News / Edmonton

‘Back in business’: Moratorium on wrestling will be lifted, Mayor Iveson confirms

The official decision to lift the ban on combative sports and on athletes fighting overseas will be made next week, on Jan. 23.

Nathan “Nasty Nate Nixon” Spence is just one of several Edmonton-based wrestlers pleased the city is taking a second look at wrestling as part of a moratorium on combative sports.

Kevin Tuong / for metro

Nathan “Nasty Nate Nixon” Spence is just one of several Edmonton-based wrestlers pleased the city is taking a second look at wrestling as part of a moratorium on combative sports.

The moratorium on professional wrestling will be lifted in the next council meeting, Mayor Don Iveson confirmed on Wednesday.

The decision was made after a number of professional wrestlers at the Community and Public Services Committee meeting presented the case that professional wrestling was mostly “sports entertainment” with “predetermined outcomes” so there was no room for injury.

“They will be back in business in a week,” Iveson said.

City council had put a moratorium on combative sports after receiving an update on the status of a review into the death of professional boxer Tim Hague, who died after a boxing match in Edmonton last June. 

The committee meeting also recommends to allow athletes of other combative sports to compete overseas, as the moratorium had also put a pause on that.

Athletes competing abroad need a letter from the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, which under the moratorium they could not get.

“I thought it was a bit of an overly rash decision on banning this because you know it’s sports entertainment, we obviously go in there and we beat each other up but we know how to do it safely,” said Nathan Spence (a.k.a. Nasty Nate Nixon), who has been a professional wrestler since last April.

“I’m excited to get back to work.”

He said being new to wrestling he was worried the moratorium would “kill his momentum” but he is excited to get back to business.

Iveson said the consequence of athletes not being able to fight overseas was “unintended” and that they did not expect that would happen.

For the other combative sporting events, the committee will discuss the issue again on Feb. 21.

“We think if the all-clear is there that fighter safety has been improved materially and important recommendations are in place, then a week later at city council we will be able to lift the moratorium,” Iveson said.

At the committee meeting, more than 20 people, both from the wrestling and the boxing communities came to speak against the moratorium.

“We have contributed considerable revenue to (the) city.... The city’s decision was hasty,” said Melanie Lubovac, with KO Boxing.

“This was done on ill-informed advice.... We will not sit idly by as council takes away our livelihood.”

She stressed that council needs to make a decision sooner rather than later as they book venues months in advance and the more council delays, the more losses they will face.

The official decision to lift the ban on wrestling and on athletes fighting overseas will be made next week, on Jan. 23.

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