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ABC letter expresses concern over quality of New York regulation

By Zach Arnold | April 3, 2012

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April 2, 2012

Dear Membership:

Recently, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board has made me aware of some matters that I wish to share with the membership. In New Jersey’s neighboring State of New York, amateur and professional kickboxing and Muay Thai is overseen by sanctioning bodies, not the state athletic commission. Reportedly, as of May 2012, New York has seen fit to also now allow amateur MMA under the direct control and supervision of sanctioning bodies.

While the below examples just involve New Jersey and New York, it is an important issue for the entire membership because contestants frequently travel to various jurisdictions. In addition, it is important because many sanctioning bodies are regional or national in nature, so that their actions/inactions are likely standard policy regardless of contest location.

In the past few months, combat sports competitors have been allowed to compete in the State of New York while underage, well past age 40, and under drug, medical or disciplinary suspension in New Jersey. All of the New Jersey suspensions in place were listed and denoted on the ABC’s official MMA record keeper database,, and also sent to FightFax, the ABC’s official boxing record keeper database.

In short, it is concerning that combat sports contestants have very recently been granted eligibility to compete in New York while under suspension in New Jersey for reasons such as positive Hepatitis C results, the need for retinal surgery, failed stress echocardiograms, and MRI scans. A contestant on permanent suspension for a history of subdural hematoma was also granted clearance and fought in New York without any testing.

Furthermore, the sanctioning bodies have not reported the results of any of these competitions in New York. Thus, absent voluntary and complete disclosure from the contestant, or attendance at each event, there is no way of knowing whether a contestant has competed in New York and the results of such competition. The sanctioning body, as it fails to report results, also fails to list any medical suspensions. Thus, it is difficult to determine whether a contestant was KO’d last week, and it is also difficult to determine whether a contestant has the experience of 5 or 15 combat sports competitions.

As Commissioners, we need to suggest that sanctioning bodies register their events and check for yellow labeled suspended fighters, and follow up with the suspending commission regarding the suspension. Sanctioning bodies should also report results to the proper registries. In the absence of that, Commissioners need to be aware of the need to directly inquire as to the contestants last competition, as such may not show on the database if regulated by a sanctioning organization.

It is strongly suggested that Commissions who allow and utilize sanctioning bodies consider requiring minimum medical testing, medical insurance, on site safety precautions, drug testing and weigh-in controls. Currently, in New york, such are, at times, not even required or can simply be waived on fight night. Despite detailed operating procedures denoted in some sanctioning body manuals, these procedures are frequently waived. It may be prudent to have the sanctioning body advise the appropriate athletic commission of proposed event dates in advance, so that the state, province or tribal agency can send a representative to the event or follow up on the receipt of bout results and suspensions.

All combat sports have inherent medical risks and safety concerns, and proper regulatory oversight is needed at all levels. We should always remember that the health and safety of the contestant, and the fairness and integrity of the contest are our primary goals.

Thank you for your consideration of these concerns.

Very truly yours,

Tim Lueckenhoff

Topics: Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 6 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

6 Responses to “ABC letter expresses concern over quality of New York regulation”

  1. jim genia says:

    If you read between the lines, that letter is a jab at to the only two viable sanctioning organizations that have statutory power to have combative sport events in New York: the WKA and the USMTA. Are those two orgs lax in how well they oversee events? Well, I can tell you from first-hand observation their oversight is nothing like the oversight of, say, the NJSACB.

    What surprises me most about the current situation in New York State is that there isn’t a rush of promoters suddenly holding these barely-sanctioned amateur MMA events. The “word on the street” is that, though the NYC District Attorney and the State’s Attorney have both said the law banning pro MMA doesn’t ban amateur MMA, the athletic commission has told promoters they’re going to find any reason they can to shut down amateur MMA shows. The source inside the commission said they’d use anything from fire code violations to zoning laws. Still, all it takes is someone hard-headed and determined – someone who doesn’t care about how they commission will feel about them when the state does start sanctioning events – and it’s game on.

    At the last UCL a couple months ago, a competitor broke his leg. This was widely reported on GAWKER. I admit I was shocked when nothing came of it in terms of political outcry. But hey, that’s New York for you.

  2. RST says:

    New York!


  3. Bix says:

    I’m a little confused, at the last TaKe-On card there was a row of commission reps at ringside and the typical “sanctioned by the NYSAC” announcement…

    • jim genia says:

      I was at the last Take-On event, too. The WKA handled sanctioning, and any athletic commission reps there were not there “working” the event. It’s all about liability, and because the statute enables it, the state can transfer liability to the enumerated sanctioning bodies.

  4. […] to present the public with your dog food, they just aren’t interested enough in it. Given the recent reported issues involving the New York State Athletic Commission, this may be for the best right […]

  5. […] York’s commission is the same regulatory body that drew the wrath of the Association of Boxing Commissions last year for allowing under-age and over-the-age-of-40 fighters to compete and allowing fighters who are […]


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