BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

        |Hearing Date: August 19, 2013      |Bill No:  AB                       |
        |                                   |1186                               |

                               AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
                              Senator Ted W. Lieu, Chair

                         Bill No:        AB 1186Author:Bonilla
                         As Amended:August 12, 2013Fiscal: Yes

        SUBJECT:  State Athletic Commission.  (Urgency)     
        SUMMARY:  An urgency measure that clarifies that the California State  
        Athletic Commission is authorized to regulate all forms of full  
        contact martial arts contests involving participants 18 years of age  
        or younger, including all forms and combinations of forms of full  
        contact martial arts contests deemed by the Commission to be similar,  
        and that an amateur contest includes a contest where full contact is  
        used, even if unintentionally. 

        Existing Federal law:  The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (Federal  
        Boxing Act) prohibits events from taking place in a state without a  
        regulatory commission unless the fight is regulated by either another  
        state's commission or on sovereign tribal land.  (Title 15 U.S.C.   

        Existing law:
        1)The Boxing Act, or State Athletic Commission Act (State Act),  
          provides for the licensing and regulation of boxers, kickboxers,  
          martial arts athletes and events held in California by the  
          California State Athletic Commission (Commission) within the  
          Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and makes the Commission  
          inoperative and repealed on January 1, 2014.

        2)Provides that protection of the public shall be the highest priority  
          for the Commission in exercising its licensing, regulatory, and  
          disciplinary functions, and whenever the protection of the public is  
          inconsistent with other interests sought to be promoted, the  
          protection of the public shall be paramount.  (BPC  18602.1)


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        3)Provides that "contest" and "match" are synonymous, may be used  
          interchangeably, include boxing, kickboxing, and martial arts  
          exhibitions, and mean a fight, prizefight, boxing contest,  
          pugilistic contest, kickboxing contest, martial arts contest, or  
          sparring match, between two or more persons, where full or partial  
          contact is used or intended that may result or is intended to result  
          in physical harm to the opponent. Provides that in any exhibition or  
          sparring match, the opponents are not required to use their best  
          efforts.  (BPC  18625)

        4)Provides for the following definitions:  (BPC  18627)

           a)   "Martial arts" means any form of karate, kung fu, tae kwon-do,  
             kickboxing or any combination of full contact martial arts,  
             including mixed martial arts, or self-defense conducted on a full  
             contact basis where a weapon is not used.

           b)   "Kickboxing" means any form of boxing in which blows are  
             delivered with the hand and any part of the leg below the hip,  
             including the foot.

           c)   "Full contact" means the use of full unrestrainted physical  
             force in a martial arts contest.

           d)   "Light contact" means the use of controlled martial arts  
             techniques whereby contact to the body is permitted in a  
             restrained manner, no contact to the face is permitted, and no  
             contact is permitted which may result or is intended to result in  
             physical harm to the opponent. 

           e)   "Noncontact" means that no contact occurs between either  

        1)Provides that the Commission has the sole direction, management,  
          control of, and jurisdiction over all professional and amateur  
          boxing, professional and amateur kickboxing, all forms and  
          combinations of forms of full contact martial arts contests,  
          including mixed martial arts, and matches or exhibitions conducted,  
          held, or given within this state. Provides that no event shall take  
          place without the prior approval of the Commission and no person  
          shall engage in the promotion of, or participate in, a boxing or  
          martial arts contest, match, or exhibition without a license.  (BPC  

        2)Provides that the Commission may authorize a nonprofit boxing,  


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          wrestling, or martial arts club or organization, upon approval of  
          its bylaws, to administer its rules for amateur boxing, wrestling,  
          and full contact martial arts contests.  Requires the Commission to  
          review the performance of any such club or organization annually.   
          Requires the Commission to review compliance with requirements for  
          amateur contests to be preceded by a physical examination of every  
          contestant, that a physician is in attendance at the contest and  
          that the organization has a medical insurance program covering all  
          contestants.  Requires an organization to provide written financial  
          reports of receipts and disbursements within 90 days of an amateur  
          event.  Authorizes the Commission to have representatives present as  
          are necessary to obtain compliance with the requirements for amateur  
          events.  Authorizes the Commission to require any additional notices  
          and reports from an organization it deems necessary. 
        (BPC  18646)

