USA TODAY: Foes battle New York MMA bill


(This story originally appeared on usatoday.com)

ALBANY, N.Y. – Clergy, faith leaders and Democratic Assembly members Tuesday called on New York lawmakers to uphold the state ban against MMA.

MMA supporters are pushing the Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to legalize the sport after it has failed repeatedly to get approval in the Democratic-led Assembly. Supporters have said it would be an economic boon to the state, and most states allow it.

Democratic Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan said she opposes MMA and believes individuals’ health should be considered over the money the sport generates in the state.

“I think the injuries are horrific. I think it looks like a cartoon on TV,” Nolan said. “This is not a cartoon; it is not a moment of glory. It is the destruction of another human being’s dignity.”

Nolan said MMA would provide money to the state’s struggling economy, but she stressed that the funds would not go to the fighters participating in the sport.

Opponents of MMA delivered a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other Assembly members on Tuesday calling for them to reject the proposal of holding the events in the state.

“MMA is a great marketing tool, but it is actually called ultimate fighting,” Democratic Assemblywoman Deborah Glick said. “The pitch is, ‘Well this is happening everywhere else so we should cash in on it.’ I reject that notion.”

The proposed bill that would lift the ban is sponsored by 64 Assembly members. Last week on an Albany public-radio show, Cuomo said he believes MMA could have a potential economic benefit for the state. New York banned the sport in 1997.

“I think we need jobs,” Cuomo said on “The Capitol Pressroom.” “I think we need economic activity, especially in upstate New York.”

Father John Duffell of the Church of Blessed Sacrament in Manhattan said MMA is wrong and immoral.

“If this particular piece of legislation passes it would not in any way help us walk the Earth as brothers and sisters because it is all about violence and it is all about hatred,” Duffell said.

In a letter to Silver last week, the UFC said it “works together to ensure that New York and the United States is tolerant, fully respective of women, and protects the rights of all persons, regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, and religious choice.”

Viccaro reports for Gannett’s Albany (N.Y.) bureau.

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