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S.C. Nears Boxer Licensing Regs

February 29, 2000

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) _ South Carolina’s Athletic Commission moved closer Monday to strengthening state laws regarding boxer licensing.

The proposed changes, which must be approved by the state Legislature before they become law, require boxers who want to fight in South Carolina to undergo a series of neurological tests 30 days or less before a bout and be cleared to fight by a South Carolina doctor.

The changes are in reaction to the death of junior middleweight Stephan Johnson on Dec. 5. Johnson had been cleared to fight in South Carolina although he was on medical restrictions in Canada. The boxer later died after a fight in New Jersey.

``We got a lot accomplished today,″ chairman John ``Robbie″ Robertson said Monday after the commission went through the proposed legislation with its lawyer and made some minor adjustments.

``As they are proposed right now, they will be among the most stringent in the nation.″

South Carolina also would have to honor medical suspensions in other countries, not just the United States. The proposals would outlaw ``toughman″ or ``ultimate″ fighting events.

Johnson died from injuries suffered in a Nov. 20 fight in Atlantic City, N.J. He went into a coma after his 10th-round knockout and never regained consciousness.

Johnson fought in South Carolina in August even though he was medically suspended after being knocked out April 14 in Toronto.

Labor, Licensing and Regulations lawyers suggested having at least two doctors on the seven-member athletic commission. But Robertson said he was concerned that doctors with busy schedules would not be able to make many commission meetings.

He said he would rather have two doctors as non-voting members of the commission ``as someone for advice when we need it.″

Only three commission members attended Monday’s meeting. Two seats on the board are vacant and two members had excused absences.

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