May 3, 2011
AUGUSTA – Maine State Rep. Matt Peterson, D-Rumford, has introduced legislation, LD 889, to bring professional boxing and prizefighting back to Maine.
“Combat sports have a large fan base and following in Maine, and provide an opportunity to attract new investments in the state by expanding these sports,” said Peterson. “Maine has a long history with boxing including hosting one of Muhammad Ali’s most famous prize fights. This legislation is designed to provide opportunities for Maine fans of combat sports, as well as the people who compete in these contests to have events in our state.”
Maine has had to rebuild its ability to oversee and regulate gladiatorial sports after the Maine Athletic Commission, that had formerly regulated prizefighting and boxing, was disbanded. The Athletic Commission was disbanded when interest in prizefighting had waned in Maine and there were no requests for scheduling bouts over several years. This bill will allow boxing and prizefighting to resume in Maine by placing these events under the supervision of a newly renamed Combat Sports Authority.
With interest in mixed martial arts growing nationally and within the state, Peterson sponsored a bill in the last legislative session to create a new regulatory mechanism for this sport, the Mixed Martial Arts Authority of Maine. The first MMA event held on April 30 was sold out, standing room only, and the next event is scheduled for May 6 at the Portland Expo.
As a result of the growth of MMA, interest in more traditional gladiatorial sports, such as boxing, has been revived. One well known promoter in central Maine attempted to put on a boxing match only to learn that it was not possible. Peterson was contacted by people in the boxing community with a request to restore the regulatory framework to enable sanctioned prizefighting to resume in Maine.
Since the state is facing serious financial constraints and consolidation and efficiency are guiding principles in shaping new initiatives, it is unlikely that the state would create a new standalone entity to regulate prizefighting. Therefore, the logical approach was to expand the scope of the present Mixed Martial Arts Authority to oversee these contests as well.
“In these economic times, we have to do all we can to encourage business and expanded tourism to our state,” said Peterson. “Supporting combat sports including boxing embraces our state’s sports history and provides future opportunities for athletes, trainers, promoters and other business people to have quality events in Maine communities.”
A Public Hearing for the bill has been scheduled for May 5 at 1 pm in the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee room in the Burton Cross Building in Augusta, Maine.
Jodi Quintero [Peterson], 287-1488, c. 841-6279