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Press Release
May 3, 2005
Contact: Doris Sanchez, Press Secretary
(512) 463-0385
SB796 also Would Help Attract Championship Boxing Matches

A bill passed by the Texas Legislature this week will ban elimination tournaments, which are more commonly known as "Toughman" fights and also make it easier for Texas to attract major boxing events to the state.

Senate Bill 796, by Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. and sponsored by Rep. Tony Goolsby, was passed by the Texas House of Representatives Thursday. The Texas Senate had earlier approved it on April 7, 2005.

The bill outlaws elimination tournaments in Texas, of which Toughman is the best known. Contestants in elimination tournaments are amateurs who are recruited to fight with little or no training and with insufficient medical or physical check-ups. In the past few years, several combatants have died as the result of injuries they sustained in Toughman events.

"I've been working with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation for two legislative sessions to end this senseless slaughter," Sen. Lucio said. "There is no place in Texas for these so-called athletic contests. They are vicious brawls and they are dangerous. I am proud that my colleagues in the House and the Senate agree with me that this activity finally must stop. I am thrilled that these promoters will no longer profit at the expense of Texans being injured or killed for cheap entertainment"

"Texas scores another knockout with the elimination of Toughman competition and creates a more attractive environment for big-time fights by creating a $30,000 cap on broadcasting rights. This is a good thing for safety and competition," noted Rep. Goolsby.

Two years ago, two Texans died within five months of each other from injuries sustained in Toughman contests. In June 2003, a mother of two in Florida died from injuries she received in the ring in a Toughman contest. Three months ago, a 27-year-old Ohio man allowed to fight three times in a single night by the contest organizers died of extensive bleeding in his brain from repeated blows he received in the ring.

SB 796 will also cap at $30,000 the amount of revenue the state will collect from a 3 percent tax on the broadcast rights for televised combative sport events, such as boxing matches. States that compete with Texas for large events, such as championship boxing matches, cap their broadcast tax fees. The cap makes Texas much more attractive to promoters seeking locations for major boxing events.

"Boxing is flourishing in Texas. We have the number one boxing program in the nation," Sen. Lucio said. "This law will encourage that growth while improving our economic advantage over our competitor states."

SB 796 has passed both Chambers of the Legislature and will now be reviewed by Governor Rick Perry before becoming law.