MONDAY, March 15th, 2004, AT 6:15 PM, PT
HISTORY OF THE
GEORGIA BOXING COMMISSION
With Mixed Martial Arts
Augusta's Ultimate Fighting Championship on, for now
A History of them trying to Take Over MMA Starting With The UFC!
May 30, 1997: By Bill Syken, Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
The almost-anything-goes Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has escaped the rule of the Georgia State Boxing Commission, at least for now. Tonight's Ultimate Fighting event will go on at the Augusta Richmond County Civic Center as scheduled because Richmond County Superior Court Judge Bernard Mulherin on Thursday shot down the boxing commission's last-minute attempt to get a temporary restraining order. The request for the order was made too late, he said.
A lawyer from the state attorney general's office argued that permitting the fight would damage the state of Georgia by allowing a promoter to sidestep boxing commission rules. But Judge Mulherin said he would do far greater damage to promoters and the Civic Center by stopping the event a day before it was set to take place. ``As far as that's concerned, this is an easy call,'' Judge Mulherin said. The Civic Center made $27,000 on an Ultimate Fighting Championship event this fall attended by more than 3,000 people. Tonight's event had already sold 1,800 tickets, and this event typically draws a big walk-up crowd, said Patrick Cumiskey, Civic Center general manager.
Semaphore Entertainment Group, a New York-based company, expects 150,000 orders for the event on pay-per-view television at $21.95 a pop, lawyers said. A cancellation would cost the company millions, they said. The question of whether Ultimate Fighting should be governed by the state boxing commission to be answered another day, when it can be more fully researched. In Ultimate Fighting, men from karate, wrestling other aggressive sports fight in an octagon-shaped ring where few rules apply. Some states have banned Ultimate Fighting because of its brutality. The state's lawyer argued that because Ultimate Fighting combatants include kick-boxers and karate experts, the event falls under the commission's jurisdiction. The commission sanctions karate and kick-boxing competitions. Ultimate Fighting never applied for a license to put on its event. "If this even goes on unsanctioned, it will encourage other promoters to avoid applying for a state license", said Denise PackWhiting, a lawyer with the Georgia Attorney General's office. The state boxing commission requires safety standards for events it licenses. Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers wrote an opinion in November that Ultimate Fighting should be governed by the state boxing commission. Judge Mulherin noted Mr. Bowers' opinion, but said it is not binding. Ultimate Fighting's lawyers argued their sport is distinct, even though it draws fighters from the kick-boxing and karate. ``You can't expect the court to be able to determine that fact at a short hearing of this nature,'' Judge Mulherin said.
MORE HISTORY OF GEORGIA BOXING COMMISSION
The Ultimate Ruling
June 3, 1997: Augusta Chronicle Editorial Staff
Imagine if you poured your money, time and effort into sponsoring a large entertainment event. Then, at the last minute, outside forces suddenly step in to cancel it. All that work and investment goes down the drain. That almost happened to the promoters of last Friday night's Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center when the Georgia Boxing Commission unexpectedly intervened Thursday. The panel sought a restraining order on grounds that New York-based Semaphore Entertainment Group was trying to sidestep Georgia's rules on boxing, kick-boxing and karate competitions.
Though Ultimate Fighting combines aspects of all those disciplines and some others as well, it is not clear that such events even come under the Commission's supervision. But the real outrage is that the panel could have moved to resolve this and other issues long before it did. The fact that it waited until the eve of the fights suggests commissioners were more interested in inflicting financial damage on the promoters and the Civic Center and, perhaps, in casting themselves in a favorable public relations light.
Ultimate Fighting is a niche sport, much loved by its avid fans, many of whom travel across the country to see the mayhem. But is deplored by many others who find some of these matches barbaric. Several states have even banned Ultimate Fighting. If Georgia wants to impose a ban, fine. But it should be done by a majority of the General Assembly, not an unelected Boxing Commission. In the meantime, Richmond County Superior Court Judge Bernard Mulherin did what he had to do, ruling it would be unfair to promoters and the Civic Center to ban the event at the last minute. As for whether the Commission has regulatory authority over Ultimate Fighting, Mulherin was again right on target, pointing out that's a matter to be thrashed out on another day when the court has more time to consider it.
