The War On Responsible Adulthood

Continues in Arkansas, where one busybody lawmaker wants to ban Tough Man contests. Why?

“Everytime these things come to town, there’s the possibility that someone’s going to get hurt or killed like they did in the past,” says Texarkana Representative Steve Harrelson.

And?

One, every sporting event has a risk of death, the question is how great the risk is. Two, the risk here is minimal, as the article states there have been a grand total of fifteen deaths nationwide. Three, and most importantly, every one of the folks who died: 1) was an adult, 2) knew what the risks were, 3) chose to take the risks, and 4) endangered no one but themselves. Personally, I think anyone who participates in one of these things is a barbaric dumbass, but it’s their ass on the line, not mine

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8 Comments on “The War On Responsible Adulthood”


  1. I’d disagree somewhat, and the point is not to put a stop to amateur boxing. It’s to stop elimination style contests. These contestants don’t know how tough it is to fight three and four people in the same night and then come back the next day and do it again until it’s too late. Pros don’t do that. That’s why Texas and others have banned it.

    What’s wrong with enhancing the Arkansas Boxing Commission and attracting some real professional entertainment rather than pitting amateurs against each other?

  2. wheeler Says:

    thanks for the comment. how’d you come across the post?

    three points in response:

    “These contestants don’t know”

    i don’t know if that is accurate or not, but even if so, why not some serious disclosure laws? that way they would know ahead of time. in other words, if lack of knowledge is the problem, attack that first, before going nuclear on the whole thing.

    “What’s wrong with enhancing the Arkansas Boxing Commission and attracting some real professional entertainment rather than pitting amateurs against each other?”

    why does the former mean eliminating the latter? like the guy quoted in the article said, tough guy fighting is for guys who like to fight, but will never be boxers. this gives them an outlet.

    that brings me to the third point. maybe this kind of thing has some social value. that is, it gives what would otherwise be street thugs a legitimate place to engage in fisticuffs.


  3. I’ve visited this site before, and we frequent many of the same blogs. To your points:

    (1) I can live with tougher disclosure laws and other requirements, and I’m willing to explore a legislative compromise. I’m not all “big dumb government” as you suggest. For a little local political background, in 2001 the Toughman somehow convinced the Legislature here to remove them from the oversight of the Arkansas Athletic Commission. Now the toughest penalty they can receive in Arkansas is a $1,000 fine.

    (2) Nothing’s wrong with maintaining an amateur boxing presence in the state. This guy can have his stage, but elimination contests shouldn’t be a part of that. Experts say that the death rate is exponentially higher when fighters fight multiple opponents in one night, and that’s why they’re banned in a third of the states.

    (3) I don’t like government intervention in our personal lives either, and for that reason, a social value isn’t really a requirement to maintaining a legal event to me. Regardless, there are laws against all sorts of activities that involve consenting adults: drag racing, prostitution, cooking meth, statutory rape, the list goes on and on. The Toughman has not shown that it’s capable of following its own guidelines, and their response to initial inquiries is a story in itself.

    This group needs to get the message that communities like mine with families that are left grieving a loss are tired of seeing these promoters leave town with their profits. It’s a circus that needs some serious parameters.

  4. Wheeler Says:

    let me just comment on point three, as i almost compared this to drag racing in my initial post. the big difference is that drag racing endangers people besides the folks in the race. a tough man contest only endangers the two people who knowingly took the risks of the fight.

    i’m a cyclist, a recreational activity that i am certain leads to many more deaths than do tough man contests. but i am an adult and after evaluating the benefits and risks, i’ve decided i’d like to take the chance. it’s my life, after all. i think the same the same logic applies to these contests. no one’s life is at risk other than the people who are choosing to enter the contest. if they want to do it, that ought to be their decision.

    of course, i’m not saying it shouldn’t be regulated. just that we ought to attack the specific problems (like no oversight by the commission) with a rifle before we launch an all out nuclear attack.


