Fifteen years ago, the “Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act” was signed into law in the US.
The federal regulation, which can be found at the Federal Trade Commission website, was an attempt to create a fair and safe working environment for boxers.
A one page summary by one of the act’s sponsors offers a run down of the reforms, including the disallowing of a conflict of interest between promoter and sanctioning body.
Also included was a mandate of transparency:
This Act, amending the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996, specifies that a sanctioning organization may not receive any compensation from a boxing match unless it files its bylaws and a complete description of its ratings criteria, policies, and general sanctioning fee schedule with the FTC.
In recent months, MMA fighters increasingly frustrated with so the sport’s current climate — with controversies about fighter pay and sponsorship all often controlled by the same entity — have cited the law, and hoped to see it applied to their sport. Among them are Wanderlei Silva, who joined several other MMA fighters at the annual convention for the Association of Boxing Commissions to lobby for the Ali Act in MMA.
Recently, John Nash of Bloody Elbow reached out to leadership at UFC, Bellator, and MMA World Series of Fighting to see if there was any support for the idea of a Muhammad Ali Act in MMA.
Nash received one response, from Bellator CEO Scott Coker.
“I think it’s a pretty good idea,” Coker wrote. “But like many good ideas, getting it from an idea to actuality will be a long process – it’s not going to happen overnight.”
Coker also proposed a new name, “The Randy Couture Act”:
“The Act amends the 1996 Professional Boxing Safety Act by expanding upon it to protect boxers against exploitation, conflict of interest, enforcement, as well as to provide a mechanism for additional amendments. I am not a lawyer, but I don’t think the ABC has the authority to expand the Ali Act to MMA, it would require an actual amendment from Congress. At one time, a few years back, Senator John McCain introduced a bill to amend the Ali Act to include MMA, however, some strong lobbying efforts (by someone) managed to stall that process and I believe it was abandoned. But hey, if all of the planets aligned and there was a concerted effort to change things, I think I would be in favor of it – in fact, I think they should call it the Randy Couture Act.”