Josh Neer Violent Gym Fight and Some Lessons For “Smokers”

Former UFC Fighter Josh Neer is making news after video surfaced of him violently finishing a gym fight against an opponent who apparently had been heckling Neer on social media and accepted an invitation to fight.

The video was quickly taken down, but copies of course survived.  Here is the clip –

Shorty after Iowa Athletic Commission Executive Director Joe Walsh told TMZ Sports that “We are aware of the situation. I have our legal team taking a thorough look at our rules. We’re checking to see if we have anything on the books that covers this.”

Although a quick look at Iowa Code Chapter 90A appears to show that the Commission has no ability to lay sanctions following this gym beatdown, not all jurisdictions are equally powerless.  (Update February 27, 2015the Iowa Commission has now closed their investigation concluding they indeed are powerless over this situation)

For Canadian gym owners,for example, the not so secret tradition of ‘green lighting’ and ‘smokers‘ can come with legal consequences.

Under Canadian law, section 83 of the Criminal Code prohibits ‘prize fights’. The name is misleading because no ‘prize’ needs to be on the line for the prohibition to be triggered.  All that matters is that the fight is “an encounter or fight with fists, hands or feet between two persons who have met for that purpose by previous arrangement made by or for them“.  From there, unless the bout fits one of the exceptions (being a sport on the Olympic Programme or a sport regulated by a Provincially designated athletic commission) the bout remains illegal.  Here, this being an MMA fight agreed to before hand, it would clearly be captured by the broad language of Canada’s Criminal Code.

There is no ‘gym fight‘ exception to the Criminal Code prohibition.  Gym owners should be weary in allowing unsanctioned fights occur on their premises as, depending on the jurisdiction, doing so can expose the participants to criminal prosecution.

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