1998: In 1998, Georgia law was changed to specifically remove "ultimate fighting" from the boxing commission's authority. This accomplishment was, in no small part, due to the efforts of current Assistant District Attorney Michael Carlson (Right) and former state Representative Robin Williams. It was a positive action for the sport at that time, but it left MMA officially unregulated. Ultimately, this would prove to have negative effects as well. Legitimate and unscrupulous promoters alike could now use Georgia as a venue. Eventually, certain promoters would incur the wrath of MMA supporters and state officials combined by blatantly ignoring obvious safety concerns and thumbing their noses at legitimate sanctioning bodies, such as the ISCF. True mixed martial arts fans worst fears were realized when these actions lead to the first version of HB 538 being proposed. That version clearly would have made participating in MMA in Georgia a criminal offense!
1998 - 2001:
The beginning stages of HB 538: The new bill, while making specific exemptions
for sports like amateur boxing, made "unarmed combat"
unlawful. The bill also included criminal sanctions for participating in "unarmed
combat." Even after all of the years of struggle MMA has gone through
to gain credibility, and after the tremendous positive support the sport has
enjoyed in Georgia, "ultimate fighting" was specifically
included as to what would constitute "unarmed combat". MMA was
very close to being explicitly illegal in Georgia.
Fortunately for MMA fans, Georgia has an extensive network of MMA supporters. One of them who has been a major part in keeping MMA legal in Georgia has been Augusta Georgia Assistant District Attorney Michael Carlson. Carlson is the same man who was present and ready to testify in support of SEG (UFC's Event) at the 1997 Augusta hearing, and who also participated in the effort to take MMA away from the Boxing Commission in 1998. He was warned by several sources in the Georgia State Government that a bill was being introduced which could be trouble for legitimate promoters of MMA.
Carlson and several others gathered information supporting the safety record of MMA versus that of other sports prepared for a major offensive on behalf of the sport. Coordinating with Georgia MMA's old ally Robin Williams, Carlson began mounting an "all out offensive" in the State assembly to keep MMA legal in his home state. Carlson working with open-minded representatives of both parties in the Georgia House and Senate to champion the cause of MMA. He took the position that although certain irresponsible promoters had no place in Georgia, there were legitimate promoters, fans and athletes, who did participate in MMA responsibly who would be hurt by the proposed law. Carlson sought a provision to protect them. After weighing several options, an amendment was made which provided that MMA competition, if in any way waged for profit, will be legal in Georgia, if and only if the competition is "approved, sanctioned, and/or endorsed" by the ISCF. This language was included in the final version of the bill, which was signed into law by Governor Barnes, and it opened the door to the progressive growth of MMA in Georgia.
April 26th, 2001: Georgia Governor Roy Barnes signed into law a bill (HB 538) which, in part, makes provisions for legitimate, legally operated MMA events. Georgia has previously been a back-and-forth battleground state for the acceptance of the misunderstood sport, and in fact this bill as it was originally introduced would have banned MMA altogether. to Read full story, CLICK HERE.
History of HB 194: The House (Democrat controlled)
proposed a bill that would add ISKA and WKA as MMA sanctioning bodies.
It was passed and went to the Republican controlled Senate.
Due to its employ of a felon, ISKA was stricken as an additional sanctioning body for MMA. WKA was left in
At the time ISKA was removed, another amendment to the bill was added. That was to ban felons from promoting and prevent sanctioning bodies from using felons as promoters. This would have applied to MMA and Kickboxing. There was a criminal penalty involved.
