BC Fight Scene

British Columbia looking to create provincial athletic commission


Courtesy of Dave Teixeira of Dave.ca

Today the British Columbia Government is introducing Legislation (Bill 50) to form an Athletic Commission to regulate combat sports Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Boxing, Kickboxing, etc. – in the Province.

After years of working with various stakeholders including Athletic Commissions, all levels of Governments, media, fans, combat sports companies, etc this is a welcomed move.

In October 2010 I said in a 24 Hours interview: “I think it’s [the formation of a Provincial Athletic Commission] going to happen within two years. Promoters want to be professional, and to do it they have to pay the taxes, fees and have protection from the government.”

This Legislation replaces local commissions with a single Provincial body; ensures participant safety is paramount; codifies and unifies the rules of the sports; and has consistency with fees, taxes, etc.

A Provincial Athletic Commission under the Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development will allow large scale MMA organizations like Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to work with a professionally run Commission who are not held to the moral whims of unelected staffers (*cough* City of Vancouver *cough*).


Athletic Commissioner Act introduced in the House

VICTORIA – The Province is taking steps to establish a Provincial Athletic Commissioner, who would regulate and supervise professional contests such as boxing, kick-boxing and mixed martial arts.

Community, Sport and Cultural Development Minister Ida Chong introduced Bill 50 – Athletic Commissioner Act – in the legislature today

The proposed act would establish a consistent framework to oversee the conduct of these professional events throughout the province. This legislation would not apply to amateur contests.

The commissioner’s primary focus would be to ensure the safety of competitors and officials.

If local governments do not want such contests to take place in their communities, they would be able to prohibit these events by passing a bylaw.


Ida Chong, Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development –

“The benefit of having a provincial athletic commissioner would be that every professional contest would be subject to the same rules and regulations, whether it was being held in Vancouver, Nanaimo or Vernon.”

“Since sports such as kick-boxing and mixed martial arts are very popular and are taking place without a consistent regulatory framework, it makes sense to be proactive about creating this position to increase the safety of athletes and officials, as well as to provide certainty for communities and the industry.”

Quick Facts:

  • The role of the commissioner would be to oversee the conduct of professional contests such as boxing, kick-boxing and mixed martial arts throughout the province, with a key focus on the safety of competitors and officials.
  • The key duties of the commissioner would be to:
    • Ensure a consistent standard of qualifications and safety protocols for all participants and officials through a uniform licensing and permitting framework.
    • Ensure compliance with the proposed act and its regulations, through the use of suspension or cancellation of licences and event permits, as well as administrative penalties.
  • The Community Charter and the Vancouver Charter now provide for the establishment of local athletic commissions to authorize public events. Such athletic commissions may regulate professional boxing and similar activities, contests and exhibitions.
  • At least nine B.C. municipalities currently have athletic commissions. If the Province establishes an athletic commissioner, both the Community Charter and Vancouver Charter will be amended to remove the authority to create local commissions.
Contact: Jeff Rud Communications DirectorMinistry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development250 208-4028

Keep it locked on MMASucka.com as more news comes out about this proposed bill.

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also writes an MMA Column for 24 Hours Vancouver and contributes to VanCityBuzz.com.

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  • Mirko Mladenovic says:

    At first appearances this looks like it could be a good thing. But Athletic Commissioner act? This essentially creates an entire department centered on one person, a combat sports Czar. What happens if they place someone in that position who is a Bureaucrat like Dave Rudberg? This person might be less inclined to sanction events Province wide. Places like Prince George that sanction many combat sports events might find themselves without any. And what about places that already exclude Professional bouts like North Vancouver or Burnaby? Will they take a stand against events being sanctioned in their cities? And having a Provincial Commissioner will not necessarily mean that cities like Vancouver will not still impose sanctions of their own against these events. As a combat sports fan I am inclined to roll the dice on a Provincial Commissioner, but there is a chance that things will get much worse before they get any better.

  • Carlin Bardsley says:

    While I respect your opinion Mirko and am always glad to hear it, I can’t see a Provincial Commission being worse than what BC has now, a mish-mash of municipalities with no uniform set of guidleines. The provincial commission model has meant nothing but the advancement of the sport in every other part of the country, I see no reason why it wouldn’t be the same in BC.

    As far as municipalities taking individual stands against the sport, I’ll cop to not knowing the legal specifics of what they can and cannot approve once the province has set regulations. But as you and I both know, Vancouver City Council’s main problem with hosting events was the question of liability. If that is resolved at the provincial level, it takes their biggest argument against the sport away and allows them to focus on the millions of dollars in revenue they can collect.

    • Mirko Mladenovic says:

      The liability issue was a complete fabrication. The city said that a municipality couldn’t protect itself the way a Province could. But the week after UFC 115 that myth was shattered when Edmonton had WEC 49 with standard levels of insurance. To this they argued that “Vancouver is not Edmonton”, whatever that means. The two year “trial period” was in fact a two year “mitigation period”. They can and will come up with any excuse possible to prevent large scale combat sports from taking place. And even if there is a Provincial commission don’t be surprised if the insurance issue comes up again. Remember, a city like Seattle has the double tax, meaning that they demand an additional amount on top of what the state licensing department asks for. That’s double dipping, but they do it anyway. So the question is, what individual do you want to see running combat sports in this Province? The president of the BCMA maybe?

  • Carlin Bardsley says:

    The more decision-making power is shifted away from the dithering Van City Council, the better. As for who to run the sport at a provincial level, I think MMABC’s Bill Mahood would be a good choice.

  • Mirko Mladenovic says:

    I think that the Commissioner would work out of the Gambling Policy and Enforcement branch office, so you would need to live in Victoria. I’m not sure that Bill would want to move his family there. It would take him away from his gym and his work with the amateurs. In addition to that he would stand to lose a lot of money as a professional promoter if regulation opened up. But unfortunately I think this will be a political position. It is likely that this would be a cabinet position, or someone would be appointed from the Solicitor General’s office. Other candidates could include Dave Rudberg, Wally Oppal, John Furlong or some other VANOC person. At least the latter two are fight fans. George Angelomatis would have the skill and political backing to fill this position, but his health has taken a turn for the worse. For me the number one candidate would be Paul Lazenby. This is due to Paul’s unique knowledge of various combat sports including Professional Wrestling, in addition to his work in the media. Other people I would like to see include Eric Hinter, Scotty Jackson, and Gordy Racette. Any other candidates?

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