Group: Ont. losing millions with MMA ban

KEVIN CONNOR, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:29 PM ET

TORONTO - The Ontario government is losing tens of millions of dollars a year by not sanctioning mixed martial arts events, a rally at Queen’s Park heard Saturday.

“Fifty million dollars was brought into Montreal for one single event,” Louden Owen, chairman of The Fight Network, told 300 fans at the rally.

He also said that Ontario is losing about $40 million a year in revenue as fans travel out of the province to watch live fights.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has said that sanctioning MMA events is not a priority for his government.

Ontario Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said McGuinty has turned his back on potential jobs and tourism benefits.

“Dalton McGuinty should stop wrestling with himself ‹ bring those MMA jobs and tourism benefits to Ontario,” Hudak said.

Shah Franco, a professional MMA teacher, said fans need to talk to their politicians.

“Push politicians with your vote to get MMA legal in Ontario. Ask them to put in writing where they stand,” Franco said.

The rally was organized with the hopes of getting the government to have another look at sanctioning the sport in Ontario, said Jeff Joslin, a professional MMA fighter.

“I really don’t know why it is not sanctioned. The sport has been proven safe and it is wildly popular. I have been training since I was five years old and it is a positive thing because it has given me the ability to support my family and make a living while doing something I love. I have never had a job where I didn’t punch, kick or choke someone,” Joslin said.

Fan Cody Oliver was at the rally to support MMA.

“I believe it is a great sport and it is growing really fast and it is good for kids. It gets them off the streets and into a gym, where they can take their frustrations out in a different way,” said Oliver, who has been into MMA for 10 years.

“I’m dumbfounded why they don’t sanction this. They could be making a lot of money. I don’t know why they are punishing us and punishing themselves.” ¬


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