Magazine article Newsweek

Brawling over Brawling

Magazine article Newsweek

Brawling over Brawling

Article excerpt

The rules are simple: two Fighters square off, battling bare-knuckled until one gives up, passes out, or the fight is stopped by a doctor, referee or cornerman. Biting and eye-gouging are off-limits, but otherwise anything goes--punching, kicking, kneeing, choking, whatever. It's known on popular pay-per-view broadcasts as "ultimate" or "extreme" fighting. Its detractors call it brutal--and so, for that matter, do its promoters.

But that's where the agreement ends. Officials across the country, led by Sen. John McCain of Arizona, are crusading against what some call human cockfights. Promoters insist that the fights are legitimate pro sporting events and are safer than they look--as safe as, say, football or hockey And, unlike in boxing, nobody's been paralyzed or killed. Not yet, anyway.

Last week the front lines were in New York City. Battlecade, Inc., a subsidiary of Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione's General Media Inc., planned the city's first extreme bout, to be held Saturday night in a state-owned armory. But the firm soon found itself ejected from the armory and scrambling to find a backup site. The Brooklyn D.A. warned would-be gladiators of assault prosecutions, and ultimately organizers opted to move the contest out of state. "We have tapes in which one contestant is downed on the mat and another kneels on top of him and either lacks him in the head or punches him until he's virtually knocked senseless," says State Sen. Roy Goodman, who persuaded the armory to cancel Battlecade's lease and is pushing laws. …

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