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ABC Blasts New York State For Allowing Unregulated MMA

The Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) has had enough of unregulated, unsanctioned MMA events in New York State, and they’re demanding that something be done about them.

In a letter addressed to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and a few other political bigwigs, the ABC – a non-profit coalition of athletic commissions from throughout the U.S. – blasts New York for its lax stance on unsanctioned combat sports, citing the possibility (and likelihood) of fighters who fail medical screenings in other jurisdictions competing unimpeded in the Empire State.

“New York’s choice to allow wholly unregulated ‘amateur’ MMA bouts has placed not only athletes at risk, but their audiences and their opponents as well. The national databases used by Association members identify athletes suffering from communicable diseases such as Hepatitis B and C. Because there is no mandate that New York ‘amateur’ promoters even make use of Association databases, however, such athletes are free to compete in New York – and thereby place their opponents and even spectators at risk of infection.”

The law banning professional MMA in New York was enacted in 1997. Since then, an underground fight scene flourished. To complicate matters, a 2011 lawsuit filed by Zuffa, LLC against New York, which alleged that the state’s failure to lift the ban was in violation of their Constitutional rights, prompted the New York State Athletic Commission to acknowledge that amateur MMA was in fact legal. This has allowed numerous MMA events with varying degrees of self-regulation to sprout up throughout the state in full light of day.

The ABC also takes issue with the outside sanctioning bodies that have for years had statutory authority to oversee amateur and professional kickboxing in the state. These organizations and the steps they take in regulating kickboxing events are, as per the ABC, inadequate.

“…The oversight of these combat sports competitions has been lodged with various private entities (i.e., exempt “Martial Arts” organizations as defined under the MMA Statute), who have, in many cases, failed to meet the health and safety standards that the Association believes are necessary. For example, athletes who are underage, overage, or under drug or medical suspensions in other jurisdictions have been permitted to participate in Muay Thai and kickboxing competitions in New York. Importantly, the State of New York does not require or mandate that these exempt sanctioning organizations meet any health, safety, medical or reporting requirements.”

With MMA sanctioned in nearly every other state, the bills allowing state-sanctioned combat sports seemingly perpetually mired in legislative quagmire, and amateur MMA events on the rise – with one even occurring in the Bronx this coming Saturday – New York has become a kind of “Wild West” where even no-rules vale tudo fights can happen. While the ABC letter will likely displease some in the NYSAC, the legislature and the governor’s office, it addresses a very real, very pressing issue.

Something must be done.