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Hartselle agrees to seek cage fighting opinion

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Prize fighting is illegal in Alabama, city attorney Larry Madison said Tuesday.

Mutual combat is also illegal, he said.

"You can't consent to have yourself assaulted," the attorney said.

Those are two of the reasons Madison advised city leaders to move ahead with seeking an attorney general's opinion on the legality of cage fighting.

But before he seeks an opinion, Madison said, he will submit the question to the Alabama Athletic Commission.

"If they say it's legal, then we want go to the attorney general," Madison said at Tuesday's council meeting. "I should have an answer from them by Friday."

A unanimous council agreed with its attorney and authorized him by resolution to seek the opinion.

In addition to asking the attorney general if cage fighting is legal, Hartselle wants to know if the city can "lawfully license such activities" and, if so, tax the revenues that the event generates.

Business owner Robert Clairday, who has been holding cage fighting in Hartselle for about 25 years, was at Tuesday's meeting. He sat silently with his attorney, Catherine Halbrooks, as Madison advised the council about what to do.

Clairday and Halbrooks addressed the council after it passed the resolution.

Halbrooks expressed her concerns about the city's action. She accused the council of seeking an opinion about a sport that city leaders know nothing about. Halbrooks requested that the city send her a copy of the letters it sends to the attorney general.

"It's a public record," Madison told Halbrooks.

"You know my fax number," she responded.

Madison said there are other issues that the council should be concerned about. He said the activity draws large crowds to Hartselle, and that raises the issue of police control.

Madison suggested that Hartselle might consider an amusement tax to cover the cost of the city providing security and crowd control.

Clairday said Tuesday was the first time he had heard about a tax.

"Now, I see this is about the almighty dollar," he said. "I hear you now."

During an exchange with Clairday, Madison said the council has not said anything to him about taxes.

"All I know is public fighting is illegal and public fighting for money is certainly illegal," Madison said.

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