Senators Cheeks, Hall and Brush introduced these amendments. They were passed unanimously by the Senate. Then, the bill went back to the House. The choice was clear to all, Leave WKA in and keep felons out of MMA and KB or Keep the law the way it was (ISCF exclusive). With these choices in mind, it was the people who originally sponsored HB 194 in the house who decided that they would rather drop WKA than keep felons out of positions of trust and responsibility. WKA in and felons out would have been fine with the Senate. They sent it over to the House that way after all. When faced with no felons in the promoting business, the original sponsors of the bill apparently decided they liked the law as it was. The Senate was willing to accept this. The law was passed with ISCF remaining the exclusive MMA sanctioning body (in lieu of the "felon ban") and WKA allowed to sanction Shidokan. In pertinent part, it is codified at O.C.G.A. § 43-4B-1.
So, the message was clear. The Georgia Senate unanimously decided that:
1: It does not want sanctioning bodies that works with felons to promote in Georgia; and
2: It does not want felons promoting the martial sports in Georgia.
This is no matter of speculation. It is all a public record, as
set forth above.
For whatever reasons, there seems to be a small group of individuals that do not like the fact that the ISCF is the only allowed MMA Sanctioning body in the state of Georgia. however, the problem is not here with the ISCF. The problem needs to be directed to the people who inserted WKA and ISKA in the first place and NOT IKF/ISCF or ANYBODY in the Senate. If they would have "JUST SAID NO" to felons, WKA would be legally authorized to sanction MMA in Georgia today. If ISKA would not have accepted a convicted felon as a promoter, they too would probably be legally authorized to sanction MMA in Georgia today.
The facts about the Georgia MMA issues are very clear and all of this information is the record of the Georgia General Assembly. The ISCF has the duty and responsibility to follow the wishes of the legislature. If ISCF were to circumvent the wishes of said legislature, then we would be placing our own existence in Georgia in jeopardy. The situation in Georgia is in no way, shape or form about perpetuating a "monopoly" as several have been claiming it to be. All WKA, or any other sanctioning body has to do is satisfy the wishes of the Georgia Legislature and they have the ability to sanction MMA in Georgia. However, we ask, "What makes a sanctioning body?" To date, NO ONE has seen any MMA rules from ISKA's so called MMA division nor has anyone seen any rules from WKA's so called MMA division. No rules, no regulations, no safety standards, requirements, rankings, NOTHING! Just some letters slapped together. So do their letters alone make them a "Sanctioning Body?" Absolutely not!
February 2004: Bill hb558 introduced. Click Here for the Bill text. To read the entire bill CLICK HERE. Those sponsoring the bill include: Alan Powell, 23rd, Buddy DeLoach, 127th, Mike Boggs, 145th and Mark Burkhalter, 36th.
Les Scheinder is an attorney lobbyist pushing HB 558. Interestingly, his firm profile notes that he is on the State Boxing Commission. It is sort of funny no one is calling this a "conflict of interest."
THE INTRODUCTION OF BILL HB 558
"The reason this is happening is because MMA IS MORE POPULAR THAN BOXING in Georgia.
We attract crowds of 2000+ now.
Tom Mishou and the boxing commission want to cash in because they regulated Boxing to death.
Good job Tom!" Cal Cooper
WHY Do We NOT Want HB 558to Pass?
It Has NOTHING To Do With The Word MONOPLOY!
BRIEF ANALYSIS OF
If you are reading this and plan on fighting in the State of Georgia and thinking this bill does not effect you, you need to read closer. This bill directly attacks EVERYONE in sport Martial Arts from "Karate Point Fighting" to Full contact Kickboxing & MMA!
Keep in mind that this covers pro-wrestling too which would fuel the fire of suspicions that this is designed to clear out all of the competition for boxing and that small promoters will be crushed.
Sanctioning bodies (all of them) will also (foreseeable) take a hit.
This section maps out the various definitions that apply throughout the rest of the bill. They are important to recognize as those definitions dictate how the terms of the bill would apply if it were enacted as law. The broad definition of "martial art" is particularly instructive:
(10.1) 'Martial art' means any form of unarmed combative sport or unarmed combative entertainment that allows contact striking, except boxing or wrestling.
