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« | Home | »

Florida’s commission jacks up prices, approves faulty rings, allows a transgender fighter to compete in women’s MMA tournament

By Zach Arnold | March 5, 2013

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Keeping disgraced wife of former boss Tom Molloy, Jami Alise (McClellan) Molloy, and Molloy’s lifer-since-1985 assistant Christa Patterson on Florida state payroll? Check.

Putting a state auditor, Cynthia Hefren, with no combat sports experience into the role of running Florida’s commission? Check. Paying her an average of over $2,000 per show for a calendar year? Check.

Putting a Molloy-favored pro-boxing, anti-MMA referee (Frank Gentile) with no real world management qualifications in position of handling Hefren’s business at fight shows? Check.

Putting fighters like Valentijn Overeem in a ring deemed by the commission to be faulty & lacking in structural integrity, leading to accidental falls outside the ring? Check.

Allowing a transgender fighter named Fallon Fox (SI story here) to fight in a women’s MMA tournament without checking her medical records for themselves? Check.

On her application, a copy of which was provided to SI.com, Fox stated that she held an MMA combatant’s license issued in 2013 by the California State Athletic Commission. However, CSAC Executive Director Andy Foster confirmed that Fox’s application for licensure was still under review, though the fighter and her manager, Brett Atchley, believed she had received notice of her licensure in the mail in late February. Licensure secured in other jurisdictions — particularly in a key state like California — can weigh heavily on a regulatory body’s review of a new applicant’s information.

In addition, Fox admits she did not disclose her transgender history, and presumably the pertaining medical documents that would have accompanied her Florida application, because she was not asked to.

“CSAC staff handled this without notifying me of the unusual circumstances,” said Foster. “Because this is the first of its kind situation, this matter should have been referred to me for review under the commission’s medical review panel, which ultimately makes a decision in how to proceed in a case like this. I’m taking appropriate actions to make sure this protocol is followed next time.”

(Read the comments section of this article to see the criticism directed towards me on this point.)

The Florida promoter wants Fallon Fox to continue fighting in his women’s tournament. Memo to Florida promoter: if Ericka Newsome, the female KO’d by Fox, didn’t know she was fighting someone of transgender status… then the promoter should be concerned about getting his ass sued in court (along with Florida’s commission).

It’s time for Florida DBPR nitwits Ken Lawson and Tim Vaccaro to save their sorry asses by firing the sorry asses of Frank Gentile & Cynthia Hefren instead of being cowards and keeping them on state payroll.

Killing the club circuit in Florida

It’s the classic scenario you get when you put a pencil-pusher auditor in a position of running a combat sports commission. Instead of recruiting promoters to run shows in the state, you jack up the licensing rates and hope that the rates combined with state budget money gets the books back in the black rather than actually growing activity of boxing & MMA in the state.

The state, which drew 50 shows for a calendar year, is on pace to draw about 40 events this year. They’re not in the same league as New Jersey, Nevada, Texas, or California in terms of activity — and yet they are now going to charge licensing prices that you would see in those states.

Ring Announcer – California: no charge, Florida: $100
Booking Agent – California: no charge, cno, Florida: $100
Judge – California: $150, Florida: $100
Manager – California: $150, Florida: $100
Matchmaker – California: $200, Florida: $250 (asst. matchmakers $200)
Participant – California: $60, Florida: $100
Physician – California: no charge, Florida: $100
Promoter – California: $1,000 fee for unlimited amount of shows, Florida: $250
Referee – California: $150, Florida: $100
Rep of booking agent – California: no charge, Florida: $100
Second – California: $50, Florida: $100
Timekeeper – California: $50, Florida: $100
Trainer – California: $50, Florida: $100
Concessionaire – California: $0, Florida: $100 (plus cut of revenue)

By jacking up the prices, the bean counters are killing off any hope of a club show scene in the state. It means fighters will have to fight on tribal land or out of state rather than becoming stars in their home state. The excuse has long been that Florida is an “event-only” state where big names sell but the club shows don’t. Well, you can’t have a grassroots scene if you choke the golden goose and force promoters out. Florida is a state with 10 different media markets and millions of tourists visiting each year. This should not be hard in terms of getting a genuine grassroots scene going. Instead, you can throw that out of the window with the new licensing costs.

We all know what the zero sum game here is for Cynthia Hefren: get the books to look profitable rather than improve the actual health of the combat sports scene in Florida, get out of dodge and get a raise to work another job for the state of Florida and use the commission as résumé enhancement.

Unfortunately for Hefren, the following stains on her watch are anything but résumé enhancements.

