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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