Archive for the ‘Calgary Combative Sports Commission’ Category

As Cities across Alberta lobby the Province to drop the local commission model in favour of a Province wide model, the Calgary Combative Sports Commission is reporting an “overwhelming workload” and seeking overhaul.

Earlier this week the CCSC presented a report to the City’s Priorities and Finance Committee stating that they have challenges in meeting their obligations “responsibly, effectively and efficiently“.  They cite problems with their current governance and are looking for feedback for reform.

The Commission s currently flush with cash thanks to the high gate revenues pulled in by UFC 149.  They asked for the Finance Committee’s blessing to use up to $75,000 of these excess funds to “engage the services of an independent governance consultant to conduct a systemic review” of the Commission and to provide recommendations for overhaul.  The CCSC wishes to look at “the complete spectrum of options” including looking at the models used in other jurisdictions.

Given that Cities across Alberta have called for a Province wide commission and further that the CCSC, one of the Province’s highest profile commissions is currently overwhelmed and seeking overhaul, it appears the winds of change are afoot and a Province wide commission may be a reality for Alberta.


The AFC’s latest event is scheduled to take place on July 12 in Calgary.  Last month Top MMA News reported that the event was scheduled to host a handful of amateur fights on the card.

AFC 20 Reported Fight Card

AFC 20 Fight Card Revised with no amateur

As previously discussed, Calgary currently lacks a proper framework to host amateur MMA bouts.  I have it on good authority that the City is now disallowing amateur events to proceed on July 12 and further that amateur events will be put on hold in Calgary for the time being.  You can click the above images to compare the lineup as initially announced to the current line up to see the changes for yourself with two of the scheduled amateur fighters now being on the professional card and the remaining amateur bouts being scrapped.

The good news is that this is likely going to be a temporary gap.  The Calgary Bylaw is currently under revision and is expected to be overhauled in the early Fall to create a clear legislative framework for amateur MMA in the City.

I will follow up on this topic once the revised Bylaw is passed.


Update – July 12, 2013 – After this story was republished at MMASucka the folks there reached out to AFC Promoter Darren Owen who provided the following comments about this development:

“After getting confirmation from the Calgary Combative Sports Commission after the passing of Bill S-209 they are still legally allowed to sanction amateur mma. Then pulling the plug about a week ago stating that they couldn’t find officials to work the amateur portion of the event is very suspect. I’ve heard from other sources that in fact Calgary can not sanction amateur mma currently just like the rest of Canada. It put us and the fighters in a tough spot. Some chose to go pro others did not. We pulled it together and will move forward with a great night of fights for our fans. This business always keeps you on your toes and you must be able to adapt and overcome.”

Yes, once again here comes a lawyer to take all the fun out of things!  Today I will breakdown the legal authority (or lack thereof) of the Calgary Combative Sports Commission to regulate AMMA.

AFC 20 is scheduled to take place in Calgary in July and three amateur bouts are reportedly taking place.   Given the new Canadian legal landscape relating to amateur combat sports, is there a proper framework in place to regulate AMMA in Calgary?  The answer is likely no.  Here’s why –

The starting point is section 83 of the Criminal Code which makes MMA illegal unless a proper Provincial framework exists.

Section 83(2)(d) gives Provinces the ability to create commissions to regulate MMA and does not appear to be limited to professional MMA.  It specifically gives Provinces the ability to create “an athletic board, commission, or similar body” to regulate MMA so long as the body is “established by or under the authority of the province’s legislatute for the control of sport withing the province“.

In Alberta, no Province wide commission exists, with MMA instead being regulated on a municipal level.   There is nothing wrong with this so long as the municipal commissions derive their authority “by or under the authority of the province’s legislature”.   

Calgary purports to derive their authority from Alberta’s Municipal Government Act, which allows bylaws to be passed respecting “safety, heath and welfare of people” and also “business activities“.  Although the Municipal Government Act does not expressly give the City the power to regulate MMA, such a power is strongly implied  under section 535(1)which reads as follow

Protection of sporting commissions
535.1(1) In this section, “commission” means a commission
established by bylaw for controlling and regulating any of the
(a) boxing;
(b) wrestling;
(c) full contact karate;

(d) kickboxing; 

(e) any other sport that holds contests where opponents strike
each other with a hand, foot, knee, elbow or other part of
the body.

