Ontario Athletic Commission: The Human Element

It is simple to research and voice your opinions on anything when presenting a story to the public. Digging through the internet and finding facts  about anything may be time consuming, but it is nothing more than a matter of reading what is already there. But in a situation such as this, it is the voices of those affected that carry the most weight. The fighters, the promoters, the trainers, anyone involved in the current issues involving the OAC. Hearing from them and what has happened to them due to the OAC might be the most factual piece of evidence that can be presented.

I was able to contact several involved in the Ontario combat sports world, and was also able to secure quotes from a few. Some were hesitant to speak for the possible fear of repercussion from the OAC, and quite frankly, this is understandable. Others simply just did not to become involved with this issue, and again, this is understandable. Not speaking up as someone affected does not mean you do not care about what is going on. But for the few that did share their words with me for this piece, I can only say thank you:

Lyndon Whitlock, on the OAC and cancellation of Global Warriors 3:

It’s an absolute embarrassment. Us fighters, and promoters, are so passionate about this sport and it’s heartbreaking that one man stands in our way of growing this sport. Ken shows no empathy in losing the promoter $40 000, and couldn’t care less that I’ve lost the opportunity to do my job get paid and pay my bills.

Jesse Gross, on the OAC:

Ken (Hayashi) has ruined professional MMA for Ontario. He’s a selfish old man, and it’s time for him to either step down, or be cast aside. We need a OAC that actually wants to work with promoters and grow our sport in our backyard

Scott Hudson, a personal affect of the OAC on his career:

I was scheduled to fight Tiago Tavares on Substance Cage Combat in Toronto in May of 2014. Two weeks prior to that event was a scheduled Bellator event in windsor Ontario. Bellator had a few fights fall through last minute so they turned to some local match makers, who suggested they take myself and tTago from the SCC card and shuffle it onto the Bellator card. SCC, Tiago and I all agreed on the move, and with it would come a substantial raise. From $500+500 at SCC to $4000+4000 at bellator. The Bellator event was scheduled for Friday night and we confirmed the change on that Tuesday. By Wednesday we were told that the fight was off because Tiago had been inactive for a couple years and i was coming of a recent ko win. Despite the fact that at the time my record was 2-2 and tiago was 2-1…… thats right, Tiago actually had a better record than me and still Ken (Hayashi) was not willing to sanction the fight. Whats even more bizarre is that the bout lineup for SCC had been submitted in April, and there didn’t seem to be problem with the matchup. That, or he never even bothered to look it over.

Alex Gasson:

This venture (Global Warriors 3) had been a work in progress dating back to early February. Most recently I finished taking a sport and event marketing program with the goal to bring proper marketing, sponsorship and event management to our industry. Reason I mention that is because my company, Pecker’d Promotions, Management and Consulting, was contracted to run the marketing, lead up strategy, event operations and strategy consulting for GW3. I’ve been excited implemented what I’ve learned from my course, being a promoter and former professional fighter. This has been a great opportunity to build credibility within the industry marketing events and developing strong relationships with larger brands for sponsorships and support. Present and future.

Now, I’m making phone calls to tell them the show has been cancelled (after I’ve already had to tell them about the show being moved to another date). Luckily the majority of them understand but we all feel the embarrassment caused because of this.

Everyone needs to take responsibility for their actions and the commission is no different. I didn’t have direct contact with the commission but I did do my best to build a strategy behind the sponsorship and marketing. This week was the finale. The countdown to months and months, hundreds of hours of preparation all to be unplugged. It’s exhausting.

I know that Ken is a very passive aggressive man with a skill to keep his job by strategically positioning good people in the wrong when necessary. But not because I know him, in fact I don’t think we’ve spoke more than three or four sentences together. He does know who I am as I spearheaded amateur mma and made a stink about it back in the day. Got a petition signed Canada wide and staged a formal protest at 777 bay. I have chocolate kisses out on Valentine’s Day to ask the government to “have a heart” and allow us to keep building the sport and continue the passion

People want a commissioner who is strict but also has interest in the growth of the community. Interest in sitting down to listen to ideas and influencers that are on the front lines owning and running gyms, working with athletes and developing the next GSP’S or Mohammed Ali’s. I commend the OAC for having high policy for medical and awareness but to arbitrarily create rules with no justification except by his own, that’s wrong.

Scott Macovi, on OAC practices:

As a fighter, manager and gym owner, I’ve dealt with Ken (Hayashi) on several levels. It is hard to work with the OAC sometimes, as the rules of the game change depending on his mood. One day you can submit needed medicals and bloodwork via fax, and the next, Hayashi wants them hand delivered. On a few occasions, the cost of holding an event has changed, based on how much money the promotion has in the bank for the show. The cost of a MMA license in Ontario is $60, but the time of the license has always been an issue. Most provinces and states allow the license to run for one year on the day it was obtained, but in Ontario, it is valid for that year only. Say I apply and receive a license to fight on December 3rd, that license will expire on January 1st, rather than December 3rd the following year. It is things such as this that make it hard for all involved. Hard to play the game when the rules are never the same.

