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May 7, 2016

U.S.A. Boxing goes toe to toe with the Massachusetts Athletic Commission

Chairwoman LaTeisha Adams
Commissioner Guy Licciardi
Commissioner Joseph Krowski Jr.
Commissioner Gary Litchfield

In April of 2016 the MSAC and the President of U.S.A. Boxing along with certain members of his administration began a discussion to draw up a variance to 523 CMR 19 which details the exact criteria that must be met in order to obtain a license to compete in unarmed combat in the Commonweatlh.  Chairwoman Adams and Commissioners Joseph Krowski Jr. and Gary Litchfield had a fifteen minute discussion about the variance.  The U.S.A. Boxing organization has been concerned since January that any additional financial burdens placed on youth competitors would have a negative impact on the organization's ability to operate and provide events in the Commonwealth.  They are perhaps the only unarmed combat organization in operation currently that has more than fifty percent of it's combatants under the age of 18.
The item needed an affirmative vote from the commission in order to maintain the variance that had been temporarily granted in the February MSAC meeting.  I've included all meeting minutes available relating to this issue.  I've also provided you with a copy of 523 CMR 19.  Please take a few minutes after listening to the discussion and familiarize yourself with these articles.  I believe the outcome of this variance will impact all amateur unarmed combat licensees in the state.

Some items to note now that you've taken all this in.  1) The state's attorney points out in her review of 523 CMR sections 5-19 are what is actually the law.  Birth certificates are not a requirement despite the fact that they are listed in the required documents section of the application for unarmed combat licenses.  2) She states that bloodwork is good for a year even though elsewhere it is stated that bloodwork must be retested every six months.  3) It is clearly stated that no licenses shall be granted to anyone under the age of 18.  There is no language that I can find where it states that amateur boxers can be under 18.  4) The chairwoman seems to be under the impression that the meeting in February with the USA Boxing officials concluded with the variance being decided to benefit only minors engaged in boxing competitions and was not extended to all amateurs regardless of age or financial ability.  The minutes reflect that no variance was granted or voted on because the commissioners felt the language needed to be decided first.  Then in April the variance was granted on a temporary basis and did in fact include rather than exclude amateurs over the age of 18.  Items 3 and 4 make the issue confusing to say the least.  If no license shall be granted to persons under 18 than somehow the commission has overlooked this for many years.  If the chairwoman isn't able to look back at the minutes of previous meetings that only occurred in the present year or go back and listen to the recordings she makes of each meeting than she needs to in order to be fully prepared for her duties.  Having been the chair of a board of directors I can say there is a lot that goes into these meetings.  It's work for sure.  
Now to look at how I think this may eventually come to effect the larger population of unarmed combatants.  1) If there are minors being licensed to box than there can certainly be minors licensed to kickbox and participate in mixed martial arts matches as amateurs.  If all amateur boxers regardless of age are given exemption from the bloodwork requirement than so should the kickboxers and mixed martial artists.  The argument from Commissioner Joseph Krowski Jr. about people bleeding onto each other is in my opinion nonsense.  Blood is blood whether it drips from my nose onto your cheek or I touch my boxing glove to my wound and then touch your body with that glove it still transmission of a bodily fluid.  I've attended thousands of matches over the years and seen some bloody scenes for sure, but to say that one sport is less safe than another when both sports are based on combat is laughable.  People get hurt when they fight, period.  Don't make me pay for a test you won't make the other guys pay for.  I know I'll be asking for clarification on the length of time that bloodwork is valid.  I don't like when a lawyer says one thing and the administration in the office we submit documents to says something different.  Keep your eyes peeled for the result of that question next month.
There were a few other noteworthy items from Thursdays meeting and I will get them out to you all shortly.  Enjoy and feel free to leave your feedback, questions, or comments.

Joe Leonard