RCMP in Vernon told city council there is no ongoing concern that professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fights will bring organized crime to the city.
It’s a confirmation that supporters hope will help lift both a ban on professional fights in Vernon and any lingering stigma associated with the sport.
Vernon’s city council moved forward this week on lifting a nearly five-year-old ban on professional MMA events in the city.
Council agreed this week that a bylaw should be drafted to end Vernon’s ban.
Professional MMA events were originally banned in Vernon in 2014 over concerns that organized crime was connected to putting on events.
It made the move after hearing from the head of Vernon’s RCMP detachment.
“I do not have any issue with the events specifically bringing organized crime into the city,” wrote Supt. Shawna Baher in a statement to council.
“As with any event that serves alcohol, I would be more concerned with the behaviour of individuals within the audience attempting to emulate what they observed during and after the event.”
Baher suggested RCMP officers should be on hand at any professional MMA fights.
The owner of a Vernon MMA gym is happy to see council move to lift the ban.
“It is good for the community. It shows that city council is moving forward on things,” said Unity MMA owner Raja Kler.
Kler hopes lifting the ban will also lift any lingering negative perceptions associated with the sport.
While he has no immediate plans to organize MMA events in Vernon, Kler feels confident local MMA athletes will eventually be competing in their hometown.