The Minnesota Combative Sports Commission suspended Duluth boxing promoter Chuck Horton for six months and handed down a $5,000 fine for a series of “exhibition” fights he promoted on June 17 at Grandma’s Sports Garden during its bimonthly meeting on Monday night in Blaine.
The event, which was originally to be sanctioned by the commission, was held without approval after Horton was unable to find an opponent the commission would approve of for Fergus Falls native Andy “Kaos” Kolle.
When the commission refused to sanction a fight between Kolle and an unnamed opponent who had lost 12 of his last 13 fights, Horton canceled the original event and decided to hold “exhibition” fights instead, signing an exhibition between Kolle and St Paul native Matt Vanda in which the boxers wore larger gloves and where the fighters agreed the outcome would not count on their records.
Chairman R.D. Brown expressed his concern the event should have been sanctioned, since Minnesota statute 341.35 states “any person or persons who ... engage in any public combative sport match or contest, with or without gloves, for any prize, reward, or compensation, or for which any admission fee is charged directly or indirectly ... is guilty of a misdemeanor unless the licenses required for the holding of the fight, exhibition, or contest have been issued by the commission in compliance with the rules adopted by it.”
Admission to the event was collected and the fighters involved were paid, according to reports from the event.
Commissioner Bob Dolan stated “it is a clear violation of the law and of the statute,” while Commissioner Pat Fallon told the assembled audience he felt Horton “willfully ignored the advice of the commission” not to hold the event.
Some of the community members in attendance said they felt it was not fair to punish the fighters for participating in the event, since they might not know the event was not being sanction, but the commission stated ignorance of the law is not a defense and since these were professional fighters, they should have known better than to participate.
After a lengthy discussion about exactly what would be an appropriate punishment, the commission voted to suspend the promoters license of Horton for 6 months and levy a $5,000 fine. Veteran referee Bobby Brunette was suspended for six months for his participation in the event, and was given a $300 fine, which was stayed for two years unless he violated the commissions authority again.
All of the fighters who fought on the card were given 90-day suspensions and $500 fines, both of which were stayed for two years, and their respective cornerman were given $1000 fines and six month suspension, both of which were also stayed.
These suspensions were the first ones handed down by the commission for participating in an unsanctioned event since its reinstatement in 2006.
In other news, local boxing manager Rick Anderson came before the committee to talk about a letter he had written recently outlining problems he had seen with officiating at local events and asking the commission review the video of the fights and overturn the result.
Chairman Brown told Anderson the commission is happy to review fights for the purpose of evaluating officials, but they will not be overturning results based on video tapes.
Brown expressed his opinion Anderson should have come at things differently in his letter and he felt the letter was threatening the commission with the line, “I am giving you until March 24th 2010 to respond. Or we will take further action.”
Brown stated he felt the threat of legal action was unnecessary.
Then Anderson asked if the commission would like to review the tape. "Quite frankly, no," responded Brown.
“I don’t think this commission can look at tapes and overrule referees and judges,” said Dolan.
Local boxing promoter Tony Grygelko said he agreed with Anderson that the boxing officials needed more training and they needed some new people to be involved.
Brown stated the commission hopes to have a boxing training like the MMA training back in March sometime before the end of the year.
Commissioner Craig Gallop said he didn’t believe it was Anderson’s intent to be threatening and he was “just looking for his day in court.”
Fallon told Anderson he felt the commission “owed him an apology for the difficulty he had in getting an audience.” Brown told Anderson he was sorry for getting upset with him over the tone of the letter and apologized.
The commission also approved the adoption of the Association of Boxing Commission's fighter's bill of rights by unanimous vote. A copy of the bill of rights can be found here.
In regards the vacant executive director position, Fallon said the commission had been sent three applicants to interview for the position, Commissioner R.D Brown, officer administrator Matt Schowalter and a third person who dropped out of consideration before he could be interviewed. Fallon said both Brown and Schowalter gave excellent interviews and they were both qualified for the position, but in the end, the interview panel made up of Fallon, Gallop and Dolan felt Brown was the better candidate because “as an executive we thought R.D. was in a better position.”
Gallop added it wasn’t an easy decision.
The commission voted 5-0 to accept the panel’s recommendation and pass it along to the Governor, with Brown absent from the voting, Stein absent from the meeting, and Commissioners Brintnall and Gravenish abstaining, Brintnall stating he felt he was to close to the candidates to make a choice and Gravenish withholding since her husband had applied for the position.
In an update from the last meeting, the commission said that boxing promoter Ron Peterson has still not paid two fighters from the December boxing event at the Target Center. The commission has sent him a letter stating he has until July 1 to pay the fighters or the matter will be turned over to the Minnesota Attorney General’s office for further legal action.
Finally, the commission approved two measures in regards to the licensing of boxers and MMA fighters. First, licenses will now be issues for the calendar year instead of one year from the date of application to make it easier to keep track of when licenses have expired. Any license applied for after October 1 will be good for the following year as well.
Second, in an effort reduce the number of same-day registrations of fighters and cornerman at events and weigh-ins, the commission will now charge a $100 fee on top of the current licensing fee ($25) for anyone being licensed at the weigh-in or at an event. Brown stated that they had to many fighters waiting until the last minute to get their paperwork done, adding to the burden of the commissioners at the events. Brown said their goal was not to be punitive, but to encourage people to get their licensing done in a timely matter.
All commissioners were in attendance at the meeting except for Commissioner Stein. A date was not set for the next meeting, which should take place sometime in August.