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Signs on U.S. 31 between Decatur and Hartselle promoting Extreme Cage Fighting at the Frontier Lounge on Friday.
Daily photo by John Godbey
Signs on U.S. 31 between Decatur and Hartselle promoting Extreme Cage Fighting at the Frontier Lounge on Friday.

An extreme Frontier
Cage fighting making debut in River City

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

Decatur, unlike city officials in Hartselle, is not currently challenging the legality of cage fighting.

That's why Hartselle businessman Robert Clairday is bringing his ring to the Frontier Lounge on U.S. 31 South.

To avoid violating fire and safety codes, Clairday said, he will have the Friday night event outside in the parking lot.

The decision to hold cage fighting outside came after the state fire marshal and Decatur Fire Marshal Darwin Clark inspected the lounge last week.

"This was part of my annual inspection of the building and had nothing to do with cage fighting," Clark said.

Regardless of whether cage fighting is inside the building, Clark said, lounge owner Jeff Hitt must make minor improvements such as re-certifying alarm and sprinkler systems, and removing extension cords.

Before Hitt can host cage fighting inside the lounge, Clark said, he has to file architectural drawings showing where the ring will be, egress and all safety features such as fire extinguishers and posted emergency exit plans.

"I met with the owner this morning (Monday) and he is aware of what has to be done," Clark said.

The Daily tried unsuccessfully to contact Hitt.

Seeking an opinion

Mayor Don Kyle said he learned about the cage fight in Decatur on Thursday while attending a meeting in Hartselle.

Kyle said he will wait to see what the attorney general tells Hartselle about the sport's legality.

After the Alabama Athletic Commission refused to tell Hartselle whether the sport is illegal, the city sent a letter to the attorney general for an opinion.

"I'd like to get the opinion as soon as possible," Kyle said. "I can't imagine something where people are beating up each other unsupervised being legal. But, we'll have to wait for the opinion."

The site of Friday's event is in Councilman Gary Hammon's District 3.

"I don't know if it's illegal, and I have not worried about it," Hammon said. "I'm going to let the Legal Department handle this, and I'm not going to get into it."

Kyle and Hammon said they had not received any complaints about cage fighting in the River City.

Signs in state rights of way on U.S. 31 are advertising the event. A spokesman with the Alabama Department of Transportation said it's illegal to place temporary signs in state rights of way and they will be removed.

Clairday said he hires people to put the signs out for $1 per sign, and they deny putting them in state rights of way.

He said someone who wants him out of business is apparently stealing the signs and putting them in illegal places.

Clairday, who works for the Department of Corrections, said he takes inmate work crews out to remove illegal signs.

"I know they are illegal, and I certainly would not have them put in the right of way," he said.

As for the future of cage fighting in Hartselle, Clairday said he has an event scheduled Sept. 22.

"But I expect Hartselle to find a way to shut me down," he said. "I've heard through the grapevine that they want me gone."

City officials deny his allegations, saying they only want to know if cage fighting is legal, and if so, is it subject to entertainment and amusement taxes.

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