Could the regulation of boxing prove to be the model for MMA?

Professor Jack Anderson, a Law Lecturer in Queens University chats to Off The Ball

Could the regulation of boxing prove to be the model for MMA?

©INPHO/Ryan Byrne

The death of MMA fighter Joao Carvalho following an event in Dublin has led to discussions about the need to regulate mixed-martial arts in Ireland. 

But how would that occur? On tonight's Off The Ball, Professor Jack Anderson, a Law Lecturer in Queens University Belfast, joined us to talk about the complexities of doing just that.

Given the existence of private commercial operators, Anderson says it means it remains a "grey area" and touched on some of the historical legal remits of fighting sports.

"The problem with it is it's direct intentional infliction of violence and a lot of times towards the head area. Criminal law has a big problem with that. The law in general has a big problem with that," he said.

"So you've got that legal background and the only reason that professional boxing is legal in the UK and Ireland is an old historical exemption based on regulation.

"But when you're dealing with dangerous sports - and there's no question that MMA is a dangerous sport - you have to regulate properly and that regulation will demand things of the sport. So boxing for example, if you look at the original regulations which is the Queensbury Rules, it's pretty rough and ready." 

Regulation, as Anderson, explained is about protecting the athletes as well as ensuring proper refereeing and medical standards, although the main problem could well be holding the governing bodies to account.