepted the money.
What is the exact injury?
I broke my C5 vertebrae. I can move my arms and my legs, but I cannot turn my head left or right, nor can I move it up or down.
Are you in pain?
Luckily there is no pain, but it is very uncomfortable. The brace digs in my back and I’m limited. I can’t sleep. I can’t move.
So what is next for you now?
Now I just want to recover, but as you can imagine, this situation is very stressful. There are a lot of things going on that I cannot talk about due to legal matters. I want WLK to pay for my rehabilitation and medical bills. It’s the right thing to do.
What would you tell other fighters to do in this situation?
I know as fighters that all we want to do is fight, and that sometimes we take bad fights or bad deals because we feel we have no choice. But there is always a choice. Make sure you know the rules and make sure you fight for good promotions.
Are you considering fighting again once you recover?
Of course. My doctor in Phuket told me that there are 2 types of people. The first is a person who gets angry and lets a situation like this scare them. They get traumatized and they never want to do anything anymore. The other type of person is the one who doesn’t let an injury interfere with their goals. I fall into the second category. I am a fighter, this is just another fight. I will be back stronger than ever.
Catch the audio version of this interview with Pascal Schroth on Catching Wreck.
Pierre Smith started his journey in martial arts after witnessing Bruce Lee on the silver screen. He began training Tae Kwon Do, earning his black belt by his 18th birthday. He took up Muay Thai in 2000, training under Kru Nestor in New York City. Later on, Pierre moved to South Florida and trained at American Top Team under Olympic gold medalist Howard Davis Jr. Today, Pierre teaches Muay Thai and personal fitness in the South Florida region. Pierre can be reached by Email at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Instagram and his blog Catching Wreck.