The gloves are off in the fight over the legalization of mixed-martial arts in New York as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said last week that a bill supporting the sport will not come to the floor for a vote in 2012.
The bill passed the Senate in April, but is in limbo in Albany after a private discussion between Assembly members failed to bring new life to the previous accusation that the sport is too violent and reckless.
Support for MMA has been voiced by members of the Assembly. They believe that legalizing the sport can bring the state financial benefits and jobs.
Alex Schnell, the spokesman for Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi (D-Forest Hills) said Hevesi believes it is only a matter of time until the benefits of MMA are recognized by New York.
“Legalizing MMA events in New York State would bring in an estimated $23 million in annual revenue and provide jobs for struggling New Yorkers,” he said.
The legislator discussed how the sport has been described as undisciplined, vicious street fighters battling each other without weight classes, regulation or regard for the safety of the fighters. Today’s MMA has been changed into a highly regulated sport, with appropriate weight classes and rules, professional referees and medical personnel mandated to protect the fighters.
Brianna Gallowe, the program director at Omni Martial Arts in Astoria agrees with Hevesi and says that MMA has a hidden beauty that not only nourishes discipline, but goes back to the ancient art of the samurai.
She said legalization would also promote the entertainment industry in the state.
“Amateur fighters have to travel to New Jersey right now to find sponsors, which involves taking a lot of traveling expenses out of state,” Gallowe said. “If they could stay here schools would pop up, and tickets for shows could bring in taxes and that way the government would get a piece of it.”
New York is one of only two states, including Connecticut, that have not legalized MMA.