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Hartselle council to discuss regulations for cage fighting

By Deangelo McDaniel · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you can’t define cage fighting, don’t feel badly. Neither can the City Council here.

That’s one of the reasons Hartselle scheduled a special work session Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. in City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

“We’re going to talk about what cage fighting is and how to regulate the sport,” Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

Cage fighting has been a controversial issue here since Councilman Bill Drake questioned the legality of the sport about three months ago.

Unable to give Drake an answer about whether the sport was legal, City Attorney Larry Madison suggested that Hartselle seek an attorney general’s opinion.

In a four-page opinion, the attorney general’s office said Alabama law does not regulate cage fighting. But that doesn’t mean Hartselle can’t regulate the event “to provide for the safety and health of the residents of the community,” Brenda Smith, assistant attorney general, wrote.

Smith said Hartselle also may require sponsors of cage fighting to buy a license, and the city can levy sales and use taxes on the events.

Before Hartselle sought an opinion, Robert Clairday, who has been putting on cage fighting in Hartselle for 25 years, argued that the sport is legal.

Clairday, who held a cage-fighting event at Celebration Arena in Priceville on Oct. 6, said he likely will not return to Hartselle. He said he’s looking to carry his ring to Huntsville, Decatur and Ardmore.

“They’ve cost me a lot of money and grief,” he said about the council. “They’ve had the fire marshal to look at every building where I have ever held an event. It’s been ignorance on the part of the mayor and council, and they had their 15 minutes of fame.”

City leaders denied allegations that they were trying to put Clairday out of business.

Regardless of what Clairday does, council members said they will move forward with adopting rules to regulate the sport.

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