Now that the Nanaimo athletics commission is gone, its former members look optimistically to provincial regulation of amateur combat sports.
The B.C. government introduced regulations that "give clarity and confidence" to the sector that allows amateur events to happen, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Coralee Oakes said earlier this month. Some in the sector said clarity was needed to prevent questionable events from being put on, which unnecessarily put competitors at risk.
Now that the province has stated how regulation will look, Coun. Jim Kipp, and fellow former commissioners Ed Garner and Merv Unger say they're satisfied with the direction regulation is taking.
An unregulated sport raises the risk of injuries and blood-to-blood contamination, and an associated spread of disease.
In Nanaimo those risks were reduced locally through the athletic commission, which was disbanded in June in advance of provincial regulation.
"I'm quite happy with that coming forward, with professionals having to be reviewed by the province now," said Kipp.
Recent changes to the Criminal Code require provinces to designate amateur combat sports as either regulated or unregulated.
In response, the province will require the regulation of mixed martial arts, kickboxing, pankration and Muay Thai through the B.C. Athletic Commissioner.
For now amateur combat sports on the International Olympic or Paralympic Committee lists, including boxing, wrestling, tae kwon do and judo are exempt from commissioner regulation.
The government will not require event regulation for wushu, karate, kung fu, grappling and jiu jitsu.
In Nanaimo, events such as the So You Wanna Fight were locally controlled to ensure fighter safety.
Elsewhere in the province, "we would see amateur events where there was no blood work done, so you could be fighting someone who is HIV-positive," said Garner, a 30-year athletic commissioner.
"Or a guy could be knocked out the week before (creating an) extreme risk for brain damage." Some events were held without a doctor to treat injured fighters.
"Hopefully this will stop that happening," Garner said.
Unger expressed similar sentiments.
"This was the right way to go," he said by email. "During my term on the Nanaimo Athletic Commission I advocated for the change to province-wide regulation.
"In too many communities there was no control, and that was not to the benefit and protection of the participants."
Kipp hopes clarity in the rules will stop to questionable events where there is no guarantee safe practices are being followed.
© Copyright 2013