Grappling Tournament Health Warning Advisory - Dirty Mats nearly caused AMPUTATION in 2009!!!

BrianCimins's picture

SCARY NEWS: Grappling Promoter's Dirty Mats Cause STAPH Infection which nearly led to ARM AMPUTATION!

Nearly a year ago, one of the most famous grapplers in American History shared a horrifying story with me about how he contracted a very serious staph infection from competing at a well-known nationwide Grappling tournament (for the record, it was NOT Grapplers Quest). The infection was so severe that it nearly forced doctors to AMPUTATE HIS ARM due to the strong and medicine resistant infection!

Can you BELIEVE that?!?! It's 100% true and could have been one of the saddest stories in grappling or MMA history. Could you imagine innocently participating in a grappling or wrestling event and because the promoter wouldn't hire a doctor for $300 for the day, you contracted HERPES on your cheek for LIFE?

This well respected and decorated submission grappling and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitor who contracted Staph requested I not release his name or the grappling tournament organization's name associated with this extremely scary incident, but ultimately, this is so very alarming, it's a GRAPPLING TOURNAMENT HEALTH ADVISORY that needs immediate attention.

If you don't know your local grappling tournament's HEALTH SAFETY and preventative measures, step away from the registration table and RUN - your LIFE could depend on it!

We are all in this together and as a community, we need to inform all competitors, coaches, promoters and attendees with the knowledge to question the health safety of the competitors and competition surfaces you compete on.

We all need to UNITE to FORCE Grappling promoters worldwide to ensure our safety on the mats and to help avoid the spread of any communicable diseases. Please help us POLICE promoters worldwide and even police competitors yourself by bringing it to the promoter's attention immediately. Remember, that competitor may NOT be in your division, but his/her virus could be on the same dirty mat you'll be competing on later. Makes you want to be more PROACTIVE, right? PLEASE GET INVOLVED, THE SPORT NEEDS YOU!

We are PROUD to announce that Grapplers Quest sanitizes our competition mats fully each event (or receives brand new mats from Zebra Mats each and every show nationwide - More info on Zebra at:

We also hire two doctors who perform skin checks at every Grapplers Quest Grappling Tournament event nationwide to help protect the grappling community's health.

SPONSOR REQUEST: We're still waiting on a NATIONAL Mat Cleaning sponsor to step up for 2010, so if anyone's interested, please visit:

SPONSOR PLUG: Super Body Care (and some other partners) provides every Grapplers Quest event nationwide with Body Wipes for pre-match and post-fight wipe downs available on each scorers table. Promoters, Coaches or Gym Owners can purchase them for your gym, academy or home, go to:

Also, to increase the protective barriers for competitors participating in our events, as of June 1st, 2010, all Grapplers Quest competitors are MANDATED to compete in a Rashguard which assists in blocking skin to skin contact. We highly recommend a rashguard which is made of Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Fungal and Anti-Viral material, like Grapplers Quest rashguards:

WARNING: The pictures below are VERY graphic and not suitable for all audiences. Competing in a grappling tournament who doesn't sanitize mats or who doesn't hire the proper medical staff to diagnose communicable diseases to disqualify participants can INFECT, MAIM OR KILL YOU!

The sport of grappling is very tactile. With every move and every throw comes the risk of obtaining skin infections. The danger of skin infections is a growing concern among wrestlers, parents, coaches, and officials. Prevention and early diagnosis is very important.

One of the most important things to remember is proper hygiene. Athletes are encouraged to shower immediately after grappling practice or competition. When showering, it is important to use a mesh scrub with antibacterial soap. This aids in removing any unwanted bacteria and infections the athlete might have picked up during skin to skin contact1. Another important prevention technique is to thoroughly clean and disinfect all grappling mats as well as equipment, including all uniforms and towels1, after every use. Athletes should also be discouraged from sharing such items as unwashed towels and uniforms even shoes and headgear. Following proper hygiene practices and thorough disinfection techniques can greatly decrease the risk of obtaining skin infections among wrestlers.

When prevention is not enough it is important to get treatment of skin infections at the first sign of the infection. The key to this is to know what to look for. Some common types of skin infections found in grappling include ring worm, herpes simplex, staphylococcus infection (staph infection), and impetigo.

