Cage fighting draws city's attention
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Hartselle's City Council and the promoter of "Alabama Extreme Cage Fighting" matches are locked in a battle of their own.
City Attorney Larry Madison is seeking an attorney general's opinion to determine if the fights are legal. Madison will also ask if the city can lawfully license such activities and tax the revenues in the same manner as other amusements.
Before Madison moves ahead with the AG opinion, he said he will consult the Alabama Athletic Commission to get their opinion about cage fighting.
"I'm satisfied that prize fighting is illegal in Alabama," Madison said. "It's against the law to consent to have yourself assaulted. If the athletic commission says cage fighting is legal, it's something we'll have to deal with. If they say it's illegal then I suggest that you go ahead and get an opinion form the attorney general's office."
Madison said the opinion from the athletic commission should be back by the end of the week.
Robert Clairday, owner of Clairday's Boxing and Sports Center, promotes the matches. He disputes claims they are illegal.
"I'm not trying to pull anything over on the city," Clairday said. "I'm licensed as Clairday's Boxing and Sports Center and I've held kick boxing and mixed martial arts competitions at Sparkman Civic Center for 25 years. "We brought 1,100 people to town to see the fights last weekend."
Such crowds, Madison said raises the issue of crowd control, too.
"This raises the issue of police control," he said. "An amusement tax would help pay for that service."
Clairday's attorney, Catherine Hallbrooks, asked the council for a copy of the letter seeking the attorney general's opinion before it is submitted. Madison said the letter is public record.
Halbrooks went on to question why the council was worrying about the matches.
"This council has no idea what goes on at a cage fight. It's a sad state of affairs that you have wasted Mr. Clariday's time. Why weren't these questions asked 25 years ago?" she said.
Clairday challenged Madison's statement about consensual fighting being illegal in the state.
"What about Golden Gloves boxing that has been going for 50 years?" he asked.
Councilman Bill Drake said the trailer mounted signs with the caption "Alabama Extreme Cage Fighting" is what caught his attention to the issue. He said he was approached by some people who had also seen the signs and wondered what they were all about.
"No one is trying to shut down a legitimate business. There's a difference between kick boxing and cage fighting," he said. "But my only issue is whether or not it's legal to have this type of fighting."
Clairday said the state does not have a boxing commission but he said the cage fights he puts on are subject to regulations taken from the Nevada Boxing Commission.
"We have a list of 31 fouls and they're strictly enforced," Clairday said. "If it was illegal to hold cage fighting competitions do you think they would be staged at venues like the Von Braun Civic Center in Huntsville or the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex?"