7-13-2000. . .
The POLITICAL Spoils In Australia!
Well if you've been following our news, you obviously noticed that this post about the big Australia Dual World IKF Title Event is a bit late. However, there's a good reason for it. Over the last couple of weeks, our legal team here at the IKF along with several of our International Associates have been checking out the many different stories, accusations, laws, regulations, history of events etc. that we attained while down under and reviewing this information in regards to why such a big event NEVER HAPPENED... Yes... NEVER HAPPENED...
What we discovered from our evidence we've attained is that there is a lot more to this event than meets the eye. It appears now that there's about to be a bigger fight event in New South Wales Australia than the one originally planned but this big fight won't be in a boxing ring. This one will be in a courtroom with the New South Wales Boxing Authority (NSWBA) as the Main Event. Yes, there were other factors that lead up to this event being cancelled (Which the IKF is investigating between the actual promoters and the event coordinator) but when you take the time to research all the problems that occurred leading up to it and trace them all back to the beginning, you would find that it all comes down to 1 person in the NSWBA that had a personal vendetta against someone else and he went out of his way to put a stop to this event.
For legal purposes, we cannot disclose the NSWBA individuals name because after discussing some of his actions with other authorities in Australia about what all this individual did to put a stop to this event, the person in question may face criminal charges as well. so we know this angers some of you readers, but we need to follow our legal advice here. However for those of you who were there or directly affected by this event being cancelled all know exactly who we're speaking of. Also for legal reasons related to the upcoming court battle, we cannot mention the name of the individual associated with this promotion who was personally targeted by this member of the NSWBA, but again, if you were there, you know this person as well. So, in knowing all of this, we can continue with a story that will make some of you think we're in the 17 or 1800's as far as laws of Equal Rights" go.
Were sure many of you readers don't know the main focus of exactly why the Australia Event was cancelled and the problems (Political) we've had there with the last 3 events so let us explain more. Were sure you want to know what we mean by "a story that will make some of you think we're in the 17 or 1800's as far as laws of Equal Rights" go" so lets start there. The equal rights we speak of are "Women's Rights!" It seems that in NSW Australia, women DO NOT have equal rights when it comes to Ring Sport Fighting. This was an issue we faced the first time the IKF sanctioned an event in NSW featuring 2 Time IKF World Champion Holly Ferneley . (Pictured Left)
By "VERBAL" definition of the New South Wales Boxing Authority, they "CLAIM" that it's "Illegal for women to fight, box or kickbox in New South Wales Australia.".... Yes, you heard us correctly. Illegal... However, notice we said the word "CLAIM" as well. Let us add that "NO WHERE" in the New South Wales Boxing & Wrestling Control Acts legal documents or legal laws does it come right out and say "Women are not allowed to fight, box or kickbox in NSW." What their own definition DOES SAY is that "Any male over the age of 16 may register to become a boxer in New South Wales." Following us so far?
The view of the NSWBA is a women's place is in the home cooking and having babies because their "ONLY" reason they could tell us as to WHY women shouldn't be allowed to fight is that "Well I guess they could injure their unborn fetus." That was the "ONLY" Reason anyone from the NSWBA gave us and that was Dave Morland's response to us back in March of this year. In fact, worse yet, other than the answer we were given above, not "1" single member on the NSWBA could give us any other JUSTIFIED REASON as to WHY women are not allowed to fight in Boxing or Kickboxing in NSW Australia. Their most common answer was, "It's just the law..." Keep in mind that we are talking about a state that lies in the country that will be hosting our 2000 Olympic Games this coming September. A state that has a law that "STILL" discriminates against women.
As we investigated this law, we found it odd that we discovered that women who fight under what the NSWBA call "Martial Arts Rules" ARE ALLOWED to fight. What are Martial Arts Rules? Believe it or not, FULL CONTACT Ring Sport Fighting. In fact, 3 Martial Arts Groups had been promoting such events for some time now. They include the Keito Martial Arts Association that does full contact Martial Arts, the Australian Chinese Kung Fu Association that does full contact Chinese Kung Fu fighting and the Kyokushine Ring Karate Australia that does full contact Ring Karate. So back in 1999, promoter Robert Wilesmith (Pictured Right) had a desire to promote Women fighter Holly Ferneley . Miss Ferneley is not Mr. Wilesmith's fighter so he didn't have a personal tie, he just wanted to promote women's kickboxing. However he knew of the NSWBA rule. So of course knowing this, he did what any other promoter in NSW would have done. Promoted his event as a Martial Arts Events which he has successfully done "TWICE" in NSW.