Ruling a fight a no-contest for a faulty ring used by other fighters

There was an event at the BankUnited Center at the University of Miami (Coral Gables campus) on February 23rd under the banner of S1, which is some sort of hybrid stand-up MMA with-no-ground-game deal. Florida allows these kinds of weird events to happen often, which is another story in and of itself. The Florida commission classified it as a kickboxing show.

The main event featured Valentijn Overeem vs. James Wilson.

The event was stopped due to “an unsafe ring structure.” Even Florida’s commission officially deemed the ruling as “fight stopped because of ring failure.”

Both Overeem and Wilson fell out of the ring once. Then there was another accident. As you can see from the photo, the ropes were so loose and low that it was only natural an accident would happen.

The scandal here, of course, is that the show was even allowed to go on with a ring that was deemed to be lacking in structural integrity. Rather than stop the show from taking place and getting a new ring, the show went on and the main event putting the two combatants at risk for serious injury. Sending a third-rate PR flack to the Tallahassee Democrat or Miami Herald and saying there will be “an investigation” is utter BS. Gentile & Hefren didn’t do their jobs in putting a stop to the show and put the fighters in a (legally-defined) ultrahazardous sport in serious risk. It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen and the fighters would be in their rights to sue the state for allowing this circus to go on.

Allowing a transgender fight to fight women without checking medical records

Florida’s record under the disgraced Tom Molloy for checking up on medical suspensions and records from other states speaks for itself. It was professional malpractice. Well, the malpractice is continuing in the state of Florida.

Not doing basic due diligence on medical records for a fighter has now put Florida in a shameful position. They let a transgender fighter KO a woman. Even if Florida’s excuse here is that the fighter in question (Fallon Fox) didn’t list transgender status on licensing paperwork, that doesn’t excuse the fact that Hefren & Gentile didn’t bother checking medical paperwork. Gentile was at the weigh-ins for the show last Friday in Miami. There are no excuses. Just like the ring situation with Valentijn Overeem and James Wilson, Florida’s commission put the health & safety of fighters at risk by not doing their jobs as professionals.

Someone could get paralyzed or killed by their actions. If the trajectory of BS doesn’t change, it will be sooner rather than later.

Topics: CSAC, Florida, MMA, Media, Zach Arnold | 40 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

40 Responses to “Florida’s commission jacks up prices, approves faulty rings, allows a transgender fighter to compete in women’s MMA tournament”

  1. Jim says:

    They should have checked medical paperwork, but in the case of Fallon Fox, no harm done:

    “Fox, who underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2006 along with the supplemental hormonal therapy…”

    There’s nothing wrong with her fighting women, whatever their origins, in her weight class.

  2. PitterPatter says:

    What does Fallon Fox have to do with the shoddy work of the Florida Commission? Fallon according to what has been written DID apply and receive her National MMA License. As for faulting blame on ANYONE, it would be with rather or not the ACTUAL question of gender reassignment surgery is asked on an application. AND if not, is it because of HIPPA violation? Civil Rights Violation? There has to be some reason why n this day and age that question is not listed. As for Fallon needing to disclose that falls with in the area of right to know, need to know and moral standards of letting her opponents decide.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      Re-read Andy Foster’s comments in the SI article about what was/wasn’t done for licensing.

      Juxtapose that to how Florida did/didn’t review records or ensure what was going on. This isn’t about whether or not the fighter in question should be rejected from fighting — it’s about disclosure, being on the same page, and ensuring that all parties involved (from the commission to the promoter to the fighters) knows what is what.

      That didn’t happen here.

      • Jay B. says:

        Yeah read that article first on SI and noticed that she is fighting on sovereign ground to bypass getting licenses…some people just dont get it. Its wrong just because she got a hormonal supplement dont mean she should be fighting females.

  3. The Gaijin says:

    Fallon Fox had gender reassignment surgery and has been on hormones to become a woman for over a decade. Any advantage she’d have had from natural testosterone has been long neutralized. She’s also legally and medically considered a woman based on what I’ve read thus far and is considered a female on her driver’s license…she also meets IOC standards to compete in the Olympics (http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/news/story?id=1803423) and could compete in the WTA and LPGA.

    If you want to kick their ass about not doing due diligence on medical record, give them hell. However, I think it’s incredibly insensitive and frankly uneducated for you to be fear mongering and muckraking about “a transgender fighter beating up a woman”. It was a woman fighting a woman…nothing more, nothing less. You’re WAY WAY better than this, Zach.

    • Zach Arnold says:

      You’re interjecting personal politics here on this matter.

      a) Was the fighter truthful on paperwork about transgender status?

      b) Why did Florida not do due diligence on medicals?

      c) If Florida can’t get something like this right, why should fighters have confidence that the commission can get simple things like hepatitis and HIV testing right?

