Reputation in jeopardy
Edmonton's good name under scrutiny after commission gives green light to contentious card
The fuse has been lit.
Now it's just a matter of time before the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission (ECSC) either blows itself up or is blasted back to sensibility and competence.
Partially due to concerns raised in this column last week, the ECSC on Wednesday was served notice by the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) that Edmonton risks being branded an outlaw city for boxing and mixed martial arts events because of an arbitrary decision to approve Japanese "Dream" rules for an upcoming MMA promotion.
The Missouri-based ABC monitors member commissions in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The ECSC has been an associate member for the past 12 years.
Dated Jan. 20, the official notification from ABC president Tim Lueckenhoff sent to both ECSC executive director Pat Reid and the Edmonton Sun states: "This correspondence shall place the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission on notice that the Association of Boxing Commissions is not in support of these drastic changes to the Unified Rules of mixed martial arts as adopted by the ABC."
Last month, without a vote or approval by the ECSC, Reid arbitrarily approved the Dream rules for the upcoming CCF-5 card promoted by Pasqualino Santoro, president and owner of Colloseo Championship Fighting.
Among other deviations from the Unified Rules of MMA, Dream rules allow knee strikes to the head of a downed/grounded fighter and kicks to the head of a downed/grounded fighter when both combatants are down.
Shoes can be worn in the ring and fights consist of a 10-minute opening round followed by a five-minute second round. In an interview with the Edmonton Sun on Thursday, Lueckenhoff said the ECSC's obtuse stance has already drawn the wrath of other ABC members.
"There's been discussion that if Edmonton goes through with this, there will have to be a discussion about their associate member status ... and I'm sure there will be some adamant demands for it to be revoked," he said.
"It's embarrassing for Edmonton to be branded a rogue commission, absolutely.
"To have a commission that radically modifies the rules to satisfy one promoter throws open the door to a whole new set of problems.
"The other door it opens is that if a fighter is seriously injured, or worse, under those new rules, it's going to be a very, very big problem for the Edmonton commission. I can't understand why they're doing it."
Fallout from the ECSC being branded a rogue entity could have far-reaching implications for both MMA and boxing.
Milan Lubovac, who's been training and managing local fighters for more than a quarter century, put it best: "It's damaging the credibility of our sport, yes, but it's also damaging the credibility of our city. It's a big black eye for Edmonton. When out-of-town fighters, managers and promoters see what a mess our commission is in, they won't come here.
"It's killing us."
Mayor Stephen Mandel and the city council that oversees the ECSC should not take Lubovac's warning lightly.
Promoters like Glen Carriere (KO Boxing), Ken Lakusta (Big Bang Promotions), Sheldon Hinton (PrimeTime Promotions) and Mark Pavelich (Maximum Fighting Championship) have worked hard to keep boxing and MMA alive here.
Carriere and Pavelich, in particular, have repeatedly succeeded in showcasing the City of Champions on network and cable TV across North America while at the same time making a major economic impact locally.
Sadly, as underlined by the ABC's recent censure, the egregious arrogance of the current Edmonton Combative Sports Commission is putting all of that at risk.
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