In our efforts to spread awareness about the current fight to legalize mixed martial arts in New York State, we’ve wasted a lot of energy shaking our fists at the opposition. So let’s all take a deep breath and keep in mind one thing — Assemblyman Bob Reilly is just one man, with one vote. Luckily, there are reasonable men and women on the Assembly Committee for Tourism, Arts and Sports Development, who have a different idea about what’s best for New York and its athletes.
One of those men is Jonathan Bing. Representing New York’s 73rd Assembly District since 2002, Bing is a co-sponsor of the bill to regulate our sport in the Empire State. Though his work in the State Assembly has included everything from organizing free flu shots for seniors and dental exams for children, to helping 9/11 rescue and clean-up workers attain workman’s compensation benefits, he is now at the forefront of the movement to lift NY’s outdated 12-year-old ban on MMA. We recently caught up with Assemblyman Bing to discuss how MMA would help New York, the arguments of its critics, and when MMA could finally come to Madison Square Garden.
CAGEPOTATO.COM: What initially drew you to the MMA legalization issue?
JONATHAN BING: As a member of the Assembly Tourism Committee, this issue has been before the committee for about a year now, and due to my membership on that committee and my interest in tourism and cultural issues, I became involved.
Had you been a fan of the sport before, or at least aware of it?
I’ve been aware of it. I’m not particularly a fan of the sport, but I’m a fan of increasing revenue to the state of New York, and I’m a fan of high-quality athletics. It’s not really something that I personally would order a pay-per-view for, but I appreciate what it would mean to the state in terms of revenue, and I appreciate the quality of the athletes participating in it.
Why is it a good time to finally lift the ban on MMA in New York?
Well, it’s something that pretty much every state with an athletic commission has approved, so we know it’s been working in other states, and we know how successful it’s been in terms of raising revenue. We’re in a desperate fiscal time right now where we’re looking for any way possible to raise revenue in New York State, and this would provide perhaps millions of dollars if we were to allow these competitions.
Assemblyman Bob Reilly has been very vocal about his opposition to your bill. Have you had any personal discussions with him about it?