Thursday, March 29, 2007

Legislature seeks to regulate "ultimate fighting"

By O.Kay Henderson

The Iowa Legislature's taking steps to ensure the state isn't liable when someone is injured during an "ultimate fighting" competition. State officials wanted to regulate the sport the same way boxing's regulated. But Iowa's Labor Commissioner says there's no way to make the sport safe, and he recommends that legislators change the law so the state won't be asked to foot the bill when someone's injured during an "ultimate fighting" bout.

But Senator Herman Quirmbach, a Democrat from Ames, says the state should just ban ultimate fighting. "It is a barbaric, disgusting, degrading and subhuman activity that really has no place here in the state of Iowa," Quirmbach says.

Quirmbach argues that "ultimate fighting" isn't really a sport. "There's nothing (sportsmanlike) about holding someone down and beating them over the head," Quirmbach says. "There's nothing (sportsmanlike) about drawing blood profusely. There's nothing sportsmanlike about people being permanently disabled."

Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, isn't wild about the sport either. "You can sit on somebody's back with their head to the ground and punch 'em with your fist as many times as you want in the temple. Basically, the only thing that's not allowed is a blow to the back of the neck or a blow to the groin," Dotzler says. "If you try to regulate this to make it safe, that pretty much bans the sport."

And Dotzler says there aren't enough votes in the legislature to do that. "So because we can't regulate it, because we can't ban it, let's take us out of the regulation business...and allow those individuals who want to profit from this barbaric sport...they will be the ones held liable and not the state of Iowa," Dotzler says.

Senator James Seymour, a Republican from Woodbine, doesn't like it. "We may protect the state from liability...but I would submit to you that someone who is permanently disabled is likely to end up at the state's cost for the rest of their lives for medical treatment," Seymour says. "The state loses either way." Despite those arguments, the Iowa Senate voted 35 to 12 to approve a bill that gets the state out of the business of regulating ultimate fights. That bill now goes to the Iowa House.


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