Don't lock us out

THE promoter of last month's 'cage fighting' event at Bangalow has promised he'll be back next year and he's looking for a bigger venue because of the interest it generated.

This despite at least one Northern Star letter-writer labelling fans of the sport as 'sickos'.

“You would have to ask yourself whose taste it runs to and would the sickos who pay up to $10,000 for ringside seats be content to just watch it, or would they try to put it into practice on the streets if they had sufficient number of back-ups in case an intended victim retaliates,” Tony Madden, of Lismore Heights, wrote on October 14.

Madden went on to claim that head-butting, kicking or kneeing to the head and 'putting a finger into any orifice or wound' was allowed under the rules.

But according to Shane Balmer, the promoter of last month's Underground Mixed Martial Arts event at Bangalow, nothing could be further from the truth.

“I respect people's opinions, whether they are for it or against it, as long as they are educated and not misinformed,” Balmer said.

“What they have to understand is there are seven pages of rules in the sport and in 16 years of the sport there has never been a death.

“The disciplines that are involved (boxing, kick-boxing, wrestling and martial arts) individually are not illegal.

“What annoys me is people who start making up fibs just to support their story.”

Balmer believes that mixed martial arts is suffering the same bad press that has dogged boxing and kick-boxing in the past.

“Boxing used to cop it a long time ago, kick boxing has copped it and now it's mixed martial arts' turn,” he said.

“This sport is fully regulated and legal in most States, to the best of my knowledge, except for Victoria, and that's for political reasons.”

Balmer said that a lot criticism centred on the use of the 'cage'.

“What people don't realise is that the cage has a lot of give in it,” he said.

“It is plastic-coated chain mesh, which is shock resistant.

“While it is visually spectacular it's really there for the fighters' safety so they don't get thrown over the ropes and into the crowd.”

And, yes, it will be back next year, with Balmer looking for a bigger venue than Bangalow's A and I Hall.

“We got a bit over 500 to the event and we couldn't have fitted anyone else comfortably, they were pretty stacked,” Balmer said.

“All the feedback we got was positive, we didn't have any negative feedback from those who attended the event, and that seems to be what happens when people actually go and see it.

“We may or may not be in Bangalow, hopefully we can do it bigger and make it a Fox Sports-aired event.”

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