      If you want a transgender fighter involved, OK — but disclose it up front, make sure the other fighters know, and keep the process transparent. Follow Loretta Hunt’s Twitter feed (@lorettahuntmma) and you’ll see she has a second article coming out tomorrow on the matter.

      To be fair to you on the matter, I slightly modified the title of the article now based on your reply. My frustration here is about a commission that is completely incapable of managing anything at this point the right way.

      • The Gaijin says:

        I appreciate the change – as I noted, she meets requirements under Olympic rules to compete as well as under the rules of several other pro sports, so I thought it was inflammatory and insensitive to make this a “transgender beats up a woman” headline grabber.

        I am totally on your side with everything else you’re angry at:

        “a) Was the fighter truthful on paperwork about transgender status?

        b) Why did Florida not do due diligence on medicals?

        c) If Florida can’t get something like this right, why should fighters have confidence that the commission can get simple things like hepatitis and HIV testing right?
        [...]
        My frustration here is about a commission that is completely incapable of managing anything at this point the right way.”

        100% got your back on that. Was she required to say on the paperwork that she’s transgender (perhaps there’s a section dealing with something like this in their medical history)? Legally/medically she’s a woman now so would she even be considered trans? Was she within the normal limits for testosterone testing? I guess we can’t really trust them to competently test in any case.

        Just didn’t think we needed the unnecessary heat seeking headline…and in this case, which is a very particular one, her formerly being a man didn’t make one difference to fighter safety.

        • MMA on the Reg says:

          I don’t see how Zach is wrong to question the legitimacy of a transgender woman participating in female fighting.

          First and foremost, a transgender female is not physically similar to a natural woman. Transgender females have male skeletons that are bigger in size, structure and density than a traditional female frame. Since Transgender women have stronger bones in their legs, arms, hips, jaw, hands and skull, it gives them an advantage and poses a threat to the safety of natural female fighters.

          The #1 responsibility for the commission and for the fighters is safety. Glove size, weight classes, medical examinations, suspensions, drug tests and referee procedures are all administered with the intention of keeping the athletes safe. Transgender women may “legally” be considered female, but that is completely irrelevant when it comes to combat sports and fighter safety. It is irresponsible and dangerous to allow transgender female fighters to participate in woman’s combat sports.

        • Jay B. says:

          MMA on the Reg, I agree. He has every right to question this. Why is she fighting in Idaho on indian grounds if she had a license? She knows she probably had no business saying she had a license from Cali. I am guessing she really wanted to fight that badly. There is a serious problem with having a transgendered women fight in combat sports against females. There is a reason why there was a transgendered kickboxer facing men still in thailand.

          People saying that she has no advantage is stupid. Have you gaijin actually stood face to face with transgendered women? Bone structure never changes and even with hormones, sometimes muscle development never changes. If you seen pictures of Fallon fox, you can easily tell the muscle mass she has over a natural female along with reach and broad shoulders.

        • Jay B. says:

          Plus if she knew it was a problem now. she wouldnt have done that interview with SI about her fight in Coral Gables. Admitting to not disclosing that she was transgendered. Non story my ass. She will be heading back to Idaho to do some more non comissioned fights.

        • The Gaijin says:

          1. So she’s able to compete in judo, karate, wrestling, TKD, boxing and every other combat sport under the IOC banner at the OLYMPICS, but not mma? Ok, well I guess clearly the IOC has not put procured any research or studies into whether there is or is not some sort of unsafe competitive advantage for someone 2+ years post reassignment and hormonal therapy. Right.

          2. Your comment on Nong Toom is misleading. She fought against men pre-reassignment, largely to pay for the surgery and had ONE exhibition match against a man post. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parinya_Charoenphol

          3. She did the interview with SI because she was told she was being “outed” – why not take a large stage to address the situation? Also, she admitted that she didn’t disclose she was transgendered b/c she was not required to and the FLA commission admitted as much:

          “In addition, Fox admits she did not disclose her transgender history, and presumably the pertaining medical documents that would have accompanied her Florida application, because she was not asked to.

          In response to inquiries regarding Fox’s transgender status or if she was obligated to disclose it, Poreda wrote, “The Florida State Boxing Commission is in the process of updating the rules for professional MMA events and this topic will be included in an upcoming workshop on changes to the administrative rules.”

          http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/mma/news/20130305/fallon-fox-transgender-mma/#ixzz2MmB7BfEB

          4. Bellator and a number of mma promotions run shows on Indian grounds – does that mean they’re being shady and hiding something? No, it’s just the nature of regional mma.

