Canadian city wants to ban MMA citing 'secret' organized crime ties


The city of Vernon, BC is seeking to ban mixed martial arts events, citing among things, ties to organized crime. However, town officials say they are not at liberty to share specifics.

Charlotte Helston has the story.

The City of Vernon wants to ban mixed martial arts (MMA) events because, as Coun. Bob Spiers put it, “the association with the type of people that run those events and the type of people that show up” and the potential liabilities. He also called MMA a "ridiculous sport."

Mayor Rob Sawatzky gave two reasons for the ban: MMA endangers participants’ health and he cited “discussions over the last couple of years from the police informing us that there’s a very strong historical and well known relationship between mixed martial arts events and organized crime.”

“The first was a year ago with an organized crime specialist who came in to speak to us with lots of specific information, organized crime names, dates, specific involvements,” Sawatzky says.

The second presentation was a verbal update from the police. Sawatzky refused to say more because of “implications with informants and police."

Read entire article...

The mixed martial arts community reacted with outrage.

Salmon Arm resident Brenda Davidson, whose son fights competitively, is outraged by the mayor’s remarks.

“His comments are uninformed and absolutely offensive. I’m associated, as is my son, and I’d say they are some of the finest professional athletes I’ve ever met,” Davidson says.
She’s attended numerous MMA events, from Penticton to Nanaimo, and says they have all been well organized, clean and safe. While there have been few, if any, MMA events held in Vernon or Kelowna in recent years, competitions have been popular in Penticton and Kamloops hosted an event without any issues just a few months ago.

“There’s no brawling, no drugs, I’ve never seen a fight in the stands, no derogatory comments being yelled,” Davidson says. “The men that go into the ring, it’s not about fighting unrefereed. It’s fierce combat with great bravery and courage and discipline. All the attributes I’ve seen are highly admirable as opposed to those of a politician.”

“My son loves what he does. He is super dedicated, eats clean, doesn’t drink or take drugs,” she says. “I have a friend whose son wanted to serve in Afghanistan, and people asked her how could you let him?”

Kelowna coach and owner of Toshido Mixed Martial Arts David Lea says the rules and Regulations set out by the B.C. Athletic Commission make the fighter’s safety paramount.

“Literally a quick Google search shows MMA isn’t even in the top three or four sports for head injuries. Hockey and football outweigh MMA. These claims Vernon council is trying to make have already been looked at and debunked,” Lea says.

Lea coaches pro fighters Rory MacDonald and Sarah Moras, and teaches MMA to men, women, children and even RCMP officers. He says the sport is positive for both mind and body, involving hard work, perseverance, respect and focus.

“It’s not the sensationalized blood sport it was marketed as in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” Lea says.

Lea says the statement about MMA being connected to organized crime  is “nauseating” and insists Vernon council has no right, or grounds, to ban MMA events.

“When it comes down to it, members of the Vernon municipal government may not be fans of the sport and they’ve taken it upon themselves to make that decision for others,” Lea says.

Read entire article...

City staff is currently drafting a bylaw to prohibit MMA events for council’s consideration.


tags: Regulation   canada   British Columbia   


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Recent Comments »

ErikMagraken site profile image  

7/24/14 1:09 AM by ErikMagraken

The City of Vernon has now confirmed that they are dropping the intended ban on ammy MMA and the proposed law will only target pro MMA. The Bill is now set for First Reading on August 11. Latest details here -

rkm456 site profile image  

7/21/14 7:29 PM by rkm456

There was a time that was how people talked about the federal liberals. Coincidentally it was also when the economy was at its best. It's almost like they're all scam artists...

ErikMagraken site profile image  

7/21/14 12:28 AM by ErikMagraken

There is a strong argument that the City's proposed ban on ammy MMA is ultra vires (outside of their legal powers). The City appears to now be aware of this and they are considering limiting the ban to only professional MMA events. I've canvassed the details here for those that are interested -

Dougie site profile image  

7/20/14 5:05 PM by Dougie

True story, and yet it was the liberals that legalized MMA in Ontario so they could access the revenue from it. Proving that the Liberals have a lot in common with organized crime.

rkm456 site profile image  

7/20/14 1:39 PM by rkm456

Where did anyone say that MMA should be banned? Or that anything should be banned because of OC ties? All that anyone has said is that for all of the inaccurate statements the city of Vernon could have made, having OC ties isn't likely one of them. Don't get upset with people for not just wholesale saying "Yeah, fuck those guys, they're idiots." Worry more about changing the perspective of the sport in the public view.

David Lea site profile image  

7/20/14 12:32 PM by David Lea

No one is naive to the fact that OC has had its fingers in the fight game. The reality is OC has its fingers in everything. So if you want to go after MMA in Vernon, you better be banning car dealerships, restaurants, hockey, and city hall for that matter.

Herman Munster site profile image  

7/20/14 9:41 AM by Herman Munster

Ontario liberals are the biggest group of organized scumbag criminals in Canada.

effinggoof site profile image  

7/20/14 9:36 AM by effinggoof

Lets face the facts here.BC's MMA community is extremely connected to organised crime.Gym owner/clothing line owner Joe Krantz was shot dead in front of gym in Abbotsford.Another guy was shot dead in the parking lot of Universal Martial Arts in Burnaby.Tim T was shot in the leg after fighting in North Van by some gangsters who had a problem with him. I think it was in the parking lot.Revolution Fight Team was pretty open about being a HA gym.Now don't get me wrong...I am not saying that Vernon should ban MMA, but they are not wrong about fighters and gyms being connected with MMA here in BC.

Dougie site profile image  

7/19/14 11:26 PM by Dougie

Organized crime got MMA off the ground and running in Canada. Not saying it's right or wrong but it did.Without OC there would be no MMA here. Why? It's easy to wash money through mma events and you have the gambling etc. But there are places like night clubs that offer the same thing to OC. Banning MMA because of it is just silly imo.

Jimmy Wrassler site profile image  

7/19/14 7:23 PM by Jimmy Wrassler

Well, hes not wrong  (opens in new window)