Why Pro Kickboxing / Muay Thai are Illegal in BC and What Can Be Done About It

Whether professional kickboxing and Muay Thai events can legally be sanctioned in Canada is debatable due to the present wording of Section 83 of the Criminal Code.

As previously discussed, British Columbia has taken a very restrictive interpretation of section 83 and deem these sports illegal in the Province.   I reached out to BC’s Athletic Commissioner to elaborate on BC’s position.  Dave Maedel responds as follows:

“Thank you for your email regarding professional kickboxing in BC. As you know, the federal government voted in June 2013 to pass Bill S-209 exempting mixed martial arts from the Criminal Code. This change to the Criminal Code, however, does not specifically identify professional kickboxing. According to the Criminal Code, the two professional combat sports that the Province is authorized to regulate are boxing and mixed martial arts. Until that changes, those are the only professional combat sports the Province will regulate. Because the Criminal Code falls under federal jurisdiction, members of the kickboxing community who have concerns may wish to contact their local MPs.”

It is unrealistic that section 83 will be further amended any time soon no matter how much pressure is put on local MP’s.  A more realistic alternative would be for an affected party to ask the BC Supreme Court to judicially review the Government’s refusal to licence a professional Kickboxing  / Muay Thai event.  It may be that a Court agrees with the Government’s interpretation, however there is also a possibility that a Court will find that if the Criminal Code allows Provinces to regulate MMA, they can also regulate all of the component sports that make up MMA.    Whatever the outcome judicial interpretation would bring welcome clarity to this situation.

A party with standing (ie – a person directly affected by the Government’s refusal to issue a pro kickboxing licence on the above grounds) can bring a petition to the BC Supreme Court to review the Government’s interpretation of the law.  Specifically, under section 2 of BC’s Judicial Review Procedure Act the Court can provide a declaration with respect to the Government’s interpretation of the statutory power vested in them by section 83 of the Criminal Code.  If a Court agrees that section 83 allows Provinces to regulate all of the professional martial arts that make up the component parts of MMA then that will pass the issue back to the Province to reconsider whether they wish to legalize professional kickboxing and Muay Thai in BC.

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