Bloody Elbow's Brent Brookhouse tells the story of how he has gone from critic of the Michigan State Athletic Commission to being invited to advise the Governor's office on appointments.
Being a Michigan resident, it has bothered me deeply that our state combat commission has been well behind the times for years. Michigan was one of the last states to legalize professional MMA and, be it through ignorance, budgetary issues or a lack of true interest on the commission's part, that regulation hasn't exactly been seen as particularly respectable.
For what it's worth, things haven't been much better on the boxing side. The state famous for Stanley Ketchel, Joe Louis, Tommy Hearns, Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and many others has been lacking major fights for years and years.
In 2011 the owners of the Pontiac Silverdome managed to put together a $600,000 site fee to lure a fight between Devon Alexander and Timothy Bradley in what was a deeply meaningful boxing match that aired on HBO. Despite an announced attendance of over 6,000, there were rumors that the actual paid attendance numbered in the hundreds. It was a black eye for the state. Things didn't get much better when the UFC gave promoting in Michigan a try, only to have a fight end early when the timekeeper failed to do his job. The fight would have ended by submission had he allowed the round to run it's full course, instead it became desperately boring over the final two rounds and a fighter was fired by the promotion as a consequence of the lack of action. To make matters worse, a fighter failed his drug test on the card, something that the commission never made public until I became aware and filed a freedom of information act to get the documents and make the situation public.
From safety concerns to ineptitude, I've been writing about Michigan's failures as a commission for years. When it wasn't a riot taking place in a poorly overseen event it was Michigan failing to turn in results and suspension data, as well as ignoring suspensions from other state athletic commissions, culminating in the Association of Boxing Commissions sending a letter to their members informing them to no longer recognize fights in the state or license fighters with a Michigan address.
Earlier this week, I was given a call by the office of the Governor and spoke to the men who are in charge of filling several openings on the commission as eight different members will have their terms expire in roughly six weeks. Because of the attention I have paid to the status of boxing and MMA in the state, and the lengths to which I've gone to express that things need to change in Michigan, I have been asked to take part in reviewing and recommending members for appointment. It's a great honor and something that only is happening because of my convictions about making things better in my state and using the platform given to exposeissues. Now, it's my turn to play a role in not just talking about what is wrong, but hopefully being able to take steps in making sure that things are done right going forward.