Labor leader McGowan backs ‘cages’ for MMA


In fighters’ corner... Labor Leader Mark McGowan, mixed martial arts exponents Jessica Napier and Ben Wynne, and Joondalup Labor candidate Emily Hamilton.
In fighters’ corner... Labor Leader Mark McGowan, mixed martial arts exponents Jessica Napier and Ben Wynne, and Joondalup Labor candidate Emily Hamilton.

A CLARKSON mixed martial arts (MMA) gym was the scene for a political points grab last week.

Labor Leader Mark McGowan was at Overwhelm Mixed Martial Arts on Tuesday to announce he would push for the removal of laws banning caged MMA bouts should the Opposition win power.

While the sport itself is legal in WA, fighters are not permitted to fight within a cage, or ‘octagon’ as it is known in the industry.

Exponents resent the use of the term cage because it makes it sound like the sport is fought within dangerous steel confines, which is not the case.

MORE: Morley MMA coach backs McGowan’s calls to lift cage fighting ban.

Competitions use roofless 180cm high boundaries made of safety mesh.

Under the current ban, competitors are restricted to battling in rings bounded by boxing ropes, which industry figureheads say makes the event more dangerous because combatants are at risk of falling out of the area.

Mr McGowan said Labor wanted to make the sport safer and reduce the likelihood of |serious injury.

“Western Australia is the only state that bans the octagon; industry experts have made it very clear to me the octagon-shaped barrier optimises safety,” he said. “Mixed martial arts is one of the fastest-growing sports in Australia and it takes place across Perth’s suburbs but it’s happening without the safety of an octagon safety barrier.”

Labor had previously supported the ban on the octagon.

The WA arm of the Australian Medical Association condemned the announcement.

The AMA strongly opposes the combat sport.

Association officials considered Labor’s announcement suspicious, calling on the party to reveal if it had received |donations from MMA backers.

Labor denied accepting |donations.