A bill that would rewrite many of Wisconsin boxing’s medical and licensing rules and apply them to Mixed Martial Arts received a public hearing Tuesday before the Senate Committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs. MMA promoters, athletes, physicians and officials backed the measure which is sponsored by Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and Representative Pedro Colon (D-Milwaukee).
Senator Bob Wirch (D-Pleasant Prairie) raised concerns on how dangerous the fast growing sport is. He’s heard of former NFL players who have brain damage despite all their protective helmets where as MMA competitors don’t even wear headgear. Dr. Tim Westlake, an Oconomowoc EMS physician explained that brain injury is the result of more than just impact.
Westlake, a Brazilian Jiujitsu blackbelt, also cited a 2006 Johns Hopkins study that claims MMA is safer than boxing in regards to brain injury.
Cheryl Clancy, a former Milwaukee Public School principal, spoke of the positive benefits to children who’ve participated in a Brazilian Jiujitsu program administered by MPS and the Duke Roufus Gym. Clancy has seen her own benefits as well, losing 100 pounds from boxing and kickboxing training with Roufus.
Despite Wisconsin having no regulation of MMA, the co-owner of a popular fight promotion in Madison said he’s already been implementing some of the legislation provisions. Pat O’Malley of Madtown Throwdown told lawmakers he has always provided ringside physicians and insurance for athletes who get injured. He said requiring it statewide it would “even the playing field.”
About dozen people testified in favor of the bi-partisan legislation, no one spoke out against it.