As the Chair of the Combat Sports Commission, I commend this 2019/20 Annual Report to you.
Combat sports in Western Australia has reaped the benefits as part of the ever-growing international trend and continued to grow in popularity, both from a competitor and a spectator perspective over the last year. Before COVID-19, registrations had been consistent and, behind the scenes, we’ve worked hard to support promotions and projects which contribute to industry improvements.
The Commission had a positive first half of the year but like the rest of the community was significantly affected by COVID-19. Not only were 15 events cancelled, but gyms and training venues were closed. Naturally, this has caused huge concern amongst the industry over their livelihood.
Throughout this period we tracked government updates closely and awaited news about restrictions being lifted in order for promotions to start again. Together we look forward to discovering the new normal. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to abide by the health and safety guidelines that have been issued.
We’ve worked hard to support promotions and projects which contribute to industry improvements.
As the new Commission Chair, I’d like to thank everyone who has welcomed me and generously offered help and advice. I’ve worked on numerous sports boards and am enjoying this latest challenge.
In the Commission offices Antoni Grover celebrated his 18 months as Executive Officer. He has proven highly effective and adept and I thank him for his guidance. He is ably supported by a team who continue to be enthusiastic, efficient and act with professionalism. Thanks to Tracey Roper, Erin Guthrie, Melissa Baker and James Harmer for their work over the last 12 months. Our team is a small one but diligently ensures the Commission complies with and enforces the Act’s requirements.
I’ve taken over from Cassandra Wright, who for the previous four years as Chair successfully led the Commission through some trying times. I commend her for her diligence, hard work and for leaving the Commission in a better position than it was on her arrival. We wish Cass the best and thank her.
This year, two of our long-standing commission members have departed. I’d like to acknowledge Derrick Chan and Dean Woodhams not only for their years of service but also for their tireless work, for sharing their knowledge of the industry and championing the work of the Commission. On behalf of the Commission, I wish them all the best. We welcome Ben Cant and Karim Girgis as members and look forward to their input and contribution.
Thank you to all external stakeholders, consultants and support functions within the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and the combat sports industry for the ongoing support and contribution.
Together we look forward to discovering the new normal. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to abide by the health and safety guidelines that have been issued.
To the Hon. Mick Murray and his staff; thank you for your help, advocacy and gracious assistance.
To those involved in the combat sports industry at every level, we have a challenging year ahead, but we are strong. When it counts, our training supports us and we know how to pivot, adapt and change direction. I believe we stand strong together and can work towards getting back to participating in the sports our members are so passionate about.
Hon. Bob Kucera APM JPCommission Chair
The structure of the Combat Sports Commission refers to its size and composition and is outlined in section 4(2) of the Combat Sports Act 1987 (the Act). Section 4(2) of the Act requires that the Commission maintain a mix of knowledge, skills and experience to ensure it can effectively regulate combat sports contests.
on the Commission until their nomination is withdrawn.
Chair of the Commission
Bob has had a life-long involvement with sport and served on numerous sporting administration boards nd committees. He most recently completed terms as the Chair and a director of Football West, a six-year term as Director and Commodore of Fremantle Sailing Club and Deputy Chair of Basketball WA for 10 years.
As a former Minister for Sport and Recreation in Western Australia (among a number of ministerial portfolios he held) and chair of the Australian Sports Ministerial Council, Bob brings a unique perspective on the relationship between the sport and all levels of government. He has a contemporary knowledge of the challenges facing sporting bodies having completed the Australian Institute of Company Directors Course in Sports Administration, with particular emphasis on issues such as gambling in sport, governance and the integrity of officials, administrators and contestants.
As a high-ranking police officer before entering politics, he received the Australian Police Medal (APM), the National Police Service Medal, the National Medal and the Western Australian Police Medal.
Brian was appointed to the Commission in June 2018. He’s an occupational and environmental physician and a public health physician with an interest in safety and risk management. He gained his Fellowships with the Australasian Faculties of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, is a Certified Professional of the Safety Institute of Australia and also an Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences at Curtin University.
