Lawmakers, Clergy Oppose Mixed Martial Arts on Moral Grounds

4:02 PM, Apr 30, 2013   |    comments
Mixed Martial Arts
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By Haley Viccaro, Albany Bureau

ALBANY Clergy, faith leaders and Democratic Assembly members Tuesday called on lawmakers to uphold the state ban against mixed-martial arts.

Mixed-martial arts supporters are pushing the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to legalize the sport after it has failed repeatedly to get approved in the Democratic-led Assembly.

Supporters have said it would be an economic boom for the state, and most states allow it.

Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, D-Queens, said she opposes mixed-martial arts and believes individuals' health should be considered over the money the sport generates in the state.

"I think the injuries are horrific. I think it looks like a cartoon on TV," Nolan said. "This is not a cartoon; it is not a moment of glory. It is the destruction of another human being's dignity."

Nolan said mixed-martial arts would provide money to the state's struggling economy but stressed that the funds would not go toward the fighters participating in the sport. She said if the bill comes to the floor, she would vote no.

Individuals against mixed-martial arts delivered a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and other Assembly members on Tuesday calling for them to reject the proposal of holding the events in the state.

"Mixed-martial arts is a great marketing tool, but it is actually called ultimate fighting," Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Manhattan, said. "The pitch is, 'Well this is happening everywhere else so we should cash in on it.' I reject that notion."

The proposed bill that would lift the ban on mixed-martial arts is sponsored by 64 Assembly members, including Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County. Last week on an Albany public-radio show, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he believes mixed-martial arts could have a potential economic benefit for the state. New York banned the sport in 1997.

"I think we need jobs. I think we need jobs," Cuomo said on "The Capitol Pressroom." "I think we need economic activity, especially in upstate New York."

Father John Duffell of the Church of Blessed Sacrament in Manhattan said mixed-martial arts is wrong and immoral.

"If this particular piece of legislation passes it would not in any way help us walk the earth as brothers and sisters because it is all about violence and it is all about hatred," Duffell said.

In a letter to Silver last week, the Ultimate Fighting Championship said it "work together to ensure that New York and the United States is tolerant, fully respective of women, and protects the rights of all persons, regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, and religious choice."


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