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« | Home | »

The union’s 2013 pushback to MMA legislation in New York

By Zach Arnold | March 1, 2013

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Step one: Zuffa Investor Alerts, a new web site focusing on sponsors & Zuffa’s debt in running UFC. They try to stir the pot with this post about UFC & Deutsche Bank and ties Bellator into the matter.

Step two: the letter writing. Here’s a letter from Wednesday that was sent to Sheldon Silver, the main roadblock in the New York Assembly preventing MMA legislation from getting passed in the state.

The letter text:

February 27, 2013
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
Room 932
Legislative Office Building

Re: Statement Opposing Legalization of Cage Fighting in New York

Dear Assembly Speaker Silver:

We are writing to urge you to uphold the State of New York’s ban against professional cage fighting events, and to resist efforts by Las Vegas-based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to bring these violent spectacles to New York.

In the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, it is unthinkable that lawmakers in any jurisdiction would risk exposing our children to an activity that involves extreme violence and brutality. (See our attachment for a detailed list of recent controversies and scandals associated with cage fighting.)

Cage fighting, also known as “ultimate fighting” and “mixed martial arts,” is sensationalized violence that has no place in civilized society. In these contests, fighters are allowed to knock each other unconscious through elbows, kicks and knees to the head; and to strangle each other to the point of passing out through choke holds. At least four cage fighters from the United States are reported to have died from injuries sustained during amateur or professional cage fights.

We are also deeply concerned that cage fighters have competed in public stadiums and on television bearing Neo-Nazi messages in tattoos and on clothing. The Southern Poverty Law Center wrote:

“Not surprisingly, this rapidly rising blood sport is likewise wildly popular among racist skinheads and other young extremists with a thirst for violence.”

These public displays of violence and hate are all the more troubling in light of the fact that cage fighting is being actively marketed to children. Today, children as young as seven years old are participating in cage fighting tournaments. Videos of these contests show children punching and kicking each other from behind chain-link fences, while adult spectators clap and cheer.

In his State of the State Speech, Governor Cuomo asserted that New York “must remain the progressive capital of the nation.” Clearly, an entertainment spectacle that allows people to pummel each other in bloodstained cages has no place in a state that aspires to be a model for progressives, as well as a capital of art and culture.

As a society, we have an obligation to protect our children from extreme violence and hate speech, just as we have an obligation to protect our children from drugs, alcohol and pornography. We strongly urge you to vote against any proposal that would bring cage fighting events to the State of New York.

This statement has been signed by the following religious and community leaders:

Daniel Cantor
Executive Director
Working Families Party
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Patrick J. Carolan
Executive Director
Franciscan Action Network
Washington, D.C.

Father John P. Duffell
Associate Pastor
Church of the Blessed Sacrament
New York, N.Y.

Rita Freedman
Acting Executive Director
Jewish Labor Committee
New York, N.Y.

Joseph J. Fahey, Ph.D.
Co-Founder and Chair, Catholic Scholars for Worker Justice
Director, Labor Studies Program, Manhattan College
Bronx, N.Y.

Rabbi Michael E. Feinberg
Executive Director
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition
New York, N.Y.

David L. Gregory
Dorothy Day Professor of Law, St. John’s University School of Law
Executive Director, Center for Labor and Employment Law
New York, N.Y.

Father Brian Jordan, O.F.M.
Chaplain
Saint Francis College
Brooklyn Heights, N.Y.

Rabbi Jill Jacobs
Executive Director
T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
New York, N.Y.

Marjorie Dove Kent
Executive Director
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice
New York, N.Y.

Father J. Cletus Kiley
Director of Immigration Policy
UNITE HERE

Sister Marie Lucy, O.S.F. Director of Advocacy and Member Relations
Franciscan Action Network
Washington, D.C.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik
Executive Vice President
New York Board of Rabbis
New York, N.Y.

Dr. Laurence Thomas
Professor, Department of Philosophy
Syracuse University
Syracuse, N.Y.

Topics: Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 17 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

17 Responses to “The union’s 2013 pushback to MMA legislation in New York”

  1. Keith Harris says:

    I bet Brandon Saling is mentioned in the attachment.

  2. 45 Huddle says:

    Outside of NY…. What effect has the union really had on the UFC? Did it stop the UFC from getting a TV deal with FOX? Nope. Has it stopped larger companies from sponsoring the UFC? Nope. And even NY is more complicated then just the union being a pain. There are many reasons why it has not been legalized.

