How Are Combat Sports Legal?

They have been around for so long, that many people never really think about their legality. It certainly causes grief amongst various groups, particularly those who deplore violence of any kind. Since the purpose of the sports, such as boxing, is to cause physical injury to another person, how do participants avoid criminal charges? Sports like kickboxing, wrestling, and martial arts do seem to fall under criminal assault laws. But they clearly are not considered illegal, and there are reasons for this, however ambiguous they seem

The Laws

Australian jurisdiction covers combat sports specifically. The Combat Sports Act 2008 in NSW, and the Professional Boxing and Combat Sports Act 1985 in VIC are two of these. But what exactly makes something a “combat sport”, and not just regular fighting? It needs to fulfil at least one of these requirements:

  • It must be carried out for a profit.
  • The participants must be given some type of money reward.
  • Members of the public must be allowed to watch in exchange for an entry fee. If it is a charity event, admission prices are not required. However, a combat sports charity event must be overseen or organised by an amateur boxing organisation or the Minister.

It is easy to see that what happens during a combat sports event, and in an incident of assault, are largely similar. In both situations there is bodily harm or even serious wounds given, on purpose. While the above laws seem fairly straightforward, there have been many cases regarding the matter.

Cage Fighting

While sports like boxing have been established as being legal in Australia, there are concerns by anti-combat sports advocates. The Ultimate Fighting Championship that airs on pay television in the US is growing increasingly popular in Australia. It gets a lot of publicity in the media, with unofficial footage easily available on the Internet. There was a ban on cage fights in Australia until recently, when the Labor government raised the ban. This lead to the Australian Fighting Championship taking place in Melbourne in March, 2015.

The only state that still has a ban on cage fighting is Western Australia. This is naturally disconcerting for those who believe that combat sports are against the law, and should be treated as such. The argument against combat sports largely related around whether or not consent is good enough to change the law. In combat sport, there is a chance of injury and fatality. However, there are many sports and activities that have high physical risks involved. Just consider skydiving, surfing, or motor sports, for example.

Anti-Combat Sports Advocates

Advocates of bans point out that there should be no difference between two actions, just because of the difference of intent. If two people were to start fighting in the streets, with the goal of each being to knock their opponent unconscious, they would be arrested. If those two people were then to do the exact same thing in a boxing ring, in front of a crowd of cheering onlookers, it would be deemed as legal. This is why those against combat sports fail to reconcile the difference between combat sports, and plain combat.

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