        3)Provides that no person under the age of 18 years shall participate  
          as a contestant in any contest or match or exhibition, except that  
          any person 16 years or over may be licensed as an amateur and may  
          participate in an amateur contest or match.  (BPC  18702)

        4)Creates an advisory committee on medical and safety standards, which  
          consists of six licensed physicians and surgeons appointed by the  
          commission for the purpose of studying and recommending medical and  
          safety standards for the conduct of boxing, wrestling, and martial  
          arts contests. (BPC  18645)

        5)Authorizes the Commission to appoint a martial arts advisory  
          committee, composed of individuals, residing in California, who have  
          prior to their appointment, been promoters, fighters, trainers,  
          managers, or officials in publicly held kickboxing or full-contact  
          martial arts events.  (BPC  18769)

        This bill:

        1) Removes "partial contact" from the definition of a contest or  

        2) Clarifies that "full contact" means the use of full unrestrained  
           physical force in a martial arts contest that may result, or is  
           intended to result, in physical harm to the opponent, including any  
           contact that does not meet the definition of light contact or  

        3) Clarifies that an amateur contest or match includes a contest or  


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           match where full contact is used, even if unintentionally.

        4) Specifies that an amateur contest or match does not include light  
           contact karate, tae kwon-do, judo, or any other light contact  
           martial arts as approved by the commission and recognized by the  
           International Olympic Committee as an Olympic sport.

        5) Clarifies that the Commission shall have jurisdiction over all  
           forms and combination of forms of full contact martial arts  
           contests involving participants 18 years of age or younger.
        6) Requires the Commission to establish a pankration subcommittee to  
           investigate the rules and conduct of contests involving or claiming  
           to involve pankration by persons under 18 years of age, or any  
           style deemed by the subcommittee to be sufficiently similar.   
           Requires the subcommittee to make recommendations to the Commission  
           regarding any administrative actions or statutory changes to be  
           enacted that may be necessary to improve its regulation and  
           oversight of contests in order to adequately protect participants.   
           Provides that the pankration subcommittee shall consist of three  
           members of the commission who meet and examine the following,  
           including, but not limited to:

           a)   The legality and safety of contests.

           b)   Whether or not legislation should be enacted to impose  
             age-based requirements or restrictions, which may include a  
             prohibition on participants engaging in contests.

           c)   Appropriate safety precautions for persons under 18 years of  
             age engaging in contests.

        1) States that this is an urgency measure necessary to take effect  
           immediately for the immediate preservation of the public peace,  
           health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the  

        FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.  This bill is keyed "fiscal" by Legislative  

        1. Purpose.  The  Author  is the Sponsor of this measure.  According to  
           the Author, this bill is necessary to ensure the health and safety  
           of young children participating in certain amateur MMA events,  
           known as pankration.  According to the Author, event organizers  


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           have used loopholes in state law to escape Commission regulations,  
           which puts kids at risk for serious injury.  Pankration organizers  
           have testified at numerous Commission meetings and in  
           communications to the Commission that their sport includes only  
           light or partial contact, thus does not fall under the jurisdiction  
           of the Commission, which has oversight responsibilities for full  
           contact sports.  Pankration event organizers in California have  
           also argued that the Commission does not license athletes under the  
           age of 16, and since the youth participating in their events are  
           under 16, the Commission does not have jurisdiction to regulate  
           pankration events.  According to the Author, clarifying the  
           definition of full contact to ensure proper oversight of youth  
           events in California will provide for important safety precautions  
           at youth pankration events, including physical examinations for  
           participants, physician attendance at all events, and a medical  
           insurance program for all contests.

