CBF increasing efforts to stop illegal shows

MURRAY GREIG -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

The Canadian Boxing Federation is ramping up its efforts to put an end to illegal prizefights and mixed martial arts promotions.

"In the past, the CBF has taken a stance against illegal boxing and so-called 'tough man' events, specifically in Alberta, B.C., and Saskatchewan. These events occur almost without exception without the standardized rules and safety precautions that legitimate commissions in Canada demand," Ed Pearson, the CBF's Edmonton-based secretary-treasurer, said yesterday.

"We're talking about things like proper matchmaking, standardized medical testing to ensure participants are in proper condition, qualified physicians at ringside, ambulances at the event in case of major injuries and so on.

"These are issues that have been addressed by the CBF over the past several decades, and are standard in most countries of the world, yet we continue to have these unsanctioned events happen in our own backyard."

Member commissions attending last week's CBF annual meeting acknowledged that unsanctioned events continue to slip through the cracks, in violation of Section 83 of the Criminal Code.

That section specifically brands prizefighting as "an illegal event unless held with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board or commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the legislature of a province for the control of sport within the province."

In the case of mixed martial arts, promoters often try to circumvent the regulations by forming their own sanctioning organizations, but, as Pearson pointed out, "the reality is that only a commission, duly authorized under provincial legislation, has the authority and jurisdiction to supervise and regulate combative sports in Canada."

Outgoing CBF president Orest Zmyndak said that so-called mixed martial arts councils "are not by any stretch a recognized authority, much less a legitimate regulatory body, amateur or professional."

In an effort to reduce the number of illegal events, individual commissions will prohibit certified ring officials within their jurisdiction from working unsanctioned shows. In addition, the CBF membership approved a resolution to continue to alert municipal authorities and the police regarding violations of Section 83.

"There are very good and respected promoters across Canada, for both boxing and MMA, who respect the laws and pay the cost of legitimacy by following the rules and regulations," said Pearson.

"In terms of financial costs to these promoters, there's no doubt that having to pay to have an ambulance, physicians, properly trained ring officials and permit fees takes away from the bottom line.

"But it's not a right in Canada to stage the types of potentially dangerous sports such as boxing and mixed martial arts, it's a privilege. And with the privilege comes the professional responsibility of safety and the costs associated with regulation."


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