In the interest of fairness to all involved, I reached out to the OAC for answers to three questions. Here are said questions and the answers given:

1: The first and most obvious question. Many in the Ontario MMA and boxing community feel like the Ontario Athletic Commission is set on trying to slow the growth of both sports with unrealistic regulations and inflated costs, with most of the frustration aimed at Mr. Ken Hayashi. Is there anything to be said to shoot down these accusations, or an explanation as to why these situations seem to occur frequently, ie events cancelled, fees raised for events, etc?

OAC: The government’s priority in regulating professional combative sports events is to ensure the health and safety of participants. The ministry is confident that the Office of the Athletics Commissioner is effective in achieving that objective and in preserving the integrity of combative sports, providing a fair and transparent licensing process and providing the public access to quality combative sport events.

2: There have been talk for some time about not only Mr. Hayashi stepping down from his position, but also that his replacement, current Ministry of Consumer affairs investigator John Biggerstaff, has been named. This was reported to come into effect in December of 2015, but it does not appear to be the case at the moment. Is there any truth to Mr. Hayashi’s resignation or retirement and to Mr. Biggerstaff’s appointment?

OAC: Ontario’s Athletics Commissioner remains committed to ensuring professional combative sports are conducted in a manner that ensures the safety and wellbeing of participants, preserves the integrity of the sports, provides fair and equal opportunities for promoters, and gives the public access to quality combative sport events.

3: The recent event that has sparked the frustration of many is the cancellation of Global Warriors Fighting Championship’s June 24th event. They are expected to take a loss of at least $40000 due to this cancellation, and many cannot understand why this event was scrapped by the OAC. Is there any insight that can be given as to the Commission’s decision, and why it appears that it was the events matchup that led to the cancellation?

OAC: On June 20, 2016, the license for the Global Warriors mixed martial arts event scheduled for June 24, 2016 was cancelled.  This was a mutually agreed upon decision between the Office of the Athletics Commissioner (OAC) and the promoter of the event. Despite the best efforts of the promoter, as of June 20, 2016, the OAC was only in a position to approve a maximum of four of the eight bouts proposed for the event.

Ensuring opponents are fairly matched and will result in competitive contests and is critical to the health and safety of the athletes. It is also an important aspect of maintaining the integrity of professional combative sport. Only two of the eight proposed bouts were denied sanctioning due to significant differences in the activity levels of the athletes.  For example, in one of the proposed bouts, an athlete had not competed in six years was proposed to face an athlete that had competed seven times in that period; and in the other, an athlete who had not competed in four years was proposed to face someone who had completed six times in that period. The OAC considered this information in the decision to deny sanctioning the bouts. Of the remaining two bouts, there was an outstanding athlete’s licensing application and the other required confirmation of an athlete’s amateur record.  No replacement bouts were presented to the OAC for consideration.

The OAC’s top priority in regulating professional combative sport events is to protect the health and safety of athletes.  Key policies and procedures are in place to protect the athletes.  These include regulatory medical testing requirements and rigorous match approvals, to ensure fair and competitive contests.   

While these answers are far from anything complete or specific to the question, a general comment should not be taken as an attempt to deceive. One can assume it is, but sometimes, the answers we want cannot be given, or simply wont be given just because we want them.

Before the completion of this, I would like to touch on one final matter. Due to the complex and serious nature of the situation, I decided to leave the gathering of facts and conclusions to all the readers on their own. This issue is simply known as “Twin Dragons”. A simple Google search for Twin Dragons MMA, Twin Dragons OAC, Twin Dragons Lawsuit, or similar search terms, should provide an abundance of information on the matter. Please take some time and read over the facts of this case and then form an opinion.

Over the past few days, we have explored several factors of the perceived incompetence of the OAC. From over regulated safety measures, hypocritical statement and comments, and blatant under regulated practices, the OAC has become a major thorn in the sides of the MMA world in Ontario. No one is asking for handouts for fighters or promoters here, no easy road just so they can succeed. It is the exact opposite. All involved understand the business side of the sport, and money will always be involved, as well as personal decisions due to appointed positions. But to use this position as Ken Hayashi does to run the OAC as his own private committee is something no athlete should have to deal with. Seeing how the OAC is run under the control of the provincial government, it should come as no surprise that corruption appears prominent and plentiful. But there is no excuse for this just because it happens in other facets of government.

Ontario based MMA fighters, as well as boxers, and promoters, are some of the hardest working in the business. To try and carry on despite the obvious bias presented by the OAC and Hayashi is a work ethic that all should praise them for. The OAC may not need a complete overhaul, and Hayashi may not need to be removed for things to get better, but as long as control is given to him to oversee all matters, the road appears to be a long one for all involved.

part 1: http://www.mmawreckage.com/2016/06/22/ontario-athletic-commission-change-is-needed/

part 2: http://www.mmawreckage.com/2016/06/24/ontario-athletic-commission-the-ugly-consequence-of-hypocrisy/

Jasyn Zangari

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