Tuesday, April 24, 2012

California Assemblyman Luis Alejo Proposes a "Bill of Rights" for Mixed Martial Artists

This is the news of the day that didn't make the news. Better yet, it might as well be the news of the year because if passed, this new law that was recently proposed in California, could change the entire mixed martial arts industry.

California assemblyman Luis Alejo has proposed a bill that could apply the federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act to mixed martial artists.

The bill addresses such protections as identity rights and coercive contracts. This is the same type of law that Zuffa's corporate rival in New York, the Culinary Union, has been pressing for in New York. If passed, this kind of legislation will be unprecendented in mixed martial arts. It could also serve as the basis for such extensions of the Muhammad Ali Act on the federal level and in other states.

Tuesday, April 24 2012 Professional Bill of Rights for MMA Athletes AB 2100 Reforms Contractual Practices in MMA (SACRAMENTO)— Assembly Member Luis A. Alejo’s (D-Salinas) AB 2100 would protect professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters in California from certain exploitative business practices.

“Tragically, many athletes who compete professionally in mixed martial arts in California are subjected to pervasive exploitation by some fight promoters,” said Alejo. “These fight promoters exploit the dreams of young fighters by promising lucrative careers. But once these fighters enter the business, they are required to surrender many of their rights. As a result, these talented athletes are often unable to make enough money to support themselves and their families in the sport they love.”

The bill would protect professional fighters licensed in California from the following exploitative, oppressive and coercive practices:
  • Requiring athletes to relinquish all rights to their own identities “in perpetuity.” This deprives athletes of the opportunity to make money from video games, clothing and other merchandise made with their names or images.
  • Pressuring athletes to sign coercive contracts by banning them from lucrative events and denying them the right to compete in important contests if they do not agree to certain terms.
  • Restricting athletes’ freedom of movement and ability to negotiate for higher pay through coercive clauses that “automatically renew” promotional contracts.
  • Frustrating athletes’ freedom to benefit financially from their own success by placing unreasonable restrictions on sponsorships.
The bill also would extend certain legal protections already afforded to professional boxers under the federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000.

The following California fighters will testify in support of the bill at an April 25th legislative hearing in the Assembly Committee on Arts, Entertainment, Sports, Tourism and Internet Media: Retired four-time defending, undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Frank Shamrock; current lightweight fighter and former Maximum Fighting Championship (MFC) champion Antonio D. McKee; and former UFC light heavyweight turned attorney Christian Wellisch.

Others expected to testify in support of the bill is a representative from the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association (MMAFA) and a broad coalition of labor unions.

“As a result of coercive contractual practices, competitive market forces have been strangled, future earnings power of the athletes is stripped away by the promoter, and purses to the athlete are artificially depressed,” said Rob Maysey, founder of the MMAFA. “There is no legal, economic or other legitimate explanation as to why mixed martial artists should be afforded less protection or have fewer rights than their boxing counterparts.”

Luis Alejo represents the 28th District in the California State Assembly, which consists of San Benito County, the Salinas Valley, North Monterey County, South Santa Clara County and the city of Watsonville. Contact: Marva Diaz, Marva.Diaz@asm.ca.gov, (916) 319-2028

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