This section sets forth the organizations that are exempt from the act. In essence, amateur boxing and amateur wrestling will not fall under the authority of the boxing commission. A list of these excluded organizations is listed in the statute. Not one martial arts organization, from ISCF to NASKA is included on the list. Amateur kickboxing, mixed martial arts, point karate and tae kwon do all allow "contact striking." As such, they would all fall under the definition of "Martial arts" in section 10.1 (see above). This being the case, even at the amateur level, they would be subject to the control of the Georgia State Boxing Commission and the requirements of HB 558.
This section provides that the appointment to the state boxing commission is political, and indicates that "hold over" appointments are allowed. No other criteria are indicated.
Reports from boxing promoters to the commission as to ticket sales are set forth here.
This section criminalizes the promotion of "unarmed combat." Under the definitions set forth in Section 43-4B-1 this would apply to any martial arts (as defined above) competition not controlled and approved of by the state boxing commission.
This section to ticket brokers and fees that they can charge. Generally speaking, ticket brokers are those who sell tickets for events that are not the venue holder or sponsor.
This section provides for a total takeover of the martial sporting business at all levels by the State Government. The plain and unambiguous language calls for the following.
*The state boxing commission to have authority over all organizations that authorize martial arts and wrestling matches.
*The state boxing commission would dictate the rules for all martial arts competitions.
*The state boxing commission would determine the standards to determine who will participate in all martial arts competitions.
*The state boxing commission would be able to charge an annual licensure fee for sanctioning bodies (labeled as "licensed organizations").
*The state boxing commission would be able to charge annual licensure fee for promoters (labeled as "holders of match permits").
*The state boxing commission could (at its own discretion) charge sanctioning bodies for its providing (at the its own discretion) of "oversight services," at any and all martial arts matches.
If HB 558 is passed its language would require a total and complete appropriation of all martial sports competitors from the smallest point tournament to the largest pay-per-view mixed martial arts event. There is no limit on the authority of the state boxing commission and no requirement that these political appointees have any knowledge or interest in the positive development of the martial sports. There is also no check on what the boxing commission can charge promoters for licensure fees or for "oversight services." In other words, under HB 558, there is no limit to what can be demanded here.
Here, the annual fee for a sanctioning body is set at $1,000.00 per year. A "permit fee" of up to $250.00 for "each match, contest, or exhibition," held in Georgia is also provided for in this section. Both are to be paid to the state boxing commission. The clear and unambiguous language of this stature would allow for promoters to be charged by the state for "each match" on a given card. A ten bout card, then, if that language were enforced as written, would cost the promoter $2,500.00, payable to the state. Significantly, where this section sets limits on the annual charges for sanctioning bodies and for "permit fees," there is no limit to what could be levied against promoters for annual fees and for the "oversight fees" set forth in 43-4B-50.
Martial arts sanctioning bodies would be required to report all matches to the state boxing commission, as well as an evaluation on the fitness of the athletes 7 days before any bout. The section also requires reporting ticket sales, revenues and sales tax as well as "any other information the [boxing] commission shall require" within 72 hours after an event.
Here, no one who has ever been "convicted of a crime of moral turpitude," can serve in a representative capacity for a sanctioning body. It also makes it a crime for anyone who has any association with a sanctioning body to receive any compensation in connection with a bout. Several matters jump out here. First, no job carries more responsibility with it than that of the promoter. This bill does not preclude those who have plead guilty to felonies from promoting. Also, there is no penalty listed in this section for sanctioning bodies that violate the provision against felons. At the same time, if a member of a sanctioning body board of advisors came to judge a point karate tournament or referee a kickboxing match, he or she could not be paid anything for it. Not gas money, not hotel room, not a meal voucher. Nothing at all of value could be legally accepted that could ever be deemed "compensation" by anyone who could ever be deemed a "member" of a sanctioning body. Clearly, this would annihilate the kind of grass roots support and extended family atmosphere that the martial arts foster, thrive with and depend upon for continued growth and development. By operation, it will also preclude anyone who the boxing commission does not select from being an official at an event. In that way, it will render sanctioning bodies obsolete and/or too costly and administratively difficult to employ.
