Colosseum combat

FIGHTERS — Local fighter Nick Fox throws a punch at his opponent during a previous Colosseum Combat event hosted in Kokomo last year.

Originally planning to have a local show this month with or without fans, President and CEO Mark Slater was informed by the state that Colosseum Combat in Kokomo was not feasible for the time being due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Slater said he wasn’t just prolonging a show for no reason but that it was no possible in Indiana. Since he must have permission from Athletic Division of the Indiana Gaming Commission to host an event, Slater said there was no way he could host a show, even with restrictions.

“I have to have a permit through the state, and they have to sign off on the permit. They appoint the judges, the referees, the timekeeper. They’re at my event. I can’t just do one on a whim and rent a building and do it without the state’s approval. Right now they’ve made it clear they’re not going to issue an event permit. Until there’s an event permit issued, I can’t do an event … I don’t think a lot of people understand I have to wait on the nod from the state to do something,” Slater said.

In mid-July, Slater received an email vetoing any kind of Colosseum Combat event from the director of the Athletic Division of the Indiana Gaming Commission, hours before signing a lease on a building to host a fight. Due to public health considerations and budget concerns, a show could not be hosted with or without fans, according to Athletic Division Director Joanna Holland.

Slater had a plan-B in mind to switch the show to pay-per-view only. However, according to the Athletic Division of the Indiana Gaming Commission, it was not possible since the state cannot collect 5 percent of the show’s earnings by pay-per-view.

“I tried to do anything I could do to make it able. ‘I’ll make an average of my tax bill that you guys get and just write you that so you don’t lose anything.’ Since it wasn’t in the law that way, they wouldn’t just kind of ‘gentlemen’s handshake’ when it comes to the government,” Slater said. “We’re kind of just at a standstill now until something changes or they change that wording, or it says the governor allows a little bit of a crowd.”

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Slater said he was not looking to bring a large crowd together unsafely in a confined area but was hoping to keep the fighters active and get new content out to fans since the last Colosseum Combat event was held in February.

Friends of Slater’s from Strikehard Productions, also a part of the B2 Digital, hosted a fight in Alabama late last month. The event had limited in-person attendance with pay-per-view available. Before coming to weigh-in, each fighter quarantined themselves to their hotel rooms and took COVID-19 tests. Slater said he would bring the same practices to Kokomo if he were able.

“There’s a way to do this safely we thin,k and we’ve tried it in other states. So we’re just hoping we get the opportunity to do it in Indiana,” Slater said.

There will be a Colosseum Combat event held in Michigan on Saturday, Dec. 5, where Slater will be traveling with some local fighters. He said he currently did not have any fighting events in Kokomo booked for next year and will not until restrictions allow.

“It would be silly to book a building for 1,300 people when right now I can’t even do one with zero people … That’s what’s rough. Michigan, I can do it. We can pull that off, but it’s still not three miles from my house where I’ve lived my whole life and where I’ve built this from the ground up. I’d still like to do them here. I’m hoping by February, maybe. I don’t know. It’s kind of scary. We’ll do what we got to do. If it’s Michigan in December, that’s what we’re going to go off,” Slater said.