Governor Walker signs bill that calls for regulations on unarmed combat sports

MILWAUKEE -- Governor Scott Walker on Thursday, March 24th signed a bill into law that calls for regulations on unarmed combat sports, like kickboxing.

Fighters are required to have health insurance, judges and referees must be licensed, and doctors must be present at every match.

The bill was drafted following the 2014 death of Dennis Munson Jr.

He died after he was injured in an unregulated kickboxing match in Milwaukee.

Below is a statement from the Governor's Office on this bill signing:

Governor Scott Walker signed Senate Bill 599 into law Thursday at Pura Vida Jiu Jitsu in Milwaukee.  The bill relates to the regulation of unarmed combat sports.

“As we sign this bill into law, let us take a moment to remember Dennis Munson, Jr., who died in March 2014 due to injuries he sustained during an unregulated kickboxing match,” Governor Walker said.  “Senate Bill 599 protects Wisconsin kickboxers by requiring the same regulations currently in place for MMA fighting.  Our thanks to Dennis’s parents for advocating for this bill, Senator Cowles and Representative Kleefisch for authoring the bill, and the Legislature for passing it.”

Senate Bill 599 – as amended, substitutes “unarmed combat sports” for “mixed martial arts fighting” (MMA), so all unarmed combat sports are subject to the same laws applied to amateur and professional MMA fighting, including requiring contestants to have adequate health insurance, licensed referees and judges to be present at contests, and physicians to be present at each match as well as emergency medical services personnel.  The bill provides exemptions to the above laws for any karate contest, match, or exhibitions in which all contestants are amateurs and the match rules prohibit a contestant from striking an opponent’s head.  The bill also exempts any interscholastic or intercollegiate contest that does not allow strikes to the head.  Authored by Senator Robert Cowles (R – Green Bay) and Representative Joel Kleefisch (R – Oconomowoc), the bill passed the Senate on a voice vote and was concurred by the Assembly on a voice vote.  It is Act 277.