Alberta municipal leaders back calls for provincial combative sports commission

Alberta municipal leaders back calls for provincial combative sports commission

Municipal leaders from across Alberta have voted in favour of urging the province to set up a commission to regulate combative sports such as mixed martial arts and boxing.

The vote happened at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) convention, which wrapped up in Calgary on Friday.

"Alberta is the only remaining province in our country without consistent provincial standards for combative sporting events," said Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer, who put forward the resolution in a packed convention hall.

The idea was prompted by the death of 34-year-old boxer Tim Hague during a fight in Edmonton in June.

Some people questioned why Hague — who had just three boxing matches under his belt and had suffered concussions as an MMA fighter — was allowed in the ring.

Veer argued that the province needs to catch up to other jurisdictions. Alberta is the only province in Canada to leave the regulation of combative sports matches to municipalities.

"It is time for a serious reconsideration on the government's current position," Veer said.

Veer`s motion calls for the creation of a provincial regulator that could assess and oversee safety standards — like accrediting referees, mandating paramedics at events, determining when fighters must stop fighting and how much training is required before a fight.

Not everyone voted in favour of Veer's motion. Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman asked delegates to oppose the resolution, saying municipalities are doing a good job without provincial involvement.

"Safety and protection of combatants is paramount," he said. "The fighter database is checked for medical suspensions, and physicians and emergency responders attend all events."

Despite Spearman's argument, the resolution passed with 67 per cent of delegates voting in favour.

The municipalities voted in favour of a similar motion in 2013. No changes were made by the then-Progressive Conservative provincial government, Veer said.

The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission has hired an independent firm to investigate Hague's death.

- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | Claresholm man accused of sexually assaulting 5 teenaged girls

- MORE ALBERTA NEWS | Calgary man who stabbed ex-girlfriend 75 times convicted of second-degree murder