Both times, the NSWBA sent a representative (Dave Mooreland) to sit ringside who was welcomed by Mr. Wilesmith as well as the IKF. On BOTH events to assure they were "Sanctioned" as Martial Arts Events, Mr. Wilesmith sanctioned them with the Keito Martial Arts Association, the Australian Chinese Kung Fu Association, and the Kyokushine Ring Karate Australia along with the IKF. You see, the funny thing here is what Mr. Wilesmith did was no different than what others had already been doing in NSW. He found a TOTALLY LEGAL Loophole in the NSWBA Act.
However the NSWBA wasn't happy that Mr. Wilesmith was getting away with this so they filed a court case against him after his March 2000 event. The IKF funded some of the court/legal fees for the case because "We Support Equal Rights for Women." When the case went to court, Mr. Wilesmith and his Barrister embarrassed the NSWBA. The NSWBA couldn't even present a qualified expert who was part of their associates who could define martial arts or kickboxing let alone if there's a difference between the two. When the NSWBA was asked, "Do you know the rules for kickboxing and boxing?" The NSWBA asked to look it up in his book. Look it up? And your suppose to be an expert and an authority for the NSWBA? so because of this, the court brought the question to them, "How are you qualified to judge or define what is martial arts and what is not?" There answer... "We refer to the book..."
In addition, Mr. Wilesmith's Solicitor/Barrister continued with some other justified issues in the case.
The NSWBA questioned the participation of 2 fighters on the last 2 events promoted by Mr. Wilesmith. However what the NSWBA failed to research was that in NSW Australia, you can be a Professional fighter in "ANY" rule style, boxing, kickboxing, wrestling etc. and still be allowed to fight as an amateur on a Martial Arts Event. So when they questioned about 2 time IKF World Champion Ali Hallak (Pictured Right) and Miss Ferneley. Mr. Wilesmith's legal advisors answered;
Mr. Wilesmith's battle continued with these additional facts;
What Mr. Wilesmith's legal advisors did was highlight the inadequacy of the NSWBA Act, the interpretation which is being applied by people ill-qualified to handle clarifying definitions and the fact that he was being isolated from amongst a group of various others doing the same thing apparently with impunity. The boxing or kickboxing Act is so vague that it could cover "Any style of fighting" and is vague enough to be meaningless. (barroom brawls could finish up qualifying as boxing or kickboxing!!) Professional Boxing rules which contradict or undermine Kickboxing rules (3-count for a kick knock down, forced to apply the 'no foul rule' totally inappropriate in kickboxing, just to name two..) Highlight the differences between amateur & professional kickboxing. Add to this how different rules such as Muay Thai (knees/elbows) make a difference to a fight. Full contact martial arts, being allowed to use takedowns, sweeps/throws etc. makes for a technically different fight. Questions were directed at the NSWBA authority as to how/why the fight IS different to boxing / kickboxing. They couldn't answer because they DON'T know what difference the changed rules make. Keep in mind again that the "ONLY" reason Mr. Wilesmith went this rout (Sanctioning his events as a martial arts event compared to a kickboxing event) was to allow Holly Ferneley to fight in her own home state of NSW Australia.
After Mr. Wilesmith's March event, we asked the NSWBA Representative, "How can we change the law so boxing and kickboxing is legal in NSW for women?" And we were told to take it up with the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Bob Carr. So this was done. However Mr. Carr did nothing about it. We were next directed to the Minister for Sports and Recreation for NSW, Mr. John Watkins. Again, Mr. Watkins like Mr. Carr choose to turn his back on the issue as if it wasn't there. Mr. Watkins wouldn't claim to support the law yet he chooses not to change it either. Talk about a "Politically Neutral Stand". Seems these guys are afraid of upsetting the women of NSW Australia so they feel if they turn their backs on it, the media will give it less attention. However, what has now happened is that by their denial to address this VERY OLD law has done is open up the media flood gates. Again, remember, we're talking about a law that bans women from a sporting event in a state that is the host state of the country for this years Olympic Games.