  5. Perhaps it’s just that I’ve researched this and have come to the conclusion that regulation with this specific contest isn’t likely to work, and it hasn’t worked in other states — that’s why it’s being banned elsewhere. Let me show you some specific examples of their arrogant conduct in response to regulations:

    – Illinois: In 2003, the Toughman held a bout without informing the Illinois boxing commission. After the commission learned of the event, two investigators to were sent to the next venue. When they arrived, they learned that the fighters had been told they could kick their opponents. The occasional kick that night put the event outside the jurisdiction of the state’s boxing commission, which doesn’t regulate kick-boxing. The inspectors had no choice but to let the show go on.

    – Florida: After a death at a Sarasota Toughman event, it was found that there was no physician ringside, even though at least one is required by Florida law. Mr. Dore told the Wall Street Journal said there was a physician’s assistant on duty and that besides, a physician isn’t necessary at a fight. “Really, an EMT is a hell of a lot better to have in case anybody gets hurt anyway,” he said. “You know, doctors don’t know what they’re doing.”

    – Michigan: During a period of time when the Toughman was under a cease-and-desist order issued by the state of Michigan not to hold events there, Dore set up an event at an Indian casino in Michigan, complete with national pay-per-view audience. “That’s a sovereign nation,” he said. 31 year-old Scott Wood was killed at that event.

    When Sen. John McCain filed legislation in 1997 in an attempt to ban the Toughman competition nationwide, he called the contest a form of “human cockfighting.” That’s one reason that other reputable amateur boxing organization detest the Toughman. Amateur boxing is governed by Colorado Springs-based USA Boxing, an organization that has banned Toughman participants from its sanctioned amateur bouts.

    I agree that people should have the ability to make an informed decision about participation in a sport. The problem is that these contestants aren’t being informed, and because of the events described above, I’m not willing to let Dore be the guy to inform them.

    Take our recent death for example. Twitchell’s father told the Texarkana Gazette that “he just thought it was going to be a night of recreation…with all of the super-sized head gear and gloves, he was sure he could not really be harmed.”

    If we can figure out a way to regulate the Toughman in a way that takes the elimination portion out of the equation and sets up reasonable weight classifications like every other boxing organization, I could live with a compromise.

    The problem is that Toughman has continuously objected to any regulation. They don’t want strict weight classifications. Why? Because the fans want to see people get knocked the – out. They don’t want to see draws. That’s why the matchups are intentionally disparate. Of course, they don’t tell the contestants this.

    Besides, when we get right down to it, isn’t heavy regulation of a “sport” (if you can dignify them with that) still “big dumb government” and war on responsible adulthood?

  6. wheeler Says:

    “isn’t heavy regulation of a “sport” (if you can dignify them with that) still “big dumb government” and war on responsible adulthood?”

    well yeah, but i’m not dumb enough to think the ideal world – grown adults allowed to make their own decisions about their own health and well being – will ever exist.

    i guess we just disagree. i have no doubt the organizers are shysters. i also have no doubt that everyone who takes part in the contest is well aware of the dangers. if they want to encounter those dangers, in my view, that is up to them, not me.


  7. Yeah, and the more I think about it, we probably don’t disagree that much on it. I’m not wanting to outlaw any sport — just wanting some standards. Some company will be willing to step in and fill their shoes and provide a true safe, honorable, honest and fair amateur boxing competition. This is something that I don’t think the Toughman is capable of doing, at least at this time.

    I at least though you would enjoy this pair of statutes from your state:

    Louisiana Revised Statute §102.23. Cockfighting

    Until August 15, 2008, It shall be lawful to organize and conduct any commercial or private cockfight wherein there is a display of combat or fighting among one or more domestic or feral chickens and in which it is intended or reasonably foreseeable that the chickens would be injured, maimed, mutilated, or killed.

    Louisiana Revised Statute §4:81.1. Tough-man contest; prohibition

    No person shall conduct, promote, or in any manner participate in any tough-man contest or exhibition.

  8. Wheeler Says:

    i get slammed even by libertarians for this, but i think cock-fighting out to be legal, too!


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