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What Will It Take To Legalize MMA in New York State? A Little Old-Fashioned Grease

The NY Post is reporting that Zuffa Entertainment, owners of the UFC, have come across with some serious money to aid Democratic Candidate for Governor in NY State Andrew Cuomo’s election campaign.

According to the Post, Zuffa has delivered nearly $75,000 dollars to the coffers of the Cuomo campaign to move legislation along that would essentially legalize MMA in the state.

Zuffa has been grinding away at the New York State Legislature in an effort to get MMA fights sanctioned there, and the most high-profile obstacle to that goal is Assemblyman  Bob Reilly. At this point, Reilly has managed to stonewall legalization efforts with the help of his cronies, but that might all change with the new guard in New York politics.

Reilly put together a little tome entitled “The Case against Ultimate Fighting in New York State.” The main points of this gem are the following arguments:

1. Ultimate fighting is a form of violence that harms the participants and has a negative effect on children, adults and our society as a whole.

2. Ultimate fighting would have a negative effect on the economics of New York state and local municipalities.

3. The majority of New Yorkers do not want ultimate fighting legalized in New York State.

Other than the fact that at least two of those arguments are clearly spurious, it’s a decent argument.

Whether or not “the majority of New Yorkers” want to keep cage fights out of their state is surely open to debate, but the fact is, Reilly could be right. New York State has a long history of Bluenosed opposition to combat sports dating back to the turn of the century.

Dating back to the Lewis Law in 1900, New York had criminalized “prizefighting” in 1859, and made it a misdemeanor to engage in, arrange or help a fighter train for a “prizefight.” The Horton law expanded the definition of this misdemeanor to include “public or private sparring exhibition[s], with or without gloves, within the state, at which an admission fee is charged or received.” Fighters and promoters got around that piece of legislation by forming clubs and athletic associations. Under the law, those associations where allow to conduct “sparring sessions,” and clubs like the Coney Island Athletic Club and Lennox Athletic Club basically used the loophole to conduct cards.

The Horton Law of 1900 then expanded the law to permit fights to be conducted in New York State and did not specify any limit to the number of rounds, permitted decisions by referees and allowed for the posting of forfeits and placing of side bets.

Opponent of combat sports continued to use inside political pressure to prevent fights from taking place in major venues in the state, so those cards were often conducted in New Jersey or on barges on the Hudson river.

In 1920, Senator James J. Walker, a fan of boxing, pushed through what would become the model for boxing legislation in this country, The Walker Law. The New York Senate passed it 30-19, and fights were once again legal in New York state. That law, among its other sensible virtues, established standard weight divisions for fight promoters to follow.

The question now?

Will a little good, old-fashioned grease for the wheels of the political machine get the job done for MMA in New York State?

  • Rece Rock says:

    Along with that $75,000.00 Zuffa needs to get the public the cold hard facts of just how much revenue this sport can generate to a slumping NY economy… I know Zuffa did a study of the economic projections for NYS and NYC but the results need to be updated and real case studies need to be presented for public knowledge, meaning they need to show how much revenue they provide to neigboring states like NJ and Mass…Another thing they need to do is present the facts that the sport is now sanctioned and rules are much different then the earlier days, I’m a resident of NY and I’m sure just like anywhere else theres ppl still walking around thinking fighters are in there killing each other and it’s anything goes and that fighters aren’t trained atheletes but rather that they are street thugs and road house bouncers out for a blodd thirsty pay day. Zuffa should be doing expos & sparring with meet & greets in NY and should def. try and do more cards in near by NJ… I know things are easier said than done but I’m telling you $ 75,000 is not the answer… I’m sure the under the table donations make $75,000 look like pennies… Zuffa needs to convince a city with a Superiority compex that they are missing out on something and that something is valuable and a hot commodity, that they don’t have.

  • Dufresne says:

    I think holding UFC 118 just around the corner in Boston was probably part of their “look at what you could be getting” campaign. The weigh-ins alone averaged almost 400k viewers and the prelims on SPIKE were over 1 million viewers. Those kinds of numbers equate to huge amounts of money really quickly, and I’m betting NYC was thinking how much better it would have been if those tax dollars were in their pockets instead.

  • gy614x says:

    1. Ultimate fighting is a form of violence that harms the participants and has a negative effect on children, adults and our society as a whole.

    Harms both participants, so im guessing people do not get hurt boxing or playing football in New York, yet those are legal.

    as for a negative effect on society, i think MMA is that last thing NY or anywhere has to worry about that, Not having it sanctioned there doesnt prevent people from buying the events on PPV and watching it non the less.

    I hate people

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Hey I’m people.

  • SamMMAFanBronx says:

    I am a Black Conservative New Yorker (probably the only one in NYC).

    I find it funny, that New York City, a big liberal, live and let live city has the audacity to tell us what we can and cannot consume.

    Shove a mosque down our throats, that a majority of NYers believe is inappropriate and insensitive.

    Try to pass Homosexual marriage against the will of the people.

    Tell us what we can and cannot consume by banning MMA.

    That is the state I love & hate.

  • Angry Mike says:

    What a sordid affair. In order to give the consumers what they want, and what most states allow, Zuffa has to make a thinly veiled payoff to a scumbag like Cuomo, who has the cajones to put his hand out while running for governor on his credentials as the top law enforcement official of the state. Zuffa should grease the opposition, too, because if he wins, he may punish Zuffa.

  • Rece Rock says:

    The current Gov. is not opposed to MMA sanctioning but it still did not get passed so they can grease the front runner in the race but its all the other pricks that vote on stuff that need the convincing

  • Dufresne says:

    Hey I’m people.

    No you’re not. You’re just a bunch of pixels that makes comments on a webpage in my brain. You can’t out think me in my own head!

    Zuffa should grease the opposition, too, because if he wins, he may punish Zuffa.

    I’m not sure how they can punish the UFC anymore than they currently are. But buying the guy a new car and/or house might make him change his mind.


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