July| Vol. 22 No. 8.02 | Christian's Chronicles © 2015 – All rights reserved.
To all friends, fans, and competitors in MMA, I came across an interview of CM Punk, recently retired pro wrestler, which brings up some very interesting parallels to the MMA industry. The link is below.
Let me be clear. Punk does not discuss MMA in the interview, except for a brief discussion about a missed promotional opportunity and his non-competition agreement. He does talk about his contractual problems, and issues with his health & concussions that the ‘company’ addresses only as a publicity stunt, and not to take care of those in the trenches. It reminds me of the time I was trying to advocate for legislation banning certain contractual practices (the same way the Federal Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act works) in the MMA industry. Those efforts did not come to fruition, but I did offer my testimony, along with Frank Shamrock and others, in Sacramento at the Capitol in support of the legislation. Opposite me was none other than Ronda Rousey, Chuck Liddel, and other corporate sympathizers… 😉 The legislation did not pass, which may or may not have been linked to certain contributions by certain persons to certain politicians. I don’t know all the details, but there are some remaining archives here: fairness for fighters.
By the way, apparently there may have been some talk of Punk appearing in the Octagon. I’m not sure how likely that is, as I no longer really follow MMA or wrestling. I used to be quite the avid pro wrestling fan as a kid, and that is partly what motivated me to embark upon a career in MMA. Now, of course, those days are well behind me. But I find it interesting how many parallels there are for athletes in either sport (or sport-entertainment, or whatever they call pro wrestling nowadays).
Granted, one is scripted spectacle, and not a competitive sport, while the other is arguably the most raw, real, and toughest of sports known to man today. But they are both about one thing: entertainment. That is what sells tickets and puts the butts in the bleachers.
I am of the opinion that those who actually create the entertainment by putting their bodies on the line are the bosses, and promoters, managers, and everyone else who derives their income from the sweat and blood these men and women shed in the ring or cage, work for them.
But the industry has everyone, including the athletes themselves, fooled into thinking that things are the other way around. If you sign a contract with a promoter, you are made to think that you, as the athlete, work for the promoter (as independent contractor, to avoid an employer-employee relationship with all its statutory baggage). This is incorrect. The athletes create the product that is sold: they make the fight. If athletes had enough vision and perseverance to unite and form a professional association, much like the NFL and other professional sports, they would have a much stronger voice and more bargaining power.
I may be an idealist, but that’s my opinion. It will never happen as long as there is only one show in town, and athletes are presented with ‘take it or leave it’ contracts.
Anyway, below is CM Punk’s interview. See if you can identify any parallels with MMA among the host of issues Punk discusses regarding his ‘quitting’ the WWE (he was fired…).