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New York Amateur Fights Include Fighters Denied Licenses Elsewhere for HIV
Posted by Jonathan Solomon on 05.21.2014

The year is 2014 and New York State remains the lone holdout in the United States that bans professional mixed martial arts. However, a legal loophole allowing amateur fights has inadvertently made the action taking place throughout the state more dangerous than anywhere else.

Journalist Jim Genia covered the story in a Deadspin article which includes a quote from Nick Lembo, chief counsel for the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board which specifies his concerns about fighters with HIV, hepatitis C and serious injuries. "There have been many contestants who have been banned from regulated combative sport in New Jersey because of subdural hematoma, hepatitis C, HIV, detached retinas, and other medical concerns who have competed freely in amateur MMA and kickboxing in New York under the direct supervision of state-approved sanctioning bodies, or at shows without such direct supervision," he said.

Amateur fights in New York may or may not be overseen by third-party sanctioning bodies such as the World Kickboxing Association, but there remains no firm obligations by promoters due to the lack of government regulation.

Normally routine aspects of the sport such as cage side physicians, on-site emergency medical personnel and access to pre and post-fight medical testing are hit or miss.

Recently, the New York State Senate voted affirmatively to legalize MMA, but for the fifth consecutive year, it appears the State Assembly will do nothing before their term concludes next month. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continues to insist there is not enough support and chooses to not bring the MMA legalization bill to a public vote. "I don't see a groundswell of support at this point," Silver was recently quoted as saying.

As long as the 1997 ban continues, the fighters competing on and others attending such shows in New York are at a greater risk than any other location in the country.


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