The net effect of moving sanctioning bodies out will cripple the development of the martial sports. Titles and ranking will have far less meaning and, thus, fighter will have less to shoot for as goals. And with the added expense of promotion due to this bill, the pay will be far less for them, too. That, of course, would funnel more athletes into boxing as their other options were narrowed.
This section gives the state boxing commission the power to suspend, fine or revoke permits to any entity that violates its rules and agenda. This is down to the last match. No limit is put on the state boxing commission's power here. It can fine as much as it wants and it can suspend whoever it wants for whatever reason it wants. There is no right or ability to appeal. In fact there is no body to which an appeal can be made. This represents a format of no checks and balances at all. With this sort of format in place, abuses of power and corruption are encouraged.
The state boxing commission would be authorized to exempt organizations from any and all of these requirements. There is no check or appellate right on its ability to do so one way or the other. There are guidelines for the state boxing commission to consider here, but the decision, either way, can still be arbitrary. Interestingly, keeping the activity safe from the criminal element is not a listed criterion. This is another example of the kind of unbridled power that this bill would give the state boxing commission. It is difficult to see how the martial arts and martial sports could survive, much less grow, if it is passed.
To answer the Lies going around...
Comments From The
MMA Message Board
SAVE MMA IN GEORGIA!!!! READ THIS NOW! TODAY (Friday the 12th) the GEORGIA
SENATE may give control of MMA to the ATHLETIC COMMISSION. SAVE your sport!!
Yesterday, Thursday, the GEORGIA HOUSE of REPS passed House Bill 558. If the
GEORGIA SENATE passes it today we're all screwed, just like Florida was screwed
by their law.
THEY WANT MONEY FROM EVERYONE!!
The Athletic Commission - headed by greedy Tom Mishou - is planning to charge $1000.00 per year to promotions, plus $250.00 PER BOUT, plus $3.00 PER TICKET!! This is outrageous. Let's keep this straight to the point. The same forces who tried to screw up MMA sanctioning in Georgia last year are at it again, ONLY THIS TIME IT"S FAR WORSE!!!!
Last year, along with the ISKA, they tried to mess things up with legislation that would have brought criminal elements into MMA and left the door open for unwanted scrutiny. In the meantime MMA HAS BECOME MORE POPULAR THAN BOXING in Georgia. Now the absolute worst has happened. The ATHLETIC COMMISSION is trying to take over MMA in their own name - not the ISKA's name. However, this is the same group of people who backed the ISKA power grab last year!
Oh BTW, there is also a little note which allows specifically for CONVICTED FELONS to be able to promote fights. Who does that sound like?? I'll give you three guesses and the first two don't count: Lane Collyer.
What should you do? Contact your Georgia Senator TODAY! THIS MORNING! A list of GA Senators: CLICK HERE!
A 'find your Senator' page: CLICK HERE!
Write your e-mails and GET ON THE PHONE!! Tell your SENATOR to VOTE NO on HB558! Tell them this bill does bad things to good people! Cal Cooper
Under the ISCF over the past few years the GA fight scene has grown by leaps and bounds. We have an average of 1 event every 3 weeks in this state. Under the new bill, the amount of fight events will decrease colossally. The fees being imposed by the boxing commission will be so high that no promoter in the state will be able to afford to promote MMA shows... unless of course some promoters are in the back pocket of the commission and can have the fees waived. Bottom line = less promoters = less shows. Higher fees = less money for fighter's purses. Thirdly, having criminal elements running the MMA shows, as well as a boxing commission that KNOWS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ABOUT THE SPORT OF MMA, opens up the floodgates for unpaid fighters, officials and all kinds of unwanted, unscrupulous shenannigans. Is that what we want? Do we really want an organization regulating our sport that knows absolutely nothing about it? Much less... do we want an organization that has vested interest AGAINST MMA in so many capacities to be over MMA? I don't... Like I said, these are the tangible problems that concern EVERYONE. These are the things that are public for everyone to see and points for everyone to consider. This is not taking into account any personal agendas held by other parties for either personal or monetary gain. Think about it and act accordingly. Save MMA in our state. Thanks for listening- Cam McHargue