OTTAWA – The House of Commons has passed a bill legalizing contact sports such as mixed martial arts.
The legislation, which originated in the Senate, takes certain fighting sports, including taekwondo and karate as well as the popular MMA, out of legal limbo.
The sports were not technically covered under prize-fighting law, making it difficult to regulate them and protect the safety of fighters.
Some provinces essentially turn a blind eye and allow MMA contests.
Senators and MPs who favoured the bill said it would end the staging of often-clandestine matches which don’t come under any standards.
The bill passed the Commons easily with 267 MPs in favour and only nine opposed.
The Criminal Code section on prize-fighting was last changed in 1934, long before the rise of the new fighting sports.
Liberal Massimo Pacetti, who supported the bill, said it’s an important move.
“We are laying the groundwork for the general acceptance of these sports across the country,” he said during the debate.
Supporters say MMA bouts are no more dangerous than boxing matches. Others say they may be safer, because MMA fighters can quit when they want, while boxers tend to fight until there’s a knockout or the referee steps in.