        2. Background.

           a)   The California State Athletic Commission (Commission).  The  
             Commission is responsible for protecting the health and safety of  
             its licensees; boxers, kickboxers and martial arts athletes.   
             Established by initiative in 1924, stemming from concerns for  
             athletes' injuries and deaths, the Commission provides direction,  
             management, control of and jurisdiction over professional and  
             amateur boxing, professional and amateur kickboxing, all forms  
             and combinations of full contact martial arts contests, including  
             mixed martial arts (MMA) and matches or exhibitions conducted,  
             held or given in California.  SB 1549 (Chapter 691, Statutes of  
             2004) gave the Commission jurisdiction over MMA, which at the  
             time was a relatively new sport that was quickly growing in  
             popularity.  The Commission oversees licensing, prohibited  
             substance testing, and event regulation.  Functionally, the  
             Commission has five primary responsibilities: licensing,  
             protection of the boxer and fighter, enforcement, regulating  
             events and administering the Pension Fund.  Responsibilities 
             The Commission is responsible for implementation and enforcement  
             of the Federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act (Federal Boxing  
             Act) and the California Boxing Act or State Athletic Commission  
             Act (State Act).  The Commission establishes requirements for  
             licensure, issues and renews licenses, approves and regulates  
             events, assigns ringside officials, investigates complaints  
             received, and enforces applicable laws by issuing fines and  
             suspending or revoking licenses.  In 2012, the Commission  
             supervised close to 200 events.  The Commission has so far  


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             supervised over 100 events in 2013.  The Commission licenses a  
             number of individuals related to the participation in, oversight  
             for, and management of events in California. 

           b)   Delegation of Authority for Amateur Sports in California.   
             Current law allows the Commission to delegate its authority to  
             oversee amateur sports to a qualified nonprofit organization if  
             the Commission determines that the nonprofit "meets or exceeds  
             the safety and fairness standards of the Commission."  The  
             Commission has the "sole direction, management, control of, and  
             jurisdiction over all professional and amateur boxing,  
             professional and amateur kickboxing, all forms and combinations  
             of forms of full contact martial arts contests, including mixed  
             martial arts, and matches or exhibitions conducted, held, or  
             given within this state."  Thus, under current law, the  
             Commission's delegated authority for amateur regulation would  
             also have oversight of the same sports as the Commission.
             California is unique in requiring that a delegated authority have  
             nonprofit status.  According to information provided by the  
             National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), many other  
             states similarly delegate regulatory authority for amateur sports  
             but do not always require the organization to have nonprofit  
             status.  Some, like Oklahoma, require that an authority other  
             than the state commission be a nationally recognized amateur  
             sanctioning body.  Many sanctioning outfits are actually  
             for-profit organizations but often have national or international  
             authority over a particular sport.

             The Commission has delegated its regulatory oversight  
             responsibilities of amateur boxing and MMA to two different  
             nonprofit organizations; USA Boxing, Inc. and the California  
             Amateur Mixed Martial Arts Organization (CAMO).

             There have been several issues with USA Boxing that raise some  
             concern regarding the oversight of amateur boxing.  In 2009, the  
             Commission suspended USA Boxing's authorization to regulate  
             amateur boxing for three weeks in response to media reports of  
             improprieties including underage alcohol consumption and gambling  
             at USA Boxing sanctioned events and concern for the health and  
             safety of amateur athletes.  That delegation was reinstated after  
             the Commission staff negotiated stricter requirements regarding  
             safety, background checks, uniformity, reporting and record  
             keeping, and included promises for USA Boxing to be more  
             responsive to the Commission.  The Commission voted to place USA  
             Boxing on probation until June 2010.  Earlier this year, the  


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             Commission informed USA Boxing that it would be randomly sending  
             the Commission inspectors to USA Boxing sanctioned events to  
             ensure safety at those events.

