January 21, 2009

Martial arts group takes aim at N.Y. law

The Ultimate Fighting Championship, the world's biggest mixed martial arts association, hopes to overturn a New York law banning such competitions.

Marc Ratner, the Las Vegas-based association's director of government and regulatory affairs, said that 37 of the 45 states with athletic commissions allow mixed martial arts, The New York Times reported. He argues that the sport has become gentler since Gov. George Pataki, describing it as barbaric, endorsed a ban in 1997, with most states adopting regulations that include weight classes and fouls.

About 800 mixed martial arts bouts have been held in Nevada since 2001 with the most serious injury one broken arm, Ratner said.

One of those hoping for a change in the New York law is Lou Neglia, a former world kickboxing champion who operates a martial arts academy in the borough of Brooklyn.

It's the fastest-growing sport in the country, he told the Times. Boxing is dead.