The Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports (ABC), the organization that oversees athletic commissions in North America and beyond, is going to be giving fighters a seat at the table for the first time.
The ABC is starting an athlete’s voice committee, which will have seven retired fighters as members, to go along with other committees for medical, rules regulations, appeals and officials, ABC president Mike Mazzulli told ESPN on Wednesday.
ABC committees meet regularly via phone or video call to discuss current events in combat sports. Committee decisions are not binding but are brought before the full ABC body and voted on at the organization’s annual summer meeting.
UFC legend Randy Couture, former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton and Ultimate Fighter veteran Din Thomas will be the first three fighters on the athlete’s voice committee, per Mazzulli. New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) executive director Kim Sumbler will chair the committee, which has the goal of building a bridge between fighters and regulators, allowing fighters to voice concerns about regulation and creating an opportunity for regulators to educate fighters more about how regulatory processes work.
The committee plans to discuss subjects like judging and refereeing, appeal rights with commissions, workshops on contractual literacy and regulatory rights regarding managers and representation.
“This is ground-breaking for the industry,” Sumbler said in a statement. “Regulators and athletes working hand in hand for the betterment of combat sports. A great opportunity for athletes to have a meaningful and organized voice in their own sport.”
In addition to Sumbler and the seven fighters, there will be five volunteer ABC members on the committee: attorney Erik Magraken of the rules and regulations committee, boxing referee Jack Reiss, Colorado Combative Sports executive director Tony Cummings, Wyoming Combat Sports commission executive director Nick Meeker and South Carolina State Athletic Commission administrator Jon Hollingsworth.
“I’m so proud to be a part of this historical moment for our community and I’m honored to help where I can,” Thomas said in a statement.
In the coming weeks, the ABC will be releasing a form on its website for athletes who would like to participate with the committee.
“The ABC hopes this committee will allow all fighters to understand the sport from a regulatory standpoint.” said Mazzulli, who is also the Mohegan Tribe (Connecticut) director of athletic regulation. “At every weigh-in I ask fighters questions relating to rules and regulations, and it is apparent to me a majority of combative participants do not have clear knowledge of the rules and scoring criteria. This committee will also allow fighters a voice at the table.”