    The union is a tiny thorn in Zuffa’s side. Not much more then that. They are evil. They do some crazy stuff. But outside of MMA circles, they really have been just like a crazy ex-girlfriend throwing a temper tantrum.

    *********

    For anybody who has Netflix and has not seen the documentary “Head Games”, I HIGHLY recommend it. It is the documentary with Chris Nowinski about concussions in sports. It mainly talks about concussions in Football, Hockey, and soccer…. And in passing touches upon boxing. I don’t think MMA is even mentioned once in it.

    I’m not pulling an Ivan Trembow here. For those who are familiar with him, he used to post here and post some articles about the sport. He made a statement about concussions in sports bothering him as a fan and how he was no longer going to watch it because of it. You can read it here:

    http://www.ivansblog.com/

    Like I said, I am not taking the Ivan Trembow stance here…. But this documentary certainly makes me feel somewhat guilt of being a fan of MMA. A lot of fighters are certainly causing great damage to their brains. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a lot of the same problems NFL players are showing 20 years down the road.

    • nottheface says:

      Welcome to the club, I’ve felt the same way for some time. I like martial arts, boxing, and MMA but I also have no problem with those who legitimately want it banned,

      • RST says:

        “but I also have no problem with those who legitimately want it banned,”

        I wouldn’t either

        But people who like to ban things without understanding them are zealots

        They only live to crusade about things and are never satisfied without trying to push their crusade on everybody else

        Fortunately in the case of MMA,
        new york are just about all by themselves in that one by now

        So they pose no threat and can be safely ignored

        I would suggest ignoring new york in ALL AREA’S of opinion
        Not just MMA

        There is something stupid and sinister about that community

  3. Ditch says:

    Oh Southern Poverty Law Center, are you ever NOT awful?

    • nottheface says:

      When they came to the assistance of vietnamese fishermen being harassed by the KKK? When they got the Montgomery Alabama YMCA to stop banning children from meets who didn’t swim in segregated pools?

      • RST says:

        When did those things happen?

        Yesterday?

        They’ve got KKK in Vietnam?

        I’m sure that the SPLC had a useful function at one time and did some great things

        But kind of like affirmative action,
        they are not as relevant as they wish they were anymore

        Which I agree is hard to accept

        They dont want to move on into the modern world and abandon that old agenda that gave them such a rush of moral superiority

        But its just a power trip now

        And their power trip has become a crutch and in fact a barrier to the people who they want you to think they care so much about

        They are perpetuating the problem,
        because they wouldn’t know what to do without it

  4. phil says:

    I think Zuffa’s lawsuit against NY will have enough of an impact to make the NY government push it through this time.

    If Zuffa can have a card in MSG this November with or without the bill, NY will be leaving money on the table by letting it happen without the athletic commission getting their cut. I don’t know how much money that actually is, but I can’t see them letting a UFC card happen in NY without being involved somehow.

  5. nottheface says:

    Not justifying the Culinary Union, but there’s a lot of fascinating info in there. Some of which for reasons that have nothing to do with why CU posted it. And for anyone who wants to know what they chose this plan of action, you only have to see the political contribution amounts.

    For New York contributions:

    Zuffa: $207,150 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/state_contributors.phtml?s=NY&y=2012&f=Z&so=C&p=11#sorttable

    Unite Here: $43,000 http://www.followthemoney.org/database/StateGlance/state_contributors.phtml?s=NY&y=2012&f=U&so=a#sorttable

    Culinary: $0

    For total 2012 C

    Culinary Workers Local contributed $10,632 (all in NV)

    Station Casinos $115,500 (NV and CA)

    Zuffa LLC around $200K http://www.followthemoney.org/database/topcontributor.phtml?u=2468&y=2012&incy=0&ince=0&incs=0&incf=0

  6. Weezy02 says:

    “…wildly popular among racist skinheads…”

    Excellent point, Culinary Union. Can’t have anything that attracts such people here in the state of New York. On an unrelated note, come enjoy good ‘ol fashioned NASCAR action soon at Watkins Glenn, NY!!!!!!

  7. Black Dog says:

    I have a problem with these “religious” people trying to get things banned. Anytime people imbued with some kind of “calling” get involved, it makes things worse.

    Keeping it out of New York does not mean it is going to stop MMA. It will be fought in New York, only underground with no checks and balances.