Brian has extensive experience in health and wellbeing in the workplace, injury management and musculoskeletal medicine, pain medicine, health surveillance programs and their effectiveness, fitness for work with appropriate risk reviews and workplace risk and safety assessments.
Brian continues his role as a clinical consultant both privately and in the public system as well as on a medical board.
Marcus is a career police officer having served for more than 32 years in metropolitan and regional areas, predominantly on the frontline. He was appointed Officer in Charge of the WA Police Liquor Enforcement Unit in 2017 where one of his roles is to ensure the integrity of relevant industries through a stringent and ongoing probity process.
Marcus brings his experience and knowledge to the combat sports industry and is focused on ensuring those involved in the various professions are deemed to be fit and proper. On that basis, he provides valuable assistance and advice to the Commission during the assessment of permit applications.
Appointed to the Commission in December 2018, Pearl has been trained in martial arts since a young age and has extensive knowledge of all disciplines of combat sports. She has a legal background and brings extensive board experience to assist the Commission in discharging its operations effectively.
Pearl has a keen interest in ensuring the Commission develops policies and procedures which ensure contestants are healthy and safe and that there is a high degree of integrity in all contests.
New to the Commission in the last year, Ben has been a professional Muay Thai competitor since 2006. For a decade Ben has trained out of MMA and Muay Thai gyms gaining experience as a boxing and kickboxing coach, which has enabled him to fulfill the role as a second at promotions. He is registered with Muay Thai Australia as a judge, timekeeper and referee.
Glen was appointed to the Commission in December 2018 and has had extensive experience as a contestant, trainer and promoter within amateur and professional boxing ranks. He brings relevant and extensive industry knowledge to the Commission that is invaluable to deliberations.
Glen is focused on ensuring and growing a vibrant combat sports industry in Western Australia and is also keen to provide a safe and fair environment to nurture the next generation of elite athletes.
With an extensive career and experience as a competitor, promoter and contestant manager,Renée was appointed to the Commission in January 2017. She continues to develop her knowledge and skills in order to build ongoing relationships between contestants, industry participants and the Commission.
As the combat sports industry grows, Renée utilises her passion and knowledge of more than a decade to ensure all competitors have a healthy and safe environment to perform in.
Starting with the Commission in early 2020, Karim is an owner and director of a UFC gym which uses training but not heavy sparring or competing to embody a healthy respect for martial arts.
His range of professional experience includes sales, property development, local government processes and procedures and extensive background in business development and operations.
Karim has been training in mixed martial arts for almost 10 years and hopes to use his experience and long-standing passion to enhance the image of the sport, while at the same time facilitating industry expansion through education and professional development.
Jacqui was appointed to the Commission in February 2018 and is currently Manager, Governance and Industry Development at the department, having previously worked across many other areas including Organisational Development, Community Participation and High Performance.
In this role, Jacqui works with many State Sporting Associations and Industry Representative Organisations, their chief executive officers and boards, to support implementation of strong governance, leadership and management practices. She has a strong governance background through the Australian Institute of Company Directors course and the Governance Institute of Australia — Governance and Risk Management Certificate as well as sitting on various boards and nominations committees.
Through work in and out of government Jacqui contributes a strong working knowledge of community and elite level sport.
As part of its ongoing work to address rapid weight loss through dehydration by contestants, the Commission released a guide around the issue and in February 2020 released a Contestant Safety Strategy to Address Rapid Weight Loss (Weight Cutting) by Dehydration.
The Commission has put a focus on education and building awareness around the dangers of weight cutting as highlighted by the strategy as a way to contribute to a healthier and safer combat sports community in WA. Other aspects of the strategy were scheduled for a launch in June 2020 but due to the restriction on the number of people attending public gatherings, implementation has been delayed until contests recommence.
The Commission also provided information to West Australian Coroner’s Court in the inquest into the 2017 death of Jessica Jackson (Lindsay).
Access to the strategy and other important health and safety information can be found on the Commission’s web page.
The Commission launched an online education unit for combat sport registrants in WA. It provides contestants and industry participants with essential information for Commission registration and participating in combat sports.
From 1 January 2020, all new and renewing registrants are required to complete the online education unit as a condition of registration.
