Duluth boxing promoter Chuck Horton is ready to fight.
On Monday night, Horton received a six-month suspension and fine by the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission, one he feels was unjust.
“I am prepared for war,” Horton said in an interview Tuesday night. “Somebody has to stand up to them. They have been operating outside the law for so long. They are power hungry.”
Horton’s promoters license was suspended for six months and he was fined $5,000 for promoting “exhibition” fights which the commission had previously ruled to be under its jurisdiction.
“They’re not getting a nickel from me," Horton said. "I will go all the way to the Supreme Court before I pay five cents.”
“They knew a week ahead of time,” Horton said about the event. He says that the commission never informed him the event should be sanctioned. “Not one word, ” he added.
The dispute stems from an event last Thursday at Grandma’s Sports Garden in Duluth. Horton had originally scheduled a professional boxing event to be licensed by the commission, but after they wouldn’t approve of his main event, he canceled the event and told the commission he would be holding a “public workout” instead.
It was never made clear at the meeting if the commission understood that to mean he would be holding exhibition fights or if it thought the boxers would be doing a physical workout.
“What else would it be,” Horton asked?
At Monday's meeting, Chairman R.D. Brown cited Minnesota statute 341.35, which states any persons taking part in an event in which exhibition fights take place without sanctioning are guilty of a misdemeanor and said that ignorance of the law is not a defense.
“It is a clear violation of the law and of the statute,” said commissioner Bob Dolan at the meeting.
Horton also said that he has yet to be informed by any commissioners about the suspension.
“I have not been notified officially at all. I have contacted all of [the commissioners] and none of them have replied,” said Horton.
He said he first heard about the suspension in a text message on Monday night and had to call to confirm it with office administrator Matt Schowalter on Tuesday.
“This is so un-American it is unbelievable,” Horton said. “They have a problem with me that's fine. Let's go to court, or let's meet and talk. Or at least call me back after you’ve wrongly accused me of something.”
According to Horton, he spoke with Brown on Sunday night before the meeting, but was given no indication he had done anything wrong.
“If I had known there was going to be a trial, I would have been there myself and I would have brought my lawyer as well,” said Horton.
“They wrongly accused me and they hurt me by denying my due process,” Horton said. “I have a right to a trial. This is America.”
“My whole community is behind me, the venue owners, the public, the businessmen who come here and make a profit off of what I do, the kids who come to the gym and work out for free. I’m fighting for me, my family and these kids who have no one else that will fight for them,” Horton said.
As far as the fighters on the card being paid, Horton said: “Of course they have to be compensated. Believe me, the minimum amount I paid them they are worth a lot more.”
“This is a fund raiser for our amateur fighting. They can be paid for their appearance. We had dancers and singers. We had to pay all of them.”
When contacted by phone on Wednesday afternoon, Chairman Brown said he would not be able to comment at this time due to the possibility of legal action and that the commission stands behind its decision.
In an interview with the Duluth News Tribune, Horton said he would not rule out moving his events across the lake to Superior, Wis., but according to Kim Prine of the Wisconsin Department of Regulations and Licensing, Horton would have to be a resident of Wisconsin for one year before he could obtain a promoters license.