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Hartselle asks AG if cage fighting is legal

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
The question of whether or not "cage fighting" is legal in Alabama is now in the hands of Attorney General Troy King.
A letter addressing that question was mailed from Mayor Dwight Tankersley's office on Friday after it was drafted by City Attorney Larry Madison. The city council authorized the move at its Aug. 28 meeting following a lengthy discussion with Robert Clairday, promoter of the fights, and his attorney Catherine Halbrooks.
But regardless of King's answer any future cage fights in Hartselle will have to be held somewhere besides the old Abercrombie Chevrolet building, across from city hall, or Sparkman Civic Center.
State Fire Marshall Ed Paulk said a letter was mailed from his office to Clairday on Monday informing him the building does not comply with the state fire code and can't be used for future cage fights.
"That building was not designed to accommodate spectator events but rather for merchantile use," Paulk said. "There were a number of violations found including an electrical system that does not meet the code and the absence of an emergency warning and evacuation system."
The council is also seeking King's answer to two other questions: If cage fighting is legal, is it subject to licensing as other businesses, particularly entertainment or amusement activities? And if cage fighting is legal, is it subject to amusement taxation as other public entertainment involving admission or participation charges?
Sparkman Civic Center has been rented by Clairday in the past to hold mixed martial arts events; however, Mayor Tankersley told council members at a Monday work session that an "event that requires the use of a rink on the gym floor will not be allowed use of the gym."
"Frank Miller (Parks &Recreation director) and I have talked about this," he said. "It doesn't make good sense to rent the gym for an event that is going to cause damage to the floor and cost the city much more than the rental fee to have it refinished. It's a policy matter that will apply to every individual or organization that rents the facility in the future."
Clairday said after the meeting he has the gym rented for a cage fight on Saturday, Sept. 22 and expects to be able to use it. He also is advertising a cage fight at the New Frontier Club in Decatur on Saturday, Sept. 15.
When asked what he would do if he is unable to hold fights in either the gym or the Abercrombie building he said he'd probably set up bleachers in a parking lot adjacent to the building and hold the fights outdoors.
Tankersley said the Alabama Athletic Commission deferred to its web site when City Attorney Larry Madison inquired last week to find out if cage fighting is legal in the state.