OPINION: Commission needed to oversee unregulated fightsA 2009 state law that would have created a commission to regulate professional boxing and mixed martial arts events expired July 1 without action — five weeks after a Sturgis man died after a mixed martial arts fight.
By: Editorial board, Rapid City Journal
A 2009 state law that would have created a commission to regulate professional boxing and mixed martial arts events expired July 1 without action — five weeks after a Sturgis man died after a mixed martial arts fight.
State Rep. Dean Schrempp, D-Lantry, sponsored the 2009 bill and recently said Dustin Jenson, the 26-year-old Sturgis man who died May 24 after a fight the week before at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, would still be alive if the commission had been formed by Govs. Mike Rounds or Dennis Daugaard.
Daugaard disagrees and said a state commission would lead to more fights and more injuries and deaths.
Professional boxing and mixed martial arts are unregulated sports in South Dakota. Schrempp said a commission would allow professional boxing events in the state and protect the participants of boxing and mixed martial arts events.
Schrempp said Jenson had fought four fights in less than four months and had been knocked out three months before his last fight. A commission would have restricted his participation in events based on his fight history, he said.
“He couldn’t have fought,” Schrempp said. “There are a lot of rules that have to be followed. I don’t like rules either, but if you’re going to save people’s lives, you better have them.”
Daugaard said a commission would only lead to more fights, and he doesn’t want the state to legitimize or encourage mixed martial arts events.
It’s unfair to Jenson’s family to speculate that he would still be alive if a commission had existed to regulate mixed martial arts events. However, the purpose of having a commission is to introduce safety concerns to such events and prevent fighters from entering the ring if they have a questionable fight history.
We disagree with Gov. Daugaard. The question is not whether a state commission regulating professional boxing and mixed martial arts competitions would lead to more events, but ensuring the safe conduct of the events and protecting the fighters when the events are held. And let’s be clear about this: the fights will continue to be put on in South Dakota, whether there’s a commission or not.
We encourage Rep. Schrempp to reintroduce his bill to authorize a boxing and mixed martial arts commission in South Dakota.