    I do agree that oversight is required in this, and other sports. I believe the UFC and all MMA should follow strict guidelines about what is permitted and what is not. Having competed in martial arts as a young man, I’ll say certain things should never be allowed:

    –Chokeholds of any sort that go across the windpipe.
    –Closed fist punches to the head.
    –Any strikes to the back of the head, base of the spine and the groin. That includes elbows.
    –Eye-gouging and hair pulling, right out.
    –No use of the cage, either as a weapon or to stop the action.
    –Referees and ringside physicians need to have more power in stopping a fight.

    Now…I’m sure you will say, “But that’s already in the rules.” Not so; the rules vary from state to state.

    I’ve seen people get badly hurt in what should have been controlled situations, and the fight game needs to police itself.

    I’m also on record as being opposed to use of steroids, HGH, testosterone, any of that.

    You can have competitive, entertaining (I hate the use of that word) fights without people killing each other. I do not want so-called “religious” activists getting the power to ban stuff…look what happened with prohibition. Ban booze, it gave a green light to bootleggers and organized crime. Do you want organized crime running MMA? I don’t think so.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      No chokes and no punching to the head?

      Um no…

    • Chromium says:

      I realize you may be a troll, albeit a particularly strange one, but on the chance you’re for real and just stumbled across this blog by accident, you’re incredibly ill-informed. If you’re on the level I’m not sure what you hope to accomplish, but

      Having competed in martial arts as a young man, I’ll say certain things should never be allowed:

      –Chokeholds of any sort that go across the windpipe.
      –Closed fist punches to the head.
      –Any strikes to the back of the head, base of the spine and the groin. That includes elbows.
      –Eye-gouging and hair pulling, right out.
      –No use of the cage, either as a weapon or to stop the action.
      –Referees and ringside physicians need to have more power in stopping a fight.

      Now…I’m sure you will say, “But that’s already in the rules.” Not so; the rules vary from state to state.

      This reads like something that was written in 1994 or something.

      Regarding each point:

      -Chokeholds target the carotid arteries not the windpipe (a study in Japan of 30,000 judoka who have used this technique managed to find exactly zero serious injuries from it). Specifically targeting the center of the neck is illegal under the Unified Rules.

      -This is not the sport for your if you don’t want to see punches to the head. If you find boxing offensive too that’s fine, but I would suggest another sport. Perhaps Kyoukushin Karate is more up your alley.

      -None of these have been legal for over a decade.

      -None of these have been legal since practically the inception of the sport. I think eye gouging in particular wasn’t even legal at UFC 1.

      -Also illegal.

      -Referees have been able to stop fights at their discretion since UFC 3 or so. Ringside doctors can also make a call to stop a fight. This is identical to boxing.

      -THE RULES ABSOLUTELY DO NOT VARY FROM STATE TO STATE IN ANY MEANINGFUL WAY. This is complete bullshit. The Unified Rules of MMA were created in the year 2000 and most of those were already in effect in the UFC specifically even before that. They have been adopted in every state where MMA has become legalized. There are slight alterations in some states like Ohio having a Cruiserweight division for amateur fighters and New Mexico having a 2 lbs. weigh-in allowance for (non-title) fights, but the Unified Rules are universal in the U.S. and Canada and even internationally none of the stuff you mentioned deviates from the Unified Rules.

      The Unified Rules of MMA were later formally accepted by the 86-member Association of Boxing Commissions and are enforced in 46 of the 47 states (and D.C.) that sanction MMA (the exception being Montana, where the state doesn’t actually regulate MMA beyond licensing fighters, although technically the Unified Rules are still on the books even there). Alaska lacks a state athletic commission but the MMA indy scene follows the Unified Rules afaik.

      I’m also on record as being opposed to use of steroids, HGH, testosterone, any of that.

      Also illegal dude.

      I have a problem with these “religious” people trying to get things banned. Anytime people imbued with some kind of “calling” get involved, it makes things worse.

      This isn’t really a major obstacle here tbh. The Las Vegas Culinary Union has a bone to pick with Station Casinos, who share an owner with UFC majority owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertita, and have quite transparently been the driving force behind trying to block the UFC. I’m not anti-union but this is some low-down dirty shit they’re playing.

      • Black Dog says:

        Well. All I can say is, “I stand corrected.”

        I guess the point I was trying to make, and did not do so well at, was to bring better attention to unified rules, and also bear in mind safety of the fighters. As I said before you can have a competitive fight without moves that could cause permanent injury.

        In the end, I do believe there eventually will be sanctioned MMA events in New York, but it will remain a long, tortuous process.

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