Arkansas House member wants amateur boxing ban after death - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Arkansas House member wants amateur boxing ban after death

TEXARKANA, Ark. (AP) - A leader in the Arkansas House wants to ban amateur boxing competitions like the traveling Toughman Contest, after the death of a 23-year-old who took part in an event in Texarkana.

Representative Steve Harrelson, a Texarkana Democrat, says he will look at a ban similar to one passed in Texas in 2005. Texas outlaws elimination fighting tournaments, which state officials said often pitted skilled fighters against amateurs with little or no training and provided them with insufficient medical or physician checkups.

Harrellson told Texarkana radio station KTXK that he was not surprised by the ring fatality and that he has wondered how the fights have remained legal.

Harrelson said he is considering introducing a bill in the 2009 regular session to ban the competitions. He said he's heard from numerous constituents with concerns about the fights.

Brandon Twitchell of Elkhart, Texas, fought two nights in the annual contest when it stopped in Texarkana this month. He was taken from the contest site by ambulance to the hospital, where doctors discovered he had suffered brain injuries. Twitchell had been in critical condition and on life support. He died February 14th.

The Original Toughman Contest is held in 44 states and abroad, with fighters divided by weight categories and experience. Fighters undergo pre-fight physicals and medical staff is posted ringside during the event.

Contest spokeswoman Lydia Robertson has said the dangers of boxing are explained to contestants in detail. Fighters also must sign a release form saying they understand they are participating in a dangerous event.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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