Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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Monday, September 05, 2016

No Holds Barred: Jim Genia on How New Law Will Kill Grappling and Wrestling in New York 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with MMA journalist Jim Genia.

While much attention has been given to the recent re-legalization of MMA in New York, the rules and regulations issued Thursday, September 1, by the New York State Athletic Commission to implement this new law contained some disastrous surprises for the various styles of grappling and wrestling.

Now, as of September 1, organizations wishing to sanction events in professional and even amateur grappling, wrestling, judo, and other disciplines must apply for licensing from the New York commission. (The staged pro "wrestling" is in a separate category and defined as not a real sport.)

New York's General Business Law defines combative sports in § 1000, section 3:

"'Combative sport' means any unarmed bout, contest, competition, match, or exhibition undertaken to entertain an audience, wherein the participants primarily grapple or wrestle, or deliver blows of any kind to, or use force in any way to manipulate, the body of another participant, and wherein the outcome and score depend entirely on such activities."

In the athletic commission's regulations for implementing and governing combative sports in New York State, under the heading "Application for License", it states:

"Section 214.4. (a) An entity may make an application for a license to supervise and oversee the conduct of matches and exhibitions of one or more of the following authorized combative sports: wrestling, kickboxing (including muay thai), amateur mixed martial arts, and the single discipline martial arts of Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate and Kempo."

Yet the "NYSAC Application for Combative Sport Authorized Sanctioning Entity License" has a different list. Applications to sanction one or more professional combative sport (except boxing and MMA, which are handled separately) can be made in, according to this wording: "Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling/Grappling, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kempo." Applications to sanction one or more amateur combative sport can be made in, according to this wording: "Mixed Martial Arts, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Wrestling/Grappling, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Kempo."

No definition is given as to what is included and what is not in "Wrestling/Grappling", and it is doubtful anyone on this commission even knows what this means.

The non-refundable application fee, which does not guarantee getting licensed, is $1,000.

In addition, the sanctioning bodies are required on this form to file with the New York Department of State bonds of $20,000 and $10,000: "An authorized Sanctioning Entity must execute and file with the Department of State: Bond in the sum of $20,000.00 conditioned for and guaranteeing the payment of purses and the legitimate expenses of printed tickets and all advertising materials and; Bond in the sum of $10,000.00 conditioned for and guaranteeing the faithful performance of the authorized sanctioning entity of the provisions of Article 41 of the General Business Law and the rules and regulations of the Commission".

That application form can be seen here.

The "regulations implementing and governing combative sports in New York State" can be seen here.

These organizations running amateur events must also provide accident insurance for each athlete of a minimum of $1,000, death benefit coverage of $10,000, and file a mountain of paperwork, as well as having to follow more regulations, some of which are unclear in this poorly-written set of commission rules.

Obviously, these onerous fees alone will make it impossible and not affordable for such amateur grappling and wrestling events to take place in New York State.

To discuss this, we spoke with Jim Genia Saturday.

"A number of factors have put us in a position where we are right now," he said. "One of them was that, one of the major talking points in getting mixed martial arts legalized in New York was that there were all these unsanctioned, unregulated events going on in New York.

"Now, you and I, we're savvy about combat sports. We know the difference between an MMA show and a grappling event. But, the people up in Albany, they can't tell the difference.

"So unfortunately, to help curb all these unregulated events, the grappling events were lumped together in the new statute, in the law, and in the athletic commission guidelines, with these unsanctioned MMA shows.

"And now we're stuck."

We also discussed the effect on all this by the ongoing multi-million dollar lawsuit against this commission and others by brain-damaged boxer Magomed Abdusalamov. This suit involved the disgraceful lack of treatment he received after his November 2, 2013, fight at the Theater in Madison Square Garden. After a brutal fight and after he complained of head pain, the commission advised him to take a taxi to Roosevelt Hospital rather than transporting him immediately by an on-site ambulance. This resulted in wasting precious time until he received emergency brain surgery. He was then in a coma for several weeks, still needs 24-hour care, and is unable to stand or speak.

This situation prompted an investigation by the New York State inspector general's office, but the report wasn't released until July 2016, a month after Abdusalamov's attorney sued to have it released. The delay in the release of this report could lead to a federal investigation of an attempted coverup, since the New York investigation began almost three years before the report was finally released.

And we discussed more about these regulations in depth; how we must demand that the two vacancies currently on the New York State Athletic Commission be filled by people who understand MMA, grappling, wrestling, and other martial arts; what action we must take; the new one million dollar insurance requirement for boxing and MMA promoters to get for each fighter on a card to cover the costs of serious head and brain injuries; and much, much more.

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