        • Jay B. says:

          Gaijin, yes most of the time when promotions are running in indian grounds, its to avoid number of fighters questionable past and red flags. Indian ground commission pretty much approve anything. They allowed Tommy Morrison to fight with aids on reservations, so shouldnt be surprising that a transgendered individual is allowed to fight a female with zero background check. Taking a pregnancy test is part of the flimsy prerequisites. Running MMA on indian grounds is equal to David Haye and Chisora running from British Boxing commmission and having Luxembourg sanction a fight.

          Again Gaijin, have you met a transgendered individual and been face to face with them? Even with 4-5 years of hormones, they are still big, fast and on higher level than females.

        • Jay B. says:

          Oh yeah and when you are talking about the IOC and transgender, do you know the prerequisites for doing that? The country has to accept that the individual is a female. Meaning the shrinks have to write a letter informing state that this person really believes she is a female. Which could have happened, but not the point really. But you wonder why transgendered people have not shown up in events to this date. Only ones that attempted to get into the olympics were hammer throw and they failed to qualify.

          Hard for anyone to use the IOC these days as a strong point.

        • The Gaijin says:

          Yes, actually I do know Jay B. because I’ve bothered to read up on it.

          “[A]thletes who have undergone sex-change surgery will be eligible for the Olympics if their new gender has been legally recognized and they have gone through a minimum two-year period of post-operative hormone therapy.”

          Hardly a case of Forrest Griffin donning a dress and a wig like Hoffman in Tootsie and convincing a mark doctor that he thinks he’s a woman.

          The IOC is LEAGUES ahead of any other sport for testing and everything else, so yeah, I think they’re about as strong a point as any other could be in sports.

        • Jay B. says:

          You have yet to answer if you met and seen or met transgendered person face to face. Its not exactly the same as reading and seeing whats on the news. I met and befriended a few and even after 5-6 years of hormonal treatment, that doesnt soften the body or muscles entirely. Looking at Fallon Fox photos, 10 years of treatment is BS and even so broad shoulders and reach advantage does take into effect. hormonal treatment doesnt change a mans shape into a womans shape entirely. You are giving me information from what you read. But what does the IOC is leagues ahead of people when it comes to drug testing maybe. But when it comes to transgender people in sports. What do they honestly know? a couple of test that allowed them to bring transgenders into Olympic which has yet to happen?

        • The Gaijin says:

          Yes, I have. And anecdotal observations do not match scientific literature or research in any way shape or form.

          The fact that this is your biggest argument tells me that I am just wasting my time trying to argue with someone who is grilling me on whether I’ve “met a tranny face to face.”

      • Jay B. says:

        Anyways moving on. Nobody asked you if “you seen a tranny face to face”, might wanna educate yourself…tranny is a derogatory term too. Asked if you ever met a transgendered person.

        Good work.

      • Anna says:

        “YOU’RE INJECTING YOUR PERSONAL BIASES,” he says, rejecting plain and simple facts presented by people who actually knows what they’re talking about in favor of his own bigoted nonsense.

    • Ed says:

      So I guess your comparing Olympic sports to being punched in the face with a 4 oz glove? Who cares if those other sports allow transvestites. I’m sure mini golf allows for transvestites to compete as well. What is your point?

    • Megatherium says:

      I’m looking forward to seeing this tranny throw down!

      • klown says:

        Gaijin, thanks for standing up against some of the idiocy on this thread.

        • Jay B. says:

          Yeah idiocy? how about education. Try bringing something to the conversation.

        • The Gaijin says:

          I don’t see ANY “education” displayed by even one word people like Jay B. have uttered. Bigotry, self-affirming bias and appeals to anecdotal observation that serves to affirm these ridiculous ‘beliefs’.

        • edub says:

          Cmon Gaij- He’s obviously educated if he’s using scientific evidence like her shoulders still look somewhat broad. I mean, he has even befriended a few.

        • Jay B. says:

          learn to read edub, mentioned more than just shoulders, providing no evidence of being on medication.. No proof “10 years of hormone treatments” again fighting on indian grounds so you can bypass testing? Yeah not a problem at all.

          Anyways done with the conversation. So lets just drop another “tranny” line and make yourself look witty.

  4. Dnm3k says:

    I fully expected to come in here and giggle and the tuck job tammy situation, butdue diligence, if she’s good enough for the IOC of all commissions, and then it’s more of a nonstory other than being a sign of the commissions overall ineptness.
    The only issue I’d have with her fighting is if her opponent didn’t know that Fallon wasn’t born a chick eventhough it could break health care privacy laws etc, but yeah, Zach this is one time I expected you to be bringing up these facts when do you ever miss any part of a story? LOL

  5. 45 Huddle says:

    Damn…. All all I need to do is get my penis chopped off and I can be an Olympic Gold Medalist in a Women’s Sport!!

