October 17, 2005

Sweden to keep pro ban, sharpens fight sport rules

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Sweden's minister for sport said on
Monday the country planned to keep its decades-old ban on
professional boxing as it seeks to regulate more tightly all
forms of contact sport.

Sweden is one of the few countries, along with Cuba and
Norway, to ban pro-boxing on health grounds. A new law is being
proposed by the Justice Ministry which introduces a system of
permits for sports which involve hitting someone's head.

"We have had a ban on professional boxing for 30 years and
we will retain it," said Sports Minister Bosse Ringholm.

"This is rather a question of an expanded ban which will
include other contact sports where the participant risks his
health," he added in a statement about the proposed new law.

The bill would involve contact sports having to meet health
rules on protective equipment, having clear rules and for a
"knock out" to mean the sportsman not be allowed to continue
the fight or take part in other competitions for a certain

Ringholm said well-organized contact sports which had tight
safety rules could continue. Anyone found arranging a fight
without permission could get six months in prison, with fines
for participants, the draft law said.

Written before many martial arts gained popularity in the
West, Sweden's anti-boxing law did not stop other events such
as K1 fighting galas, where kung-fu masters fight sumo

Ringholm was quoted by local news agency TT as saying the
new law would in practice stop K1 events and mean that
professional boxing would still not be allowed. However, the
law does not provide a list of which sports would get a permit.

The head of the Swedish Boxing Federation was hopeful that
pro-boxing fights could be arranged.

"Before, it was completely excluded, but now it is a
question of applying the law and of how the sport can adapt
itself," Federation head Bettan Andersson was quoted as saying
by TT.