Call for change in Federal law in Canada

by Matt Kieltyka | source:

So much of the controversy surrounding mixed martial arts events in British Columbia comes down to one simple fact: The sport is technically illegal under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Section 83 of the Criminal Code says prize fights are banned unless they are boxing matches sanctioned by a provincially recognized athletic board or commission.

The term boxing is very specific to the sport and doesn't include professional kickboxing, MMA and other combat sports involving more than just fists. The government admits that section of the code is archaic, written long before the emergence of the sports mentioned above, but little has been done to rectify the wording.

Until that changes, the City of Vancouver will continue to protect themselves from liabilities via excessive insurance measures that prevent everyone but the UFC from coming into town and the provincial government will steer clear of much-needed sanctioning.

And true professional events, like the one Armageddon Fighting Championships held in Victoria Saturday, will be few and far between.

"The federal government needs to change the Criminal Code in terms of MMA," said AFC president Darren Owen. "Otherwise it's a game of pass the buck."

Owen said confusion over the laws -- with some jurisdictions taking it upon themselves to green light MMA events -- has been a "hang up" to the sport's progress.

"There is so much confusion over the law because it was written ages ago in a barn," he said. "If you talk to one educated lawyer they tell you MMA is illegal and you can talk to another educated lawyer and they tell you it's legal anywhere in Canada. It's ridiculous."

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tags: Legislation   Regulation   Canada   


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Recent Comments »

Enemies site profile image  

11/9/10 12:48 AM by Enemies

Easy. Phone up Webster and get them to change the definition of Boxing. Solved.

Gingerman site profile image  

11/8/10 11:19 PM by Gingerman

it really blows my mind how timid our canadian provincial goverments are with regulating MMA. Outside of koscheck, a majority of prize fighters are diciplined and respectful. Not a group of jackasses that just wanna brawl. The amount of revenu a promotion like The UFC, would bring to any city holding the venu would be much needed. and IMO the entertainment value of MMA far suprasses that of Professional Wrastlin or Boxing. i just think its foolish

Forssberg site profile image  

11/8/10 11:14 PM by Forssberg

"Boxing" is undefined in the CrC, whereas a legal "Boxing contest" is defined as a contest held with the permission etc etc. Nowhere does it say that MMA or kickboxing or MT or whatever else is not "Boxing" and nowhere does it say that MMA or kickboxing or MT or whatever else is ipso facto prize fighting. Hence, MMA or kickboxing or MT or whatever else can be a contest held with the permission of a provincial commission, hence they can be a "Boxing contest". What really matters for the purpose of the Criminal Code is not to discriminate among combat sports; it's that the athletes are protected by the supervision of a provincial body. I believe in all honesty that no serious Canadian court would entertain criminal porceedings against a provincially licensed and regulated event. The provinces are just passing the buck.That said, if something is important enough to be in the Cr C, and regulated nationally, then its definition should not be left to the provinces.

skibby site profile image  

11/8/10 9:35 PM by skibby

The fact I can go to a bar(in my case Ontario, but anywhere in Canada) and pay to watch an MMA event yet can't pay to actually watch the event is embarrassingly backassward. Goes without saying there's no bureaucracy involved...

Dougie site profile image  

11/8/10 9:25 PM by Dougie

 No. Quebec got through by calling MMA "mixed boxing" and that was all it took.

jellyman site profile image  

11/8/10 9:22 PM by jellyman

When was that law written? If it was before Marquis of queensbury you could argue MMA is closer to boxing back then

Ktaco site profile image  

11/8/10 8:50 PM by Ktaco

just looked in my criminal codeS. 83(2)"...or any BOXING contest held with the permission or under the authority of an athletic board or commission or similar body established by or under the authority of the lehislature of a province for the control of sport within the province, shall be deemed not to be a prize fight"Looks like OP is correct, they only state boxing as acceptable

Dougie site profile image  

11/8/10 7:56 PM by Dougie

 The law is fine. It allows for any combat sport as long as it is overseen by an athletic comission.