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In a sense, Lou Neglia is karate-chopping his way through Albany’s red tape.
The famed Brooklyn martial arts star, event promoter and instructor is spearheading a new push to legalize mixed martial arts events like Ultimate Fighting in New York — where the sport is currently banned.
As this paper went to press, Neglia, who runs the Lou Neglia Martial Arts Academy at 365 Avenue U, was preparing a rally promoting the benefits of mixed martial arts (MMA) events at Madison Square Garden.
“That’s where I want to hold my first MMA show,” said Neglia, who has held several Ring Of Combat mixed martial arts events in New Jersey, where the events are legal.
Initially, Neglia and the Committee to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts in New York State were preparing a rally in Albany. Thousands of martial arts students — mostly children — were expected to attend the event, which coincided with Bruce Lee’s birthday.
Both Neglia and the Committee to Legalize Mixed Martial Arts believe that Ultimate Fighting events would be a big financial boon to New York.
A study commissioned by the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) revealed a UFC event at Madison Square Garden would generate $11.5 million in economic activity and $400,000 in tax revenue for New York City. It would also create $555,000 in tax revenue for New York State.
A similar event in Buffalo would generate $5.3 million in economic activities, the group said, adding that all major cities in New York could benefit from these events.
Currently 36 states allow professional martial-arts matches, as well as Washington D.C. and two Native American reserves.
Mixed martial arts has fans both in the Assembly and the State Senate, which are both mulling over bills to legalize the sport.
Bay Ridge State Senator Marty Golden is one of the key supporters of the bill.
“I think (mixed martial arts) would be a great way to make money for this state,” he said. “People are watching mixed martial arts events more so today than ever.”
“It [UFC] will increase revenue not only for taxes but for small business,” he said. “When you have those types of venues draw people from around the country, they enhance the mom and pop stores around it, and ticket sales, and its all good for us.”
Critics say that blood sports like Ultimate Fighting have no place in New York or Brooklyn.
“While I want to hear all of the different perspectives, my first response is as a parent,” said Park Slope City Councilman Bill de Blasio. “I’m troubled by the message ultimate fighting sends. Things in this world are pretty violent already and ultimate fighting teaches kids to be even more violent.”
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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