STAR-BULLETIN / SEPTEMBER 2006
Lowen Cabuag kicks Kenneth Gusman in the head during a mixed martial arts event at the Blaisdell Arena. A state analysis recommends the industry come under state regulation.
Report recommends regulation of combat sport
The state is one step closer to regulating mixed martial arts in Hawaii.
The Office of the Auditor released its analysis yesterday of a proposal to regulate the sport. State law requires the review before enactment of new regulations on previously unregulated vocations or professions.
Lawmakers considered a bill to regulate the sport last year, and the measure was reintroduced this year. The House Tourism and Culture Committee was scheduled to hear House Bill 1866 this morning at the state Capitol.
"So many people are interested in the sport because it has gotten so lucrative," said state Rep. Jerry Chang, who introduced the measure. "We need to weed out the ones coming in just for the money."
Chang (D, South Hilo-Waiakea Kai-Kaumana-Keaukaha) said some promoters have put on events here without paying the fighters.
The auditor's report recommends adopting much of last year's legislation, with some changes.
Instead of establishing a mixed martial arts commission favored by promoters, the report recommends the industry come under direct regulation of the director of the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. The director would appoint an advisory committee to develop state rules on how the law will be implemented.
J.D. Penn, President of Rumble World Entertainment, one of the largest promoters of mixed martial arts events in Hawaii, likes the change, as long as people from the sport are involved.
"I have no problem with putting together rules for all mixed martial arts," Penn said.
Other changes include requiring contestants to provide their criminal history from the Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center and furnish results of HIV and hepatitis testing. Recommendations also call for a medical report completed within six months of their scheduled event and their fight record to demonstrate their fitness to compete.
Chang said he likes the auditor's proposed changes and will recommend the committee adopt them.
State law prohibits no-rules combat, extreme and ultimate fighting, and other similar events. But since 2005, mixed martial arts competitions were allowed if promoters obtain an exemption from the state DCCA and met certain requirements to protect the safety of contestants.