This was in our Des Moines Register....
Bill could end extreme fighting
Proponents say the sport brings a lot of revenue into Iowa communities.
By TIM HIGGINS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
February 8, 2006
Call it a rematch: A couple of years ago, Iowa legislators debated outlawing the rough and tumble sport of extreme fighting, but the measure got knocked down.
Now it's back for Round Two.
The state's athletic commissioner wants to stop regulating the sport of "shootfighting" -- the legal term for extreme or ultimate fighting. Supporters of the sport say that would knock it out of the ring.
The state sanctions shootfighting and other sports, such as boxing and wrestling, but officials say they can't properly regulate the extreme fights and worry about the liability issues for the state.
Under the state's proposal, House Study Bill 543, the sport would become unregulated. The bill would affect the type of fighting featured in Tuesday's Des Moines Register IowaLife section.
"If somebody should get hurt or seriously injured during one of these things the state is supposedly regulating, (the state) has the deep pockets to be sued over it," said David Neil, the state's new athletic commissioner.
The state's current regulations are not adequate, Neil said, raising concerns about blood-borne diseases and whether children should be allowed to watch.
Supporters of ultimate fighting say such a move would be the death blow to the professional sport that involves the fighting styles of boxing, wrestling, kickboxing and judo.
They say Neil, who also serves as the state's labor commissioner, is against the sport and has persuaded legislators who don't know anything about it to oppose it.
"It sounds to me like it's an inconvenience to him," said Monte Cox, a Bettendorf extreme-fighting promoter.
Cox said he thinks Neil is not considering "how many managers, fighters, promoters, how many of those Iowans are involved and how many hotel rooms and restaurants and venues that we use and how much revenue we bring in."
Cox said the sport has regulations under the state's administrative rules, such as requiring a referee and efforts to provide public safety. He said promoters make sure there are doctors at events and they are required to follow safety rules.
He disagreed that the state would be any more liable for extreme fights than for such sports as boxing or football.
A House subcommittee has begun work on the legislation, but at least one legislator in the group says it would be his preference to do a flat ban on the sport.
"I don't see any social good . . . in particular the message it sends to young people," said Rep. Mike May, R-Spirit Lake.
Rep. Paul Wilderdyke, a Woodbine Republican and chairman of the subcommittee, said he doesn't think the professional events should be banned but he is worried about the amateur contests.
In 2002, state legislators debated banning nonsanctioned amateur contests. The legislation would have set regulations for the unpaid fights. Legislators in 2002 even took a trip to watch a fight but the measure went nowhere.