From the AOL news room.. Sport still does not get respect in mai stream.
Updated: 01:17 PM EDT
Alive and Thriving in the Midwest: Brawling in Cages
By MICHAEL WILSON, The New York Times
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (July 23) - When they rewind the video of the fight in the cage, all the blood will spray back into Gervis Fool Bull's nose, all the screams will be sucked into the collective chest of the sweating crowd, and the fist will snap back toward the big truck driver from Iowa who threw it, a man with a mohawk haircut who grew up fighting his twin brother in the neighborhood junkyard.
But to find where this punch between strangers really began, the rewinding would have to go back almost three weeks, to the Fourth of July in the lakeside tourist town of Okoboji, Iowa, where the twin brothers were prowling around, drinking, not liking tourists.
Cage fighting matches -- in which amateur fighters use a variety of fighting techniques to vanquish opponents in a sport with few official rules -- are springing up across the Midwest. The sport has been banned in several states.
Talk About It: Post Thoughts
"My goal that night was to beat up the biggest tourist I could find," said Nate Hawn, 20.
He picked a marine, he said, and beat him in the crowded streets. A stranger approached, and the Hawns wondered if he wanted some, too.
The man said that he worked with a promoter of cage fighting and that the guys should come to Sioux Falls in a few weeks. "He said, 'You guys are exactly what we're looking for,' " the brother with the mohawk, Ryan Hawn, recalled.
The brothers arrived on Saturday at "The Cage," a no-holds-barred night of one-on-one fights between men shut inside an outdoor chain-link cage here at the W. H. Lyon Fairgrounds. In a sport known by practically interchangeable names - extreme fighting, no-holds-barred fighting, cage fighting - fighters can use boxing, kickboxing, martial arts or wrestling moves, or any combination. Opponents have called it "human cockfighting," a brutish pseudo-sport.
New York banned cage fighting in 1997, two years after Brooklyn's district attorney threatened assault charges if a scheduled fight went off. Athletic commissions in Pennsylvania, Ohio and several other states have refused to sanction the fights. Indian casinos have continued to allow the matches, while most fans have relied on watching pay-per-view channels with Ultimate Fighting Championship battles and DVD's with titles like "Cage Rage 8: Knights of the Octagon."
But in Sioux Falls and other small cities and towns of the Great Plains - Fargo, N.D.; Rochester, Minn.; Marshfield, Wis.; Sioux City and Des Moines - cage fighting is making a comeback, drawing hundreds, even thousands of spectators to fairgrounds, small arenas and, most disturbingly to city officials, the parking lots of bars.
On June 4, promoters set up a cage in the gravel lot beside Sidewinder, a bikers' bar in Sioux Falls, and held 17 fights in a "Summer Slam." A cage fight is scheduled for a bar in the city of Yankton on Aug. 13.
"It's like the hardest core," said Jarod Stevens, 25, a beefy, freckled redhead who works at a Hummer dealership, signing up for his first fight on Saturday in Sioux Falls. "It's proving something to yourself, that you're man enough to be a part of it and do well, hopefully."
By the night's end, Mr. Stevens will be holding a bag of ice to a bluish lump on his forehead. And he will be one of the luckier ones, in 11 fights over two hours that include men who train daily and self-described street fighters. Former convicts will fight on the same card as a corrections officer at South Dakota State Penitentiary, who has been approached by his fellow officers looking to learn a few moves, in case things get rough at work. Three men will be knocked out cold, with the night ending awash in the bright, swirling lights of an ambulance.
"I always say, 'Where's the rule book?' " said Vernon Brown, 37, a former television reporter who joined the Sioux Falls City Council last year and is a critic of cage fighting. "They keep giving me a sheet printed off the Internet that says no eye-gouging, no fishhooks, no fingers in bodily orifices."
He does not foresee banning the sport. His main concern, he said, is for the spectators in the potent mix of violence, alcohol and what he sees as lax security.
A measure to keep the fights away from bars and to make promoters liable for fighters' injuries is expected to go before the council in August.
This is not quite the Sioux Falls that Money Magazine declared the best place to live in the country in 1992, not the Sioux Falls that has attracted Citibank and Automatic Data Processing Inc., a quiet, safe city of 141,000, where an average of eight new residents arrive each day and a laser-light show plays every night.
In this Sioux Falls, people are 19 and 20 and 21 years old and looking for something to do, anything besides some youth program at one of the city's 65 parks or another laser-light show. The timeless ritual of cruising, in a square of downtown called "the loop," was banned two years ago, when police officers started writing tickets after three nightly sightings of the same car.
"There's really not much in Sioux Falls to do," said Anna Anderson, 21, a housekeeper wearing black clothes and matching nail polish at her first fight, on Saturday. "People should stop complaining. There's a bunch of people who want to fight, so let them come here and fight and not cause other people problems. No one seems to get seriously hurt, but if they do, shucks for them."
About half the fighters at the fairgrounds are locals. The most dedicated meet at Active Mixed Martial Arts in Suite A of a strip of office space, where Brazilian jiu-jitsu is taught.
The studio's owner and teacher, Aaron Hullinger, 33, will not bring his young children to a cage fight. "I don't like the environment there," he said. But that doesn't stop him from training his fighters to win. "The purpose of learning jiu-jitsu is not to get into the cage," he said, "but if that's something you want to do, you better know jiu-jitsu."