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Message from the Commission Chair

Like a competitor who has been fighting with one hand tied behind their back and finally been released, this is the first year in three where the commission’s activities have returned to pre- COVID levels. As a result, we saw an increase in contest permits and competitor registrations, both from locals and participants from out of state and overseas. As well as this being a signal of a return to form, it has been valuable for local competitors to have fresh and new talent to compete against. 

Activities across the board have shown the industry is firmly back on its feet and feeling energised. 

Our commission members officiated at February’s UFC 284, which took place at RAC Arena and attracted nearly 9,000 ticketholders from outside WA. The influx of visitors provided a huge boost to local tourism and hospitality businesses, injecting millions of dollars into the WA economy. The commission worked in partnership with Tourism WA and other government departments to facilitate the event. It is testament to the commission’s standing and high level of professionalism that they were involved in an event of this calibre.

The pay-per-view event coverage was streamed around the world with an estimated 700,000 subscriptions bought, making it a wonderful showcase for WA. This was bolstered by the UFC athletes and commentators who visited iconic local spots, like Rottnest and the Swan Valley, sharing their experiences with more than 10 million social media followers. 

Events like this have a hugely positive flow-on effect for our industry, whether it’s more people being aware of combat sports, people taking up a sport for the first time or being inspired to live out their dreams. It’s hugely heartening that the event also set the record for the highest number of Australian UFC athletes on one card. WA was represented by Perth athlete, UFC welterweight Jack Della Maddalena, who featured on the main card and won his bout, as well as being awarded Performance of the Night.

The long awaited and much welcomed review of the legislation which governs our activities – Combat Sports Act 1987 and Combat Sports Regulations 2004 – is well underway. We’ve finished our consultation and drafting instructions for the Parliamentary Counsel’s Office are the next step. 

Behind the scenes, we clarified how ringside photographs and videos can be taken at events, by creating a policy to guide everyone, plus we have also clarified the role of medical practitioners through the production of a guide to their functions and responsibilities.

Another change has been the lowering of the age of Seconds during competitions, which allows younger people to become familiar with the workings of combats sports, among other benefits.

I’m pleased the commission has continued its collaboration with Edith Cowan University, facilitating research into injuries and illnesses in the industry. We hope this eventually provides us with valuable information to help and inform not only WA competitors, but the industry nationally. 

There have been no commission member changes or staff movements over the past year, testament to the strong team we continue to build to best serve the combat sports community. I particularly want to thank my fellow commission Members for their hard work over the last year and their faith, patience and enthusiasm over the last three as we tackled the impact of the global pandemic. 

Thank you to the Hon. David Templeman with whom we continue to build a strong relationship as Minister for Sport and Recreation. We thank him, his advisors and his office for their support, particularly in relation to our legislative review.

Executive Officer Antoni Grover and his dedicated team continue to skilfully employ the Strategic Plan 2021 – 2025 to keep the commission moving forward, focused and on task. He has been the driver and champion of many of our achievements over the last 12 months, for which I thank him. 

The Combat Sports Industry has fought hard over the last few years to remain positive and push forward with their activities, despite the necessary restrictions. This year it paid off. The freedom and spirit of this return has been invigorating both for the commission and the industry. We look forward to more of it.

Hon. Bob Kucera APM JP
Commission Chair

Page reviewed 11 September 2023