(2) A commission and its members, officers, employees and any
volunteers and officials performing duties under the direction of
any of them are not liable for anything said or done or omitted to
be done in good faith in the performance or intended performance
of their functions, duties or powers under this Act or any other
(3) Subsection (2) is not a defence if the cause of action is

MMA is clearly captured under subsection (e) so if this is an implied power Commissions can regulate MMA.  There is nothing limiting this implied power to only professional MMA.

So, assuming the Calgary commission properly derives their authority in compliance with section 83 of the Criminal Code, the next step is to look at the bylaw setting up the commission.  The bylaw in question is the Combative Sports Commission Bylaw.

This Bylaw creates a Commission and tasks them with authority to sanction and licence “combative sports events” .  This is where the legal authority wanes thin.  Events are defined as follows:

“combative sports event” or “event” includes any exhibition, card, contest
or promotion involving the presentation of combative sports but does not
include amateur events.

“combative sports” means a sport involving physical contact, the primary
purpose of which is the allotment of points, and includes boxing, kick
boxing, mixed martial arts and muay thai;

Since amateur events are specifically excluded from the definition of “events” the Commission does not appear to have the authority to regulate these.  This becomes particularly clear when you look at section 34(2) which holds in part that a licence shall not be required for amateur events featuring amateur contestants.

So, if the Commission does not have the authority/ability to licence an amateur event or contestant which amateur events are legal in Calgary?  Amateur Events and Amateur Contestants are defined as follows:

“amateur contestant” means anyone who participates in a combative
sport that is governed by one or more of the amateur bodies listed in
Schedule “F” and does not receive any money or other gain from such

(d.1) “amateur event” means a combative sports competition that features
amateur contestants and is governed by one or more of the amateur
bodies listed in Schedule “F”;

Schedule F goes on to list the following “governing bodies” who are given the ability to regulate amateur events:

F.1 Alberta Amateur Boxing Association and Boxing Alberta
F.2 CMTC – A, Canadian Muay Thai Council Amateur (Alberta)
F.3 World Kickboxing Association
F.4 International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur

To my knowledge none of these bodies regulate AMMA.

Where does this leave us?

1. The Commission does not appear to have the ability to regulate AMMA

2.  The permitted amateur events do not include AMMA.

Not Done Yet –

This takes us back to section 83 of the Criminal Code.  If a Provincially established commission does not have authority to regulate any given combat sport then one must look to the amateur exceptions in the Criminal Code.   Presently none of these seem to apply since MMA is not on the programme of the IOC, nor has Alberta passed the proper laws to legislate AMMA outside of the Criminal Code.  The Provincial legislature can easily fix this problem if they have the will to do so.

One last kick at the can –

I am advised that the CCSC deems AMMA to be professional thereby giving them the right to regulate the sport.  The authority for this is apparently derived from the fact that the Unified Rules of MMA specifically deal with amateur contests.

This logic, unfortunately, does not hold water.   While Schedule E of the Calgary bylaw specifically incorporates the Nevada State Athletic Commission’s Unified Mixed Martial Arts Rules, and while it is true that these do deal with the regulation of AMMA, Section 52(6) of the Calgary Bylaw reads as follows:

Where there is a conflict between the rules and regulations provided for in this
Section or in the Schedules to this Bylaw and a provision of this Bylaw, the Bylaw
provision shall prevail.

In plain English this means that the Unified Rules do not trump the fact that the Calgary Bylaw does not give the commission the authority to regulate AMMA.

So, AMMA appears to, unfortunately, lack a proper framework to be legal in Calgary.

The good news is this is a problem that can be fixed.  This shortcoming can be remedied either on the Provincial level if Alberta decides to regulate MMA on a province wide basis, or, if local commissions will remain the law of the land in Alberta then the local Bylaw can be amended to specifically address AMMA.