OAC commissioner Ken Hayashi recently spoke with MMAWeekly about sanctioning MMA in Ontario along with the increasing number of MMA events taking place on Ontario Indian Reservations.
“Those guys are taking a big chance with putting on these shows. If someone gets seriously hurt there will be serious liability issues for those connected with the event and it will set the sport back several years in Ontario. Especially if it’s found that they’ve not done the due diligence that other professional athletic commissions are doing,” he explained, as he referred mainly to medical testing such as CAT scans, EEGs, and full blood work (Hep B, Hep C and HIV), which most other provincial commissions require.
“I highly doubt whether these guys are even making much money from these shows. The whole thing kind of makes me scratch my head,” continued Hayashi.
Last year a MMA event was held on the Oneida First Nation Indian Reserve just outside of London, Ontario. The Ontario Provincial Police has mixed feelings on the event as it fell under a grey spot in the Canadian judicial system. At the time OPP Constable Doug Graham said “We will conduct an investigation and determine whether this event fits the definition of a prize fight and whether it would be in the public’s interest to prosecute. It’s a strange situation; we’ve never been faced with something like this.”
“Our lawyers have concluded that these events are clearly illegal under section 83 of Canada’s Criminal Code, which does apply to these native reserves since it’s a federal law. But it’s not up to my office to lay charges. I have informed the local police to investigate the matter and it’s up to them to decide what to do. In Quebec a while back, they charged fighters as they stepped off the reserve, so that’s another option they have.”
Engaging in prize fight
83. (1) Every one who
(a) engages as a principal in a prize fight,
(b) advises, encourages or promotes a prize fight, or
(c) is present at a prize fight as an aid, second, surgeon, umpire, backer or reporter,
is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Definition of “prize fight”
(2) In this section, “prize fight” means an encounter or fight with fists or hands between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them, but a boxing contest between amateur sportsmen, where the contestants wear boxing gloves of not less than one hundred and forty grams each in mass, 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 legislature of a province for the control of sport within the province, shall be deemed not to be a prize fight.
In order for MMA to eventually be sanctioned in Ontario, Hayashi and The Ministry want to see amateur MMA first.
“There’s no way. The Ministry’s position is that we’ll first need to see an Amateur safety record established and Section 83 would also have to be reworded. Only then may the province choose to regulate MMA.”