RINGWORM: The most common infection found in grappling is Tinea Corporis, also know as ring worm. Tinea Corporis is actually a fungal infection and not a worm, as the name implies. This skin infection appears red and scaly in a ring formation with a clear center. Ring worm is highly contagious and can develop in many different areas of the body including the feet (Athletes foot), the groin (jock itch), face or trunk (ring worm), the scalp, and in the nail beds2. The lesions may or may not itch. If ring worm is suspected it is very important to begin treatment immediately. Treatments include topical antifungal creams or oral antifungal medication. Treatment should be applied twice daily for 1-4 weeks. Athletes may return to competition after 3 days of topical treatment use2. Lesions should be covered during practice and competition and all equipment and towels should be washed daily.

HERPES: Herpes simplex is another common infection and, just as ring worm, is an extremely contagious virus. Herpes is a viral infection and often appears as a fever blister, genital herpes, or herpes gladiatorum, which can be found on the face or the trunk of the body2. It enters the body through a break in the skin such ad a cut or mat burn. Herpes present itself as a fluid filled blister on top of red skin. Once the blister breaks open it appears with a crusty painful scab2, 3. There is no cure for the herpes virus but treatments include Valtrex and prophylactic medications. Grappling guidelines state that Grapplers Quest competitors may not participate in practice or competition until they are asymptomatic, without a new blister for 3 days, or if the athlete has taken medication for at least 5 days.

Herpes gladiatorum is one of the most infectious of herpes-caused diseases, and is transmissible by skin-to-skin contact. The disease was first described in the 1960s in the New England Journal of Medicine.

While the disease is commonly passed through normal human contact, it is strongly associated with contact sports outbreaks in sporting clubs being relatively common.[1] Other names for the disease are herpes rugbiorum or "scrumpox"[1] (after rugby football), "wrestler's herpes" or "mat pox" (after wrestling). In one of the largest outbreaks ever among high-school wrestlers at a four week intensive training camp, HSV was identified in 60 of 175 wrestlers. Lesions were on the head in 73 per cent of the wrestlers, the extremities in 42 per cent, and the trunk in 28 per cent.[2] Physical symptoms sometimes recur in the skin.[3] Previous adolescent HSV-1 seroconversion would preclude most herpes gladiatorum, but being that stress and trauma are recognized triggers, such a person would be likely to infect others.

STAPH (sounds like Staff): A growing infection that has been spreading through out high school and college locker rooms more recently is staphylococcus infection or staph infection. A recent problem that doctors have found with staph is that some strands have become resistant to antibiotic treatment; this is known as Methicillian Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). What was once confined to hospitals is now creeping into high school and college locker rooms around the country. Staph infection is most commonly spread though skin to skin contact but can also be transmitted through sports equipment, work out areas, and unwashed towels and uniforms.

It first appears as a pimple or ant bite. The wound site will quickly grow to a painful boil that if not cared for will eventually bust open producing a bloody puss like substance that is highly contagious. Staph is very serious and if not treated in the early stages may require hospitalization. It is vital that weight rooms, grappling rooms, and athletic training rooms be thoroughly sanitized if there is any suspicion of staph infection to prevent further spread. Athletes can not be permitted to engage in activity until they have been declared infection free by a doctor.

IMPETIGO: Impetigo is yet another common infection found in wrestlers. It is a highly contagious bacterial infection obtained through broken skin such as cuts and scraps. There are two types of impetigo; bullous and nonbullous2. Bullous impetigo appears as damp red skin that resembles a burn that develops into a blister, filled with a clear or yellow fluid. Nonbullous impetigo, which is the more commonly seen, presents with a yellow honey colored crust over a red base2. Impetigo is most commonly found on the face, arms, legs, and trunk.

Treatment consists of a topical antibiotic such as bactroban. This should be applied to the affected area three times per day for ten days or until the infection is gone2. For large areas of infection an oral medication can be taken. Athletes with impetigo infections may not participate until all blisters and lesion are completely cleared.

The most important things to remember are to practice proper hygiene immediately after every practice or competition using hot water and antibacterial soap, keeping practice areas including weight rooms and equipment properly disinfected, and never to share used towels, equipment, and uniforms with out proper washing. It is always easier to prevent infections from occurring than it is to contract and then treat them.

References for Article:

1. Pennsylvania wrestling magazine: Preventing skin infections, Available at: Accessed December 10, 2006.

2. Cuppett M, Walsh K: General medical conditions in the athlete, Philadelphia, 2005, Mosbey.

3. Lawton R: Skin diseases in grappling, March 6 1999. Available at: Accessed December 10, 2006.

4. (P. Higgs [[email protected]], email, November 23, 2006)

5. Kowalski T J, Berbari EF, Osmon DR, MD: Epidemiology, treatment, and prevention of community-acquired methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infections. Mayo foundation Med Ed Research. 2005; 80(9):1201-1208