Edmonton council committee recommends ending combative sports ban
If city council votes in favour next week, the ban would end immediately. The moratorium was enacted following a report into the death of boxer Tim Hague.
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Edmonton’s combative sports ban is set to be lifted next week, pending city council’s approval.
The city’s community and public services committee voted unanimously Wednesday to recommend lifting the moratorium, with council to make the final decision on Feb. 28.
If council votes in favour, it would end immediately.
“I think we’ve heard that everybody is on the same page now, which is helpful and allows us to move ahead with confidence that fighter safety will be better protected in the future,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
Council enacted the moratorium on Dec. 7, 2017, following a report into the June 2017 death of boxer and UFC fighter Tim Hague. Hague was knocked out in a fight with Adam Braidwood, suffering a brain haemorrhage and dying in hospital two days later.
The 125-page report stated some safety policies were not followed in the lead-up to the fight.
It made 18 recommendations to strengthen Edmonton’s oversight of combative sports, pertaining to qualification of officials, oversight and monitoring, licensing and permitting of promoters and contestants.
The ban was initially set to remain in place until Dec. 31, 2018.
Melanie Lubovac, president of KO Boxing, said she has been in continuous meetings with the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission to ensure improvements are made and fighters can get back on their feet.
“I’m feeling positive about it,” Lubovac said.
“I think I’ve been in more meetings in the last two months than I’ve ever had to be in.”
She had a major event cancelled abruptly in December, and said at the time the moratorium could kill her business and all combative sports in Edmonton.
Now, she is hopeful her April 28 event at the Shaw Conference Centre will go ahead.
It would be the 50th career fight for champion boxer Jelena Mrdjenovich, who said Wednesday’s decision shows council rushed in issuing the moratorium to begin with.
“I think they didn’t realize the repercussions, I think they didn’t realize the reactions they would get from the community, I don’t think they realized essentially they were cutting people off at the knees," Mrdjenovich said.
"They halted a whole community on how they make their living. I definitely think that it was a knee-jerk reaction. I think they’re realizing this.”
The city lifted the moratorium specifically for wrestling on Jan. 23, but not until after Rogers Place postponed a World Wrestling Entertainment event that was scheduled for Feb. 9.