             When CAMO was first created and received authority from the  
             Commission to oversee amateur MMA, there was no consensus on  
             safety standards for amateur MMA and CAMO The founders reported  
             that it was unnecessary and even dangerous for the fighters to  
             wear headgear.  It does not appear that the Commission ever  
             adopted regulations to clearly outline the difference between  
             professional regulations and amateur regulations prior to  
             delegating its authority.  Additionally, the Commission struggled  
             with a definition of what constitutes "full contact" and should  
             therefore be regulated.  While CAMO presented substantial  
             regulations and clear standards for the components necessary to  
             oversee amateur MMA, there is some concern that the Commission  
             was not yet in a position in its own process and according to its  
             own procedures to assist in the creation of the CAMO program.   
             The Commission also worked with a small group of stakeholders to  
             create a new model for regulation which may have omitted the  
             input of many passionate athletes and organizers.  CAMO  
             established a fee structure for licensing that exceeds any of the  
             fees collected by the Commission.  Many groups determined to be  
             under CAMO's regulatory authority still balk at the fee  
             structure, citing that high fees are cost prohibitive to conduct  
             events.  BSA also reported that the Commission may have  
             opportunities to generate revenue by regulating amateur MMA  
             rather than delegating its authority to CAMO.   

        1. Pankration Safety Concerns.  Recent features on Nightline and  
           Dateline focused on young children in Southern California who  
           compete in pankration events that take place in cages, similar to  
           those made popular by professional MMA outfit The Ultimate Fighting  
           Championship (UFC).  In the feature, clips from a pankration event,  
           put on by the United States Fight League (USFL), showed a young  
           girl being hit in the face by a young boy during a match in a cage.  
            USFL has consistently countered that the clip has been taken out  
           of context, that the organization's rules do not allow for strikes  
           to the head and the match was stopped by a referee once the head  
           strikes occurred.  The event was not regulated by CAMO, which has  
           been delegated the Commission's authority for regulating amateur  
           MMA.  USFL events like the one featured in the media clip have no  
           requirements for medical and safety standards like those required  
           by the Commission and CAMO.  USFL's written rules, which govern its  
           events, specifically restrict strikes to the head and USFL  
           management claim that the rules are consistent with other light  


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           contact sports like karate and tae kwon do which are decided on a  
           point scoring system, rather than by harm to the opponent as in  
           MMA.  However, USFL pankration events do allow knee strikes which  
           are not allowed in any other grappling sports like judo or jiu  
           jitsu or even kickboxing.  MMA and Muay Thai, a sport very similar  
           to MMA, are the only disciplines other than pankration, as  
           practiced and promoted by USFL, that also allow knee strikes.   
           Additionally, there are age restrictions for amateur Muay Thai  
           particpants, allowing only youth 16 and older to compete in that  
           sport, while pankration events do not have any age restriction and  
           participants as young as five years old have competed in these  
           In March 2009, the Commission first expressed concern about youth  
           pankration events in California, specifically that head strikes  
           were taking place and the events were not regulated.    Commission  
           staff and Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) Legal Counsel  
           attended pankration events and reviewed videos and organization  
           rules to determine if the activity constituted full contact combat  
           sports and should be regulated.  Organizers modified rules numerous  
           times to evade regulation until the Commission received a formal  
           legal opinion in 2010, which found that pankration is a form of  
           full contact MMA, subject to the Commission's oversight.  

