By James Hirsen, Special for USDR
New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is seeking to reverse an existing state law regarding mixed martial arts (MMA).
MMA was actually banned in New York, the only state in the nation to do so; this occurred when Sheldon Silver held the position of Speaker of the New York State Assembly.
The action that Gov. Cuomo is currently contemplating would provide, among other things, a much needed boost to the economy of the Empire State.
The industry that surrounds professional MMA is a proven job creator, and Silver, a persistent staunch advocate of the ban, is no longer in a position to block legislation that would lift New York’s prohibition, as he has been successful in accomplishing in the past.
In February, the Manhattan Democrat stepped down from his position as Assembly Speaker, a post that he had held for more than two decades; he did so following his arrest on federal corruption charges that he had allegedly taken nearly $4 million in kickbacks and payoffs. Silver has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Silver’s efforts resulted in New York being the sole state in the country to ban MMA, and six times the then-speaker used his office to halt the passage of bills that would simply have regulated the sport through the state house instead of prohibiting it altogether.
Silver was purportedly following the dictates of the Culinary Union of Las Vegas, which was involved in a battle with a non-union gaming company, Station Casinos. Station Casinos is owned by some of the same parties that are connected with one of the largest promotors of MMA, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
MMA is a blending of judo, karate, kick-boxing, wrestling, jiu-jitsu, and other fighting styles, which allows athletes that are trained in a wide variety of martial arts to compete against one another. One of the sport’s biggest stars is current woman’s bantamweight MMA champion Ronda Rousey, who has achieved a high degree of celebrity and garnered some major Hollywood attention.
Rousey was the first woman athlete to join the UFC and the group’s first bantamweight champion in the category. She was the first American female to win an Olympic medal in judo, having been awarded the bronze at the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing. She has won nine out of eleven matches within the first round by using the “arm bar,” a part of the jiu-jitsu tradition, and in her most recent bout she defended her UFC title in just fourteen seconds.
Actor Sylvester Stallone personally chose her to star in the film “The Expendables 3,” Rousey’s first role in a major motion picture. Additionally, she is featured in the 2015 film “Furious 7” and will be one of the female leads in the 2015 film version of the cable television show “Entourage.”
The accomplished athlete spoke to the NYFightblog website and addressed New York’s ban of her sport.
“The message from Ronda Rousey to the people keeping MMA from being legalized in New York is you got elected for a purpose, you need to do your job and represent your people instead of your own interests,” she stated.
Like football, hockey, auto racing, and numerous other sports, MMA involves a risk of injury, which is the justification that many politicians use in their attempts to ban the sport.
Currently, New York City, which has an extraordinary amount of world class sporting facilities, is diverting MMA-related business elsewhere, thus benefitting the residents of other states. At a time when the state has a genuine need for new employment opportunities, removing the ban on MMA could potentially facilitate a statewide surge of hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit.
Something of which sports enthusiasts across the nation need to be aware is that there is talk within political circles about a possible ban of MMA at the federal level, and additional bans of other sports as well.
In 2014 James Lee Offerman, Chairman of the Association of Boxing Commissions, announced that, at the urging of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a bill was expected to be passed in 2015 that would ban MMA competition in all 50 states.