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Stephen Wilhite, left, fights Billy Harville in a lightweight title fight Saturday in Hartselle.
Daily photo by Jonathan Palmer
Stephen Wilhite, left, fights Billy Harville in a lightweight title fight Saturday in Hartselle.

Is cage fighting legal in Alabama?
Hartselle council considers
asking attorney general

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Unmoved by opposition from a local attorney, her client and about 75 supporters, Hartselle will apparently authorize the city attorney to seek an attorney general’s opinion about whether cage fighting is legal.

“He’s about to submit a letter based on a sport that he knows nothing about, and I have a problem with that,” attorney Catherine Halbrooks said at Monday’s council work session.

Halbrooks is representing Robert Clairday, a business owner who is sponsoring cage fighting in Hartselle and has been doing so for 25 years.

Halbrooks argued unsuccessfully Monday night that she and her client should have some input on the question City Attorney Larry Madison will submit to the attorney general.

Halbrooks said her client has a right to know what is being said about him.

“I believe what is being written can sway the opinion of the attorney general,” Halbrooks said.

Councilman Bill Drake said he raised the question of the sport’s legality after seeing signs at various places in Hartselle advertising it.

“My only question is, is this legal in the state of Alabama?” he said.

Drake brought his concerns to Mayor Dwight Tankersley, and the mayor sent the question to Madison.

“Larry said it may be illegal, and he recommended that we get an attorney general’s opinion,” Tankersley said.

The mayor said the resolution Hartselle will vote on Tuesday authorizes Madison to submit the question.

“I don’t know what will be in the question,” Tankersley told Halbrooks.

Halbrooks said she came to Monday’s meeting hoping to learn what is going to be in the question to the attorney general.

“We deserve to know what is going to be in the resolution,” she said.

At one point during the meeting, Councilman Mark Mizell talked about tabling the resolution until Halbrooks could review the question.

This is when the mayor said all the council is voting on is the resolution.

“All the resolution will do is ask him (Madison) to draft the letter,” Tankersley said. “In the past, we have not seen the letter.”

Halbrooks said she is certain that cage fighting is legal.

“If the attorney general says it’s legal will you adopt an ordinance saying it’s illegal?” Clairday asked.

“There’s never been any discussion about that,” Mizell answered.

Clairday said the event this past week brought about 1,100 people to Hartselle.

On Friday and Saturday, Clairday moved the event from his business location to a building at Sparkman and Chestnut streets.

City leaders said they did not receive any complaints about the event.

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