In the distant north, there is a secret territory blanketed by snow and pain. In this land, the fights are made like it’s 1992, with regular squash matches created purely for the bloodthirsty joy of the lumberjacks and maple syrup farmers that populate the bars in the eighth largest Canadian municipality. In Vancouver, no governing body can stop a human from placing two other extremely mismatched humans in a ring for the sake of one-sided violence. To some, this is heaven, to others, this is a thickly-accented hell full of extremely kind people that have a not so kind habit of applauding fully-trained fighters cutting down bar-goers and brave souls that think trying their hand at this fighting stuff. It may impress their date for the evening, but is that really going to work when you get your ass kicked? Like so many, this night ends with the unprepared and unskilled on their back collecting sticky pieces of popcorn and diseases as they look up at the lights above them and contemplate where it all went wrong.
We’ve featured these fights on MiddleEasy.com before, flabbergasted at how they are even legal. Well, it turns out they aren’t, kind of. In an attempt at some sort of investigative journalism, I sought out sources within the seedy underbelly of the Vancouver fight scene, and if I promised to let the remain anonymous, they would spill the beans for me.
Here in Vancouver, professional MMA is illegal still for the time being until about May 30th when an actual provincial commission should be formed regulating both pro MMA and pro Boxing (which is currently legal). There was a time when pro MMA was legal here from the early 90s till about 2006 early 2007 when the pro fights became illegal (another story for another day). But for some reason amateur fighting is legal in a sort of weird grey area. Now we get into the subject of these weird fights…
I’ve searched the internet as thoroughly as someone can search its vastness (by using proper boolean operators), but I’ve found no such ruling coming about for pro MMA in Vancouver. Maybe someone is working on filing the paperwork today, but if they are, they’re being awfully quiet about their dealings. Besides, once those papers are filed, and a ruling body actually regulates fights up there, we’ll continue to see bouts like this:
That was a Muay Thai fight, but it’s all under the same banner in which a guy in the crowd pretty much places volunteers to bang against trained fighters. Deplorable? Yes. Entertaining, kind of. As they say, it’s all fun in games until someone gets kicked upside the head in a scummy bar with a ring set up and dies of a hemorrhage or something. That’s how the saying goes, right? Let’s go back to our super secret source on this situation.
AMMY MMA is very loosely governed by a group called MMABC which consists of trained professional referees that have passed John McCarthy’s course and Herb Dean’s course grads as well. There are also MMA veterans from BC that help govern MMABC (guys like journeyman Bill Mahood and Pancrase vet Paul Lazenby). MMABC tries to treat AMMY events with the same standards as the pro events with qualified judging, referees, officials, and medical staff for fighting events. Many MMA events have been MMABC governed and the Muay Thai and Boxing events I’ve worked are governed by their own groups. Now the fights you’ve been seeing on Youtube have been going on for many years and are governed by the promotion itself (Gianco Promotions) which of course means nothing. None of the promotions are required to use MMABC’s services so anyone could pretty much govern the event as they see fit. They might as well be called the Can Crushing Fighting Championships because their cards are stacked 15 high with possibly only one or two fights on the card that are actually competitive.
The competitive fights are actually fairly hard to come by. Perhaps they weren’t uploaded with the same joy as the one-sided beatdowns. As you’ll see in this next video, a supposedly drunk opponent takes elbows to the head which are illegal in any amateur competition.
A lot of the fighting cans that you’ve seen are independent fighters that don’t even have any formal training outside of putting on gloves and scrapping in the backyard or basement. The promotion doesn’t care really about the guys that step into the ring, they only care really about drawing power and filling up the hall on a Friday night every month. There’s been random things like guys taking fights with an hour of a guy pulling out, the promoter changing names of fighters on the card that have gone pro (going pro to AMMY is not OK), and there isn’t really proper medical staff there outside of a guy with his level 1 first aid that anyone can get. Until there is a real athletic commission that regulates the events in the city of Vancouver, you guys will have a post every few weeks from the events up here, sadly.
And it’s true, just a few days ago a new video was posted featuring Justyn Rackstraw getting beat up yet again.
Will the wild west of fighting in Vancouver be cleaned up? It looks like yes. We’ll find out today (thanks to Jonathan Tweedale for the info in that link) officially when the commissioner gets put in place, and a host of changes are coming that will further the reach of the athletic commission to amateur shows. No longer will we see videos like this. Or will we?