The Mississippi Athletic Commission is advertising a Bare Knuckle Boxing card they will oversee on August 25, 2018 in Biloxi. This will be the second State to oversee a regulated Bare Knuckle Boxing card following Wyoming’s lead.
Earlier this year Wyoming became a trailblazing jurisdiction allowing a BKB card. The State oversaw the event through the Wyoming State Board of Mixed Martial Arts on the theory that bare knuckle boxing is not in fact professional boxing but its own sport which could be legalized under the umbrella of Mixed Martial Arts.
Mississippi is the second to enter the fray. So what is the legal framework for this event?
The Mississippi Athletic Commission was created by Title 75, Chapter 75, Section 103 of the Mississippi Code. Section 105 of this Chapter spells out the powers of the commission and reads as follows:
The commission shall have a seal and shall have and is hereby vested with the sole direction, management, control and jurisdiction over all boxing, sparring and wrestling matches or exhibitions to be conducted, held or given within the State of Mississippi. The commission has full power and authority and it shall be its duty: (a) to make and publish rules and regulations governing the conduct of boxing, sparring and wrestling matches and exhibitions, the time and place thereof, and the prices charged for admission thereto; (b) to accept application for and, in its discretion, order a license or permit issued to promoters and participants of these events, and to revoke the license or permit; (c) to collect through the recorder of permits and licenses a fee of six percent (6%) of the gross receipts of every boxing, sparring or wrestling match or exhibition, and a reasonable fee not to exceed One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) for each annual license or permit issued to a boxer, wrestler, referee, judge, matchmaker, promoter, manager, trainer, second, director, or timekeeper; and (d) to revoke any license or permit when, in its judgment, the public welfare requires it. The commission is prohibited from issuing regulations which may be construed as granting a franchised or exclusive territory, and from the issuing of any type of monopolistic license or permit.
The Commission’s powers are limited to overseeing “boxing, sparring and wrestling“. Despite this limited set of sports the Commission is given the power to create their own rules for these sports and presumably they are exercising this power liberally to include BKB as a subset of Boxing.
The Rules published by the Commission specifically reference the Association of Boxing Commission’s ruleset for boxing (which do not allow BKB) reading as follows:
The Mississippi Athletic Commission shall use the current Regulatory Guidelines and
Unified Championship Rules of the Association of Boxing Commissioners as their
professional boxing contest rules. The Association of Boxing Commission World Title
Fight Manual shall also be used in conjunction with regional and world title fights.
The Rules include the power of the Commission to over-ride their own rules with the following provision:
A. The Commission, upon its choosing, may waive any requirements set forth in these rules.
B. Any rules adapted by the Commission shall supersede any rules of any sanctioning body
rules adapted or approved by the Commission.
C. Any request for waiver of requirement shall be submitted by email from the promoter on
a form provided by the Commission.
Lastly, the Rules create something called “special bouts” which mean “any type of contest that does not conform to the rules adopted by the
Mississippi Athletic Commission that is approved by the Commission for a particular
event.”. The above clauses are presumably being used to carve out a specific BKB ruleset for this event.
I have written to the Mississippi Athletic Commission for a full copy of the ruleset they have in force for this upcoming event along with an explanation of their legal authority to oversee such an event. I will publish their reply and ruleset here once I have their response.