           Throughout 2009 and 2010, the USFL, which was known then as the  
           Amateur Pankration League/USA Pankration, came before the  
           Commission and this Committee contesting the determination that  
           their sport is full contact, under the Commission's jurisdiction,  
           and since the group put on amateur shows, would be regulated by  
           CAMO on the Commission's behalf.  The group continues to testify at  
           Commission hearings that they are not full contact, despite the  
           video clips recently highlighted on Nightline and Dateline, as well  
           as those used by the Commission's Legal Counsel to make the  
           original determination.  However, the USFL President has described  
           his events as "kids MMA" or "MMA events for kids" when promoting  
           the competitions, creating a significant lack of clarity.  A recent  
           subcommittee meeting of the Commission received testimony that  
           there is a lack of consistency among the trainers and youth  
           pankration promoters in terms of requirements for medical  
           evaluations prior to competitions.  Pankration stakeholders also  
           recently testified that they believe that only practices which  
           result in injuries, as logged and tracked so as to create  
           statistics about such injuries, should be excluded from events and  
           the organization's rules.  USFL recently testified that it supports  
           the regulation of youth pankration, but that the events should only  
           be governed by the USFL rules, rather than general rules for full  


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           contact MMA as those outlined by CAMO.    

           At its annual meeting last month, the Association of Boxing  
           Commissions (ABC) Medical Safety Committee issued the following  
           guidelines for amateur combat events:

           a)   Amateur events should be regulated by State Athletic  
             Commissions or participating jurisdictions, since amateur combat  
             sports participants have fewer skill sets, but run the same or  
             greater risk of injury as do professional combat sports  

           b)   Minimum medical requirements for participation in any amateur  
             event with modified rules (such as no elbow striking to the head  
             on the ground in MMA) should include:

              i)      Annual history and physical examination.

              ii)     Baseline CBC, blood chemistries, lipid profile, clotting  

              iii)    Communicable disease testing (HIV1/2, Hepatitis BsAg,  
                hepatitis C Ab) (every six months).

              iv)     Annual ophthalmologic examination.

              v)      Baseline neurologic testing.

           a)   The reviewing Commission/jurisdiction physician may require  
             further testing depending on the results of those submitted prior  
             to licensure/fight clearance.

           b)   Suspensions of amateurs post-fight should be submitted to the  
             appropriate national website (Fight-Fax,  

        1. Similar and Related Legislation This Session.   SB 309  (Lieu)  
           extends the operation of the California State Athletic Commission  
           until 2016.  Makes various changes to the laws governing the  
           Commission's operations and the Commission's oversight of  
           professional and amateur boxing, professional and amateur  
           kickboxing, all forms and combinations of full contact martial arts  
           contests, including mixed martial arts (MMA) and matches or  
           exhibitions conducted, held or given in California.  (  Status:   The  
                                                                              bill is currently pending in the Assembly Committee on  


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        2. Prior Related Legislation.   AB 2100  (Alejo) of 2012 would have  
           required that the Commission, in consultation with the Association  
           of Boxing Commissions (ABC), to establish and enforce a  
           professional code of conduct, as specified, and that persons  
           seeking payment as promoters must make specified disclosures to the  
           CSAC prior to being compensated.  (  Status  :  The bill was held in  
           the Assembly Committee on Appropriations.)

            SB 543  (Price, Chapter 448, Statutes of 2011) extended the  
           Commission sunset date for 2 years, from January 1, 2012 to January  
           1, 2014.

            SB 294  (Negrete McLeod, Chapter 695, Statutes of 2010) extended the  
           Commission sunset date for one year, from January 1, 2011 to  
           January 1, 2012.

            SB 963  (Ridley-Thomas, Statutes of 2008) extended the Commission  
           sunset date from July 1, 2009 to January 1, 2011.

            SB 247  (Perata, Chapter 465, Statutes of 2006) reestablished the  
           Commission on January 1, 2007, as an independent board through July  
           1, 2009.

        3. Arguments in Support.  Supporters believe that this bill will  
           protect the health and safety of children who participate in full  
           contact martial arts events.   Roy Englebrecht Promotions/Fight Club  
           OC  and  Bellator MMA  note that "it is essential that the Commission  
           be provided every tool necessary to keep athletes safe, especially  
           child participants" and call this bill "critical to protect the  
           health and well-being of children."  


        Bellator MMA
        Roy Englebrecht Promotions/Fight Club OC


        None on file as of August 14, 2013.

        Consultant:Sarah Mason


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