Tuesday, September 7, professional mixed martial arts fighter and Shine fights lightweight grand prix competitor James Warfield (15-6) boarded Delta Airlines flight DL5395 from Detroit, Michigan to Wichita, Kansas. He expected to fly down that night, wake up, and go weigh-in, well rested for his shot at Shine Fights gold. Instead, he and corner man Pat O’Malley (13-8) ended up driving from Madison, Wisconsin to Newkirk, Oklahoma to make the fights. Now James goes into Shine Fights having missed a valuable night of rest prior to the fights. Why? According to the US Air Marshals that removed James and his corner man from the flight, no reason. According to former UFC fighter and Minnesota BAR attorney “The Goat” Nick Thompson (38-11-1), it’s a matter of discrimination based on James’ race and appearance.
MMA Gospel spoke with Nick Thompson (not wishing to disrupt James Warfield’s pre-fight preparations) concerning the incident. “A flight attendant asked if James could move a bag from under his seat to the overhead compartment” Nick said, “He did and then asked the attendant why it was necessary because the bag was not obstructing any aisles and fit under the seat easily.” Then, for no apparent reason, the flight attendant became combative and aggressive, prompting Pat O’Malley to intervene. Pat asked the attendant what the problem was as James had already complied with the request and had only asked a question. In response, the attendant asked a US Sky Marshal to have them removed.
“When they walked off the plane they were calm and offered no argument or resistance.” Nick said. “There were no citations against them and they were provided a flight back to Madison.” The question here is why were they removed if they did nothing worthy of being charged with a violation? Pat also mentioned that despite their calm demeanor and compliance, both the Marshal and flight attendant maintained an aggressive and condescending attitude through out the process up until the point that Pat called his attorney.
“They were insulting us and trying to push us around until I called Nick. As soon as I had a lawyer on the phone, they calmed down real quick. Guess they thought the n****r and a piece of white trash they thought we were wouldn’t have a lawyer.” Pat said. “This was bullshit. They saw a scrappy white guy and a black guy both covered in tattoos and just assumed we were thugs and had us booted from our flight.”
“I still haven’t heard any charges from Delta or the Marshal so at this point it’s very easy to see that this is a case of racism,” Nick told MMA Gospel. “They see a black kid covered in tattoos and immediately label him a thug.”
MMA Gospel has contacted the Delta Airlines media relations department about the affair and expects to have a comment concerning the reasons for and the circumstances leading to the ejection in the near future. Details will be posted as they become available.