Now we finally get to the planned July event by first time IKF Australia promoters, D. S. Promotions and their "Thunder in the Gong" event scheduled for Saturday night, July 8th in Wollongong, NSW, Australia. The IKF was first made aware of some event problems on Tuesday, July 4th when the venue was lost by the promoters not making a final deposit payment. The action this started lead to the cancelation of this event, but "NOT" by fault of D.S. Promotions. D.S. Promotions were already finalizing another venue that would eventually be confirmed.
The night before, Ali Hallack's opponent from England and Number 1 IKF Full Contact Rules Featherweight Contender Billy Saul (Pictured Above Right) (35-13/6) along with and Holly Ferneley opponent, Women's Bantamweight Contender Sarah Hall (Pictured Left) had just arrived the night before. From what we understand, there was some miscommunication as to WHO was suppose to pick them up at the airport and at what time due to a last minute change of flight schedules. Finally a driver arrived and brought them to their hotel. Once there, they couldn't find anyone representing D. S. Promotions so they started to ask questions about the event to people in the area. It was from these questions that started the actions of the NSWBA to force the cancelation of the event. Not by any fault of the English fighters by any means, it's just that their questions drew attention to the event. How this was done was one of the people the English fighters spoke to in regards to contacting the promoters said he knew someone who could help them. This individual figured the event would be licensed through the NSWBA since it was a kickboxing events (At least in general) and said he would contact a friend of his who worked at the NSWBA who could help them all get ahold of the promoters. Remember though, this event was being called a "Martial Arts Event" compared to the title of "Kickboxing Event" so the women's bout could take place. Because of this, the NSWBA had never been notified of such an event. The English fighters gave Mr. Wilesmith's name as the promoter (Which was wrong, Mr. Wilesmith was only the matchmaker, but he was their only contact once in Australia) Upon getting information of this and remembering how Mr. Wilesmith embarrassed the NSWBA a couple of months back in court, our individual (who's name remember we cannot mention) started sending "Threatening" faxes and making "Threatening" phone calls to everyone involved informing them that they would be arrested and fined if they proceeded with the event. That Mr. Wilesmith had no license or permit for the event, that Mr. Wilesmith was a terrible promoter etc. etc. This OBVIOUSLY scared the heck out of the promoters but EVEN MORE SO than the average promoter because they were a "Gaming Casino" (Gambling) and it's still not totally clear if they were threatened directly that they would lose their gaming license or they simply feared their license would be taken away because of the circumstances of the event. Regardless, upon getting such faxes and phone calls, the event was immediately cancelled.
Now add to this the stress, panic and worry of our English Team. They were in a country they didn't know. The promoters had not contacted them yet. They were hungry and fearing legal action against them after being confronted by our friend at the NSWBA who was telling them they would be arrested if they fought on this event. They were also informed by someone along the way that a "Martial Arts Event" included fighting with knees, elbows and doing throws which was far from the truth. (Those techniques may be allowed in "Martial Arts Rules" but the rules that were going to be followed were Full Contact Above the Waist Rules known to many around the world as Full Contact Karate years ago.) They were thinking by now, "What the heck have we gotten ourselves into!!?" Which many fighters have faced during world travel around the world...
What was now happening behind the scenes was even worse. Remember Mr. Bob Carr and the Minister for Sports and Recreation for NSW, Mr. John Watkins who choose to "Turn their backs on this issue?" Well, by doing so, our friend at the NSWBA (Who's name we cannot mention) went wild and has now put NSW Australia on the World Map for all the media to see but not for this coming September's Olympic Games, but for the failure of "Equal Rights" in women's sports. He has publicly embarrass the state of NSW and Australia only a couple of months before the start of the 2000 Olympic Games. An Olympic host country that doesn't support Equal Rights for Women Sports? Just how do they expect the media to act on that issue? Also, of the THREATS and NSWBA related documents he sent out to everyone (Including some sent to us here at the IKF), he sent them on his own personal business letterhead. (trying to separate the NSWBA from direct involvement to save the embarrassment they will now face.) What was this