The Muhammad Ali Act's extension to mixed martial arts has been in the works for several years now. I covered the topic 5 years ago when the UFC was still in the early stages of their fight for MMA legalization in New York. At the time, the Culinary Union was among the major elements blocking the sport's legalization in the Empire State.
The Muhammad Ali Extension Act was recently introduced in Congress by former professional MMA fighter, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK). If passed, I believe the Muhammad Ali Extension Act could lead to free agency in mixed martial arts.
H.R. 5365--A bill to amend the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 to include fighters of combat sports in the safety provisions of such Act; to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, and in addition to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.
The article below touches on the potential application of the Muhammad Ali Act of 2000 to MMA and makes connections to MMA legalization in NY, the Culinary Union
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Is Dana White willing to accept fighters' union and Muhammad Ali Act for MMA legalization in New York?
Never ask for too much because you may just get what you asked for and then some.
Dana White wants to see
MMA the UFC in New York. In order for this to happen, the sport must first be legalized by the New York State Senate. To ensure that this happens, Dana White (Zuffa) has monetarily and rhetorically lead an all-out campaign to motivate the legalization of MMA in New York. Yesterday the New York Daily News published an article by Dana White himself, titled "N.Y., stop fighting this sport: Mixed martial arts is safe -- and our economy needs the kick." The article is straight forward propaganda aimed at bringing the fastest growing sport to regulated play in New York. But, is Dana White willing to accept what it might take to get mixed martial arts sanctioned in the Empire State?
I posted an article last month that covered the topic of Dana White's bitter relationship with the Culinary Union. The union has made it their business to add some pro-Union flavor to the MMA legalization campaign in New York. UNITE HERE, the Culinary Union's umbrella labor organization, issued a memorandum that addressed their concerns of fair fighter pay, contract rights and exculisivity, and other issues. Noting the similarities between boxing and MMA, the memo identifies the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act and fighters' unions as components that should be considered in the overall scope of MMA legalization:
"Boxing and mixed martial arts have similar economic models. In each, the fighter is dependent on the promoter to make fights and to provide him with a livelihood. However, in mixed martial arts, there is also no central industry standard-setting body or a fighters' union. Given these similarities, strong legal safeguards against abusive and exploitative contracts between a promoter and a fighter should be carefully examined before mixed martial arts events are legalized in this State."
UNITE HERE's sentiments were shared by Walter Kane, an attorney who was pivotal in the formation of the Joint Association of Boxers, commonly referred to as the Boxer's Union. In a follow-up article, I posted a formal statement from Walter Kane:
"The Joint Association of Boxers fully supports MMA. I could see a time where the two organizations mutually support each other and form a close working relationship. JAB does not subscribe to belief that Boxers and MMA participants have adverse interests. The advancement of the interests of MMA fighters benefits Professional Boxers and vice versa. Both Professional Boxers and MMA fighters deserve full disclosure and transparency from promoters, arenas and television networks. Both groups need to recognize that their fellow participants are their greatest form of strength to fight back against exploitation by unscrupulous promoters."
In his latest edition of "No Holds Barred Radio," Eddie Goldman points out changes that he believes are needed in the New York legislation bill. As transcribed by FightOpinion.com:
“...In 2003, New York state passed a law called S3016 that basically put into state law the federal provisions of the 2000 Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act. I would like to see, along with many other people, the provisions of that law extended to Mixed Martial Arts. I know there are some that say, ‘Well, the Ali act by extension already applies to Mixed Martial Arts.’ Well, it doesn’t. It talks about boxing and boxers, it doesn’t talk about MMA fighters or football or tiddly winks or anything else and since John McCain was the main one pushing and in 2000 still opposed Mixed Martial Arts, there was no one you could say that was his intention. So, I think again even if there is an illegal gray area which I don’t think there is I think this law has to be explicitly amended to include Mixed Martial Arts and I’ve been told by people who know such legal matters all you’d really have to do to this law is to add the words MMA fighter or Mixed Martial Arts, that type of thing, wherever it says boxer or boxing and some of the key parts of this law on contracts are Sections 4 & 5 among others and you can go and look that up....
“A lot of fighters are forced exclusively to fight for Zuffa and not in other organizations, forced to sign over all sort of rights to Zuffa, and other things that I think have to be examined. We’re going to see what happens with all of this. I think it’s far from a closed issue what’s going to happen but I think it would be unfair to MMA fighters to have one set of regulations on contracts for boxers and another, weaker set of regulations on contracts for MMA fighters just as it is unfair to have one set of regulations for taxing gate receipts for boxing and another, more onerous one for taxing gate receipts for Mixed Martial Arts organizations.”
The above comments are just a few that represent calls for an MMA union and the Muhammad Ali Act into the MMA legislation process in New York. The point of the matter is, if Dana White is willing to promote legislation of MMA in New York, he should be willing to accept the the pro-Union and Muhammad Ali Act sentiments. By neglecting to address these two important issues that can positively affect fighters, Dana White only shows himself as supporting/promoting Zuffa (UFC and Strikeforce) in New York, not the MMA community. This is a clear opportunity for Mr. White to make unprecedented changes in how the mixed martial arts business operates. Will Dana consider changes that could have a positive impact on the livelihood and well-being of fighters, or will fatter wallets be his sole concern?