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Committee OKs giving commission authority over bare-knuckle boxing

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The Senate Health Committee gave a favorable report to a bill giving the Alabama Athletic Commission jurisdiction over bare-knuckle boxing in the state of Alabama on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 396 is sponsored by State Sen. Gerald Allen, R-Tuscaloosa.

Under current law, the Alabama Athletic Commission, the state boxing commission, does not have jurisdiction over bare-knuckle boxing. This bill would give the Alabama Athletic Commission the authority to regulate any potential bare-knuckle boxing contests in the state.

Senate Health Committee Chairman Jim McClendon, R-Springville, asked why bare-knuckle boxing is necessary.

“You have less concussions with bare-knuckle boxing than using gloves, but you do have more blood,” Allen said.

“It is a growing sport nationally and internationally,” Allen added.

“Deonte Wilder (the WBC world heavyweight boxing champion from Alabama) had an event that did not happen because his opponent tested positive for a drug that is banned,” Allen said.

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This bill would allow the commission to require and regulate drug testing of bare-knuckle fighters.

“The bill does define bare-knuckle boxing,” Allen said.

Allen asked Joel Blankenship to address the committee.

“I am one of the commissioners,” Blankenship said. “We regulate boxing and mixed martial arts as well as professional wrestling.”

Blankenship said there have been recent bare-knuckle boxing events in Wyoming, Mississippi and other places. They sold out the Coliseum in Biloxi.

“We do not currently have the authority to regulate bare-knuckle boxing,” Blankenship said.

Blankenship said there is a possibility that promoters could ask the Attorney General to issue an opinion so they “could authorize an event without our purview.

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Blankenship said that promoters are fighting to have an unregulated event. He said they would not have to have doctors.

State Sen. Tom Butler, R-Madison, made a motion to give the bill a favorable report.

The committee voted to SB396 a favorable report.

The bill can now be considered by the full state Senate.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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