    As for Florida…. They always boast about their being no income state tax. Bills still need to be paid. So what you end up is a combination of getting strange revenue streams and a reduction in key services.

  6. Chris says:

    The opponent of Fallon Fox absolutely should have known that her opponent was Trans Gender. There is no getting around the fact that being biologically born a male is going to give her an advantage of size and strength over the women that she competes against. That’s not a fight that should have been sanctioned.

  7. Nepal says:

    I live in Thailand and there are literally 10’s of thousands (that isn’t hyperbole) of transgenders here, or ladyboys as we call them and I have nothing against them, quite the contrary to the odd really beautiful one… but that’s another story. Whether the IOC and other org’s allow them is irrelevant, they are men with their bits chopped off. They shouldn’t be allowed to compete with women without full disclosure.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      But there is something weird about getting your junk chopped off. It’s a form of mutilation.

      I’m not a closed minded individual. I am pro gay marriage. I am for polygamy being legal. And I don’t think a person wanting to cut off their junk and pretending to be a woman should be illegal.

      I just think it is a mental disorder for a person to mutilate their body in order to be “happy”. I think the same way of girls putting fake b##bs in. Removing or adding parts to your body is a sickness….

      • Chuck says:

        I basically agree with what you are saying, but then most people on the planet are “sick”. Okay, yeah they are, but that’s another argument. Anyway, technically, getting a piercing is mutilation. Getting a circumcision is mutilation (obvious that one isn’t by choice of the one getting the procedure). Hell, getting braces for your teeth is mutilation. Think about it; you are getting a device that is glued to your teeth so that your teeth get re-arranged in a manner that is considered “acceptable” and “valued”. Crooked teeth is hardly a handicap. Getting the sex-change operation seems like a way too extreme example to compare to a piercing or mouth braces, but the point still stands. And many of these men clearly think a penis is just an ancillary organ to get rid of (like an appendix or whatever).

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Braces is a bad example. Braces are a legit practice that can fix current and long term issues with the teeth. If teeth are overlapped or too crowded braces are preventative for future problems. Sure some people get it for cosmetic reasons, but many actually need it to stop pain or not have future jaw problems. My friend in school had straight teeth and still needed braces because he was not biting properly and it was causing jaw problems.

          You are right that piercings are mutilation, but it is such a tiny form of it that nobody really cares. Somebody can be of a perfectly rational state and have earings.

          I would say that anybody who cuts off their penis is not in a rational state.

      • Nepal says:

        45, I’m not a doctor and so can’t say if it’s a mental disorder or not however these ladyboys have the surgery literally by the thousands. So if it is a mental disorder, then a large group of our society have this problem.

        You can talk to any ladyboy and they feel they are women. Inside, they are 100% women and they’ve felt that way all their lives. They look at their dick and feel ashamed that they have it. They generally have been dressing like women since their pubescent years and cutting off their bits is just a really positive step for them in feeling like a normal human. They actually are in a very rational state.

        Thailand is a very open minded society and people generally are very accepting of other peoples ways so it’s quite easy for ladyboys to live a relatively normal life. If other countries around the world had the a similar “live and let live” attitude, I’ll bet you would see a lot more transgenders than you do.

        Fake boobs isn’t a sickness either, it’s usually for more self esteem, just to be more attractive or to make more money. It’s an easy surgery and not really a big deal. A sickness? that’s way too strong a word.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/news/20070810/breast-implant-suicide-link-confirmed

          Absolutely it is a sickness to get breast implants. Which is why women who get breast implants have an increased chance of suicide. They are not right in the brain.

          Anytime you want to motify your body to such an extreme, it is a sign that the brain is not operating properly.

        • Nepal says:

          You are off base with this mental disorder analysis for transgender and also inaccurate with regards to breast implants. The referenced article suggests that women predisposed to mental illness and get breast implants are at risk, it doesn’t suggest at all that it is a sickness to get breast implants.

        • Zheroen says:

          Like male fighters who use TRT? They’re modifying their internal chemistry. Why does that seem to be less of an issue with you than exterior, superficial modification like breast implants?

      • Zheroen says:

        45 shows just how progressive and open-minded he is, yet again. “Anyone who does something I don’t like is MORALLY wrong and SICK”.

  8. RST says:

    Where you at california?!

    Florida is pulling solidly away on the insane scorecards!

    I think ca may have to go all out for a crazy KO if they want to get the nutball title back

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