According to VT Digger Randy Felion of Rutland, VT has been hit with a $22,500 fine for promoting unlicensed backyard brawls, some of which involved children as young as 6. Also included in that fine were penalties for breaking state COVID-19 restrictions.
Laurent Hibbert, director of the Vermont Office of Professional Regulations, revealed that Felion’s fine was the largest administrative penalty she had ever seen.
Felion is the creator of Fight Night Promotions and VTBeefs. Those promotions involve putting on fights between mostly untrained people who have personal grudges with each other. The fights are taped in an amateur fashion and uploaded to social media. The fights often take place outside and without a ring or a cage. Some of these events included a live crowd of up to 300 people.
Felion is not registered as a fighter or promoter with the state National Boxing Registry. Last June he was hit with a cease and desist order from Vermont’s Attorney General and Secretary of State. In addition to being warned of violations to the state’s combat sports licensing laws, Felion was also cautioned over breaking public gathering limits that were set out by Governor Phil Scott in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Authorities say that Felion, who occasionally fought at these shows, continued to hold events after this cease and desist order.
At one event in May, the state alleged that several of the fights—which took place on a matted floor with chain-link fencing around it—were between boys that ranged in age between six and ten. The boys reportedly had no martial arts training, other than having watched “a few videos” of fighting techniques.
“One of the children in the choke-hold had trouble breathing and speaking because of the choke-hold,” read a court order regarding this event. “One child who had ‘lost’ his match was crying while the crowd was yelling and screaming in the whipped-up atmosphere fueled by the loud music, roving strobe lights and alcohol.”
“The Respondent’s flagrant, broad, and continuing disregard of public health and safety in a time of pandemic, including the Respondent’s exploitation of young vulnerable children in a way that placed them at great and continuing risk, is heinous and justifies imposition of the maximum penalties allowed by law,” concluded the order.
Felion’s fine is due within 90 days of the order, which was issued on March 31st.