From the Arkansas Statehouse...

Toughman roughed up.

In Original Toughman, Steve Harrelson on 6 March 2009 at 12:20 pm

Though Rep. Steve Harrelson has been unable to deal a knockout blow to Original Toughman, the elimination-style boxing contests that pits amateurs against one another, he succeeded today in convincing the House State Agencies Committee to bring Toughman and other amateur fights under the regulation of the State Athletic Commission. Rep. Harrelson took on the cause last year when a fighter died after a match in his Texarkana district.

Though Original Toughman promoters had fighting words for Harrelson when he first proposed banning the event in Arkansas, they agreed to Athletic Commission oversight. Toughman has been bloodied by total statewide bans over the past few years; several states, including Texas, would rather bar the event than regulate it.

Should Rep. Harrelson’s bill become law it will also affect amateur mixed martial arts fights, which have a following in Hot Springs.

The measure requires tougher safety precautions. Promoters will have to carry at least $5,000 in injury insurance for their fighters and another $5,000 in the case of a contestant’s death. The bill also gives the Athletic Commission authority to license referees for amateur fights. Rep. Harrelson said better ring umpiring will catch signs that a contestant is in danger.

The legislation would also ensure that fighters are matched fairly. Toughman rules establish broad weight categorizations; the State Athletic Commission’s stipulates narrower weight classes.

Promoters will pay the Athletic Commission 5% of gate receipts to fund the increased oversight.  Rep. Harrelson said he originally proposed taxing pay-per-view money, but that idea met opposition.

No one dissented in today’s vote. The bill goes on to the full House.

Read the sponsor’s take on the bill at Under the Dome.

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