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Wrestler in critical condition after unlicensed fight

(KOKH)

An amateur wrestler is in critical condition after a wrestling event that in now under investigation.

“The first time we heard about it was when [FOX 25] called me this morning,” said Joe Miller, the administrator for the Oklahoma Athletic Commission.

The Athletic Commission licenses boxing and wrestling matches throughout the state. However, this event was not licensed. Miller began an investigation into the event Monday morning after an inquiry from FOX 25.

The wrestling match was held August 27 at “The Blue Note,” located just off 23rd and Robinson in Oklahoma City.

“Battle of the Legends, I believe it was called,” Miller said. “We got to looking further and recognized a few of the names that were working with the ‘Battle of the Legends.’”

Miller says the promoters of the “Battle of the Legends” knew about the state’s licensing requirements because the promoter had appeared before the commission in the past. Miller says in 2016 the same promoter had asked the athletic commission to allow their events to be unlicensed because they were simply theatrical presentations.

“They presented to us what they did and they thought it was more just stage entertainment,” Miller told FOX 25. “The way they presented it to us and their description of it was professional wrestling. We told them no they could not do these types of events without being licensed.”

“Battle of the Legends” went on without a state license. That meant there was no state inspector there to look at the stunts and ensure the performance and performers were safe.

Miller said it is not possible for his agency to monitor all of social media for unlicensed wrestling or boxing events. However, they do conduct investigations when they hear about underground events.

Miller told FOX 25 most tips come in from legitimate promoters who are trying to ensure the sport remains safe, even for scripted fights.

“The stunts and things they perform there are predetermined winners and predetermined losers,” Miller explained. “But the athleticism they have to display in there takes a pretty good athlete to be able to do it properly.”

The commission makes sure performers are physically fit to perform the stunts and check to make sure everyone involved has been through adequate training to pull off a safe event.

Miller says most wrestling promoters in the state do a good job and put on safe shows.

“Three of the five individuals that are listed as being the host of this event have been licensed by us in previous years as participants as professional wrestlers,” Miller said. “They knew better. They absolutely knew better.”

The Blue Note said they didn't have any comment on the event and they did not set it up.

The athletic commission is still investigating to find out how a wrestler ended up in critical condition.

The commission is limited in the authority it has to take action. They could pull the promoter’s ability to get licensed, which Miller said is not much of a deterrent for someone who is operating unlicensed events

However, Miller said his office will be working with the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office to pursue criminal charges in this case.

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