By Della Hasselle
MANHATTAN — New York’s effort to legalize mixed martial arts bouts in the state took a giant step backward on Monday.
The violent and highly profitable sport was stripped out of the state budget by Assembly Democrats Monday, making it unlikely to reappear for approval before the bill is passed.
“The majority of voices who spoke about this issue in our conference were not supportive of approving it as part of the budget,” Assemblyman Steve Englebright, a Long Island Democrat and fight fan, told the New York Daily News.
Gov. David Paterson attempted to legalize the sport, saying it could rope in more than $2 million in sorely-needed tax revenue for New York State.
The legislation was approved in Senate by a 32-to-26 floor vote. Had it passed Assembly, New York would have been the 45th state to legalize the sport, according to Global Strategy Group, which sponsors the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Unlike boxing, ultimate fighting allows below-the-belt kicks, punches and choke holds, and uses lighter, less-padded gloves.
Opponents of the sport, like the New York State Catholic Conference, have previously compared the art to “humans fighting each other like murderous dogs.”
Madison Square Garden and the New York City Hotel Association have been outspoken supporters, the New York Post reported recently.
“We anxiously await the sanctioning of MMA in New York and feel it will be an outstanding addition to our calendar of events,” the Post quoted the president of MSG Sports, Scott O’Neil, as saying.