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Lift the Ban Watch: South Carolina Makes Progress, Problems Arise in Canada

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Details are scant, but one can hope this comes to fruition:

A bill allowing mixed martial arts contests in South Carolina is up for debate by lawmakers.

The bill by Republican Rep. Jim Merrill of Daniel Island and co-sponsored by 24 other House members of both parties is on the agenda of a subcommittee Tuesday.

The measure would repeal South Carolina's ban on such fighting events. The idea died last year in a Senate panel.

A contest was held at the Marines' training facility at Parris Island in October. The state had no jurisdiction because it was on a military installation.

Parris Island is the East coast location of Marine Corps boot camp. As a former three month resident of the island, I can certainly say MMA and USMC values are birds of a feather flocking together. One can only hope this bill passes and South Carolinians (including Marines stationed near Beaufort) can take advantage of the new laws.

However, not all is well. There are problems afoot in Canada. Grant Nordman, a Winnipeg councilor, wants to ban MMA contests in the city after an 18-year old fighter collapsed and was rushed to the hospital after a three round fight. Nordman now "has instructed the city's Community Services Department to explore what measures Winnipeg could take to institute a ban on mixed martial arts events". Fortunately, it appears cooler heads might prevail:

Dr. Henry Janzen, chair of the Manitoba Boxing Commission, said mixed martial arts events were illegal in Manitoba until 2006. For the event to pass MBC standards, there must be a doctor and ambulance at every fight, and competitors must pass yearly medical exams.

"Prior to us making those approvals, the events still occurred all across Manitoba but there'd be no doctors there, there'd be no medicals, there'd be no ambulance. So these were occurring without any safety precautions for the combatant or even for the fans," Janzen said.

Another councillor, Dan Vandal, who is also a member of the Manitoba Boxing Commission, agreed it makes no sense to ban mixed martial arts, one of the fastest-growing sports in North America.

"If we, the government, ban mixed martial arts, it will just go underground, where there will be no doctors or paramedics.

"In a situation like that, the young gent on Friday night would be dead today," said Vandal, who boxed professionally before entering politics. According to DeNatale, there have been no Canadian deaths as a result of a regulated mixed martial arts fight. In November 2007, an American MMA fighter died in Texas after being knocked out during a fight.

I am loathe to drawing larger conclusions about this matter until I am able to learn more about the fighter, the specifics of his injury and watch the fight in question (however, I have to wonder whether an 18-year old fighter has sufficient experience to turn professional; I don't think age is necessarily a factor that is relevant, but the fighter's age did catch my attention. I also wonder whether there were sufficient screens in place to catch any medical conditions that would've prevented competition. The regulations of athletic commisions vary from state to state and city to city). Anyone who has information about this matter in that regard is encouraged to email me. Stay tuned.