The Commission also encourages existing registrants to complete the unit as a matter of best practice, to mentor and assist new registrants and continue to promote health and safety in the community. Existing registrants who complete the unit won’t be required to complete it again when next renewing their registration.
We encourage you to prepare well, perform better! Access the online education unit.
The Industry Development Series is part of the Commission’s commitment to ongoing training and development. To complement other work, the 2020 event focussed on healthier and safer contestant preparation and featured presentations by The Fight Dietician Jordan Sullivan and Edith Cowan University lecturer on exercise physiology Dr Oliver Barley. They discussed using nutrition and training to make weight rather than weight cutting by dehydration and the decreased aerobic and anerobic performance
from weight cutting by dehydration. The event was well attended and the feedback strong about the information being useful and usable.
From 1 July 2019, Seconds were required to be registered. The role of the second is to support the trainer in the contestant’s corner and their registration further ensures the integrity of contests.
Under Combat Sports Regulations 2004 the Commission proposed an expansion to the MMA weight class table, taking it from eight to 14 classes in order to provide greater choices for athletes looking to find a safe weight class. The proposed changes would reflect the MMA weight classes of the Association of Boxing Commissions and Combative Sports Unified Rules of MMA (ABC Unified Rules). Local feedback was sought and changes will come into play in the second half of 2020.
In November the Commission released a position statement to clearly delineate the responsibility of the signing of contestant wraps and gloves at Commission-sanctioned events. It explained the responsibilities of the permit holder, contestant, head referee and Commission representative in the bandaging, taping and signing of contestant’s wraps and gloves.
From September 2019 there were changes to the padding requirements for Muay Thai, kickboxing and MMA. The changes were in Muay Thai with the removal of chest padding for those 18 and over and in MMA, increased padding was introduced for the first six contests. Padding for junior contestants in Muay Thai and kickboxing remains the same.
The Commission approved 23 contests in 2019/20 across all disciplines including boxing, mixed martial arts and Muay Thai. Between 21 March and 30 June 2020, 15 contests were cancelled due to COVID-19.
A number of breaches of the Act and the Regulations occurred this financial year, however, the Commission is pleased to see that the number of breaches remained relatively low.
The Commission continued to maintain a database of reportable injuries suffered by contestants. Reportable injuries are defined as any injury sustained during a contest that is recorded on the Post Contest Medical Examination Form and required treatment from the ringside medical practitioner or follow up treatment after the contest.
Of the 600 contestants participating in the 23 contests directly overseen by the Commission in 2019/20, there were 85 reportable injuries. This equates to 14.16% of contestants suffering an injury during a contest and is a 5.91% increase from 2018/19.
Further analysis of those 85 reportable injuries shows 17 mandatory medical suspensions were issued, nine concussions, 30 lacerations requiring steri-strips, glue or sutures, six dislocations, breaks or referrals for x-rays and 40 miscellaneous injuries ranging from bruises and sprains to strains.
The Commission provided the industry with a variety of information over the last year, including information on proposed contest dates, current projects, opportunities for engagement and policies.
We have continued to use Facebook as a key stakeholder engagement tool. It’s used to share important information, messages and policies with the industry and community. Like our page to connect with the Commission and the combat sports community: @combatsportscommissionwa
The commission actively utilises MailChimp for global emails and the website as platforms to communicate regularly with the industry.
Our recently introduced tagline “prepare well, perform better” has been well received and can be seen on new branded documents. This tagline talks to the Commission’s view on the dangerous practice of weight cutting.
The Commission worked on the development of a new online registration and promotion application portal and generally increasing its online presence. The new online portal provides a new streamlined process for all registrations, permit applications and submission of key documents such as certificates of fitness and serology reports. Registrants will be able to view and update personal details, view their fight records and the expiry dates of their registration, certificate of fitness and serology. Promoters will be able to lodge part 1 and part 2 promotion permits and update fight cards as changes occur. Training opportunities for all users are being planned.
Without the support of the Combat Sports Commission’s major partners, a great deal of the Commission’s work would not be possible. The contribution of these partners and supporters is gratefully acknowledged:
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