From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Not so tough on Toughman.

In Original Toughman, Steve Harrelson on 16 January 2009 at 12:02 pm

Readers with an interest in bloodsport may remember last year’s controversy over Original Toughman, a lightly regulated amateur boxing circuit in which (theoretically) inexperienced fighters flail at/pound on one another.  When a Toughman contestant died after a Texarkana fight in early 2008, Rep. Steve Harrelson said he would try to pass legislation banning the event in Arkansas during this legislative session.

Now Harrelson says Arkansas won’t been joining Texas and several other states in barring Toughman. He told me he has been unable to come up with enough support to pass the ban he wants.

However, Harrelson won’t be dropping the issue entirely. He said he would work to increase state oversight of the event.

Legislation in 2001 exempted Original Toughman from Arkansas Athletic Commission regulations. Supporters of the law have argued that it made Toughman safer than it was previously. But the exemption also ensured that Toughman is not required to meet certain safety standards. Toughman organizers do not have to have an ambulance on hand at matches, and they do not have to submit contestants’ fighting records to scrutiny in order to ensure fair matches.

Though specifics of a possible bill are unclear, Harrelson said he would be working with Senator Tracy Steele in an effort to pass new regulations.

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