Event will display the martial arts
MINER - While negotiations with city officials have delayed a mixed martial art event planned at J.D.'s Saloon, the snag has nothing to do with recent headlines criticizing Toughman competitions after a competitor's death in Sarasota, Fla.
"It's a martial arts contest, from what I understand - it is not the Toughman contest," said Miner Police Chief Roger Moore. "The problem I'm having is only in the security area. It's going to take a lot of man-hours to make sure this gets covered."
Moore's concern is that people in the crowd, under the influence of alcohol, will get worked up: "That it's going to flow on out into the crowd," he explained. "So that's basically what I'm opposed to - the security issue. It's not exactly a Toughman contest."
Additionally, the city code enforcement official is checking on the occupancy limit and how the ring may effect that limit as well as making sure the extra lighting needed for the event will be up to code.
Originally planned for July 25, it now looks like the event will take place no sooner than September.
In the meantime, the show's promoters, Don Davis Sr. and Don Davis Jr. of Sikeston, are trying to educate people on what the event is and isn't.
"It's not the barbaric cockfight that everybody thinks it is," said Davis Jr. "It's safer than boxing - we've never had major injury in the United States."
Davis Jr. said he has been competing in these types of events all over the United States for the last three years. "I was on the first show that was legal in Missouri, last December," he said. "In Missouri it's legal for amateurs only. They're working to get the professional fights legal."
The amateur fights proposed for this event will feature "well-trained fighters - this is what these guys do," according to Davis Jr. "My problem with the Toughman competition is most of the time it's a bar setting where they get people out of the crowd to compete - drunk, out of shape. It's just a set up for a bad situation."
What he and his father are promoting is "a very technical sport," Davis Jr. said, sanctioned by the International Sport Combat Federation, a sister organization of the International Kickboxing Federation. "ISCF is the only sanctioning body outside Nevada and New Jersey for mixed martial arts."
The competitors being lined up for this event are relatively new up-and-comers in the sport. "We're looking to have between 8 and 12 bouts on a card," said Davis Jr. The Davises are also working with promoters out of Columbia, St. Louis and Kansas City, "trying to get together a Missouri State Championship," Davis Jr. said.
Davis Sr., who owns and operates the Maxout Gym and has held a professional wrestling license since 1969, has competed in this type of event occasionally as well.
He described the event as a combination of boxing, kickboxing and wrestling, with rules for safety.
"It's all the disciplines: karate, grappling, jujitsu - its a mixture of everything," Davis Sr. said, including "catch wrestling" in which holds actually have pressure instead of being faked like modern professional wrestling.
Matches take place in a ring with a springy floor similar to professional wrestling rings. At this level, bouts consist of three two-minute rounds.
"You can't knee an opponent who is down; no strikes to back of the head or neck area - in fact there no spinal strikes at all," Davis Sr. said. "You are allowed to kick just like in martial arts, are allowed to strike, but no blows beneath the belt, like boxing."
Like boxing and other contact sports, "there's bruises and bloody noses," Davis Sr. said, but he vouched for the sport's safety record.
"Basketball's the only sport I've ever been injured in," he said. "There has never, ever been a death in this sort of martial art competition. It's not a street fight - the guys that participate in this are trained athletes; they know what they're doing."
Davis Sr. said the referees and physicians at these fights are keenly aware of safety issues. "I've been to a bunch of these, they take care of the people," he said. "The referee is not going to let a fight go so someone gets seriously hurt."
As for the security issues, Davis Sr. believes it won't be a problem. "It's a different crowd and really a different sort of atmosphere," he said, as the crowd is made up of spectators handing over somewhere around $20 for a ticket. "A guy that's going to pay that kind of money is not going to come in and start a fight."
The Davises have also offered to hire off-duty Miner police officers to assist the establishment's security to ensure order is maintained.