In the past three years, groups where young men consensually fight each other have emerged in various parts of North America. Some find joyful rewards while others suffer bloody, horrifying consequences.
After looking further into this phenomenon, I have come to the conclusion that fighting illegally is, to me, both foolish and irresponsible. However, I am aware that my opinion is of little consequence to potential amateur combatants who may be reading this article.
Most recently on Sept. 21, Brandon Police investigated the fight club called Brandon Beat Down (BBD), as reported by the Winnipeg Free Press. According to the Free Press, the BBD had over 100 members. The group held fights in school-yards and public parks while videos of their brawls were posted on Youtube.com. Bouts followed rules similar to those of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). Participants were mainly high school students and young men in their 20s. Police began their investigation following calls from concerned parents. According to the Winnipeg Sun, two men were charged with public mischief.
Further back in July, a trial commenced with three adult males charged with causing “multiple counts of bodily injury to a disabled person” at the Corpus Christi State School in Texas in what was called a “late night” fight club, as reported by CBC News. The violence was filmed on cell phone cameras in March of 2009. CBC News also reported that in September 2006, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary investigated a fight club in Corner Brook, Newfoundland based on similar concerns of disorderly conduct. They boasted over 150 members and numerous alcohol related charges.
Young men everywhere are willfully involving themselves in fights. Many bouts are neither legal nor guarantee safety. The Canadian Press has attested that some of these brawls were initially influenced by the Hollywood movie Fight Club (1999) and the popularity of Ultimate Fighting Championship. However, the persistence of the trend, benefits and constraints are not immediately clear.
Participants mostly seem to be young men, who mobilize using the Internet. They also post their matches on the web. The bigger the group becomes, the higher the risk of police intervention.
Young men may decide to fight because benefits do exist. First of all, there is the monetary aspect. Bystanders often bet on the outcome and fighters may even get a cut. Then there is the pride gained from winning. A prize could be the fame gained by posting a video on Youtube where even the losers are famous, or the right to show off a fancy new scar. There is also the health aspect. In a world where obesity is considered an epidemic, kids throwing punches in real life instead of in videogames could lead to a reversal of the obesity trend. At last, there is the undeniable adrenaline rush gained from scrapping with someone in a situation where one of you could be injured or even killed.
Unfortunately, there are also terrible legal consequences and the horrifying medical aspect. As both the Free Press and the Sun reported, any meeting with hands and fists between at least two individuals who met through prior arrangements are considered prize fights. The Free Press states that “prize fights are illegal under Section 83 of the Criminal Code of Canada,” with penalties leading up to six months of jail time and a $5,000 fine.
An example of the medical consequence is Keegan Saville, a 19-year old Brandon man who took part in a brawl with the BBD. Saville suffered internal injuries including a ruptured spleen and, according to his mother, a face “looking like a hamburger.” There were no paramedics on call, meaning that Saville’s survival was really a stroke of good luck.
Perhaps someone who can best illustrate the ill repercussions of full contact fighting is a man who does it professionally and legally. Hamilton, Ontario’s own mixed martial artist Jeff “The Inferno” Bridges sums it all up on his blog entry following the hiccups of the BBD: “How dumb can people be? I think these fight clubs will bring some heat onto the sport of MMA and are really dangerous for everyone who participates in them.”
Fighting with proper skill and training, qualified referees and medical staff standing by still presents some danger to combatants. Fighting in the middle of some park with limited training and no safety measures in place is a recipe for disaster.
The thing that bothers me is that someone’s teenage son could be severely injured or killed while doing something that means nothing. That would be a parent’s worst nightmare coming true.
The UFC should help educate people about the dangers of fight clubs and unsanctioned MMA fights by having some of the more popular fighters discuss the topic during their televised events.”
In light of these events, there is no doubt that an athletic market in search of new full contact games to play exists and is willing to go to great lengths to feed the demand. With any luck, people will be more careful as to how they choose to spend their free time before somebody suffers an unfortunate fatality.
Joël Vandale almost has a black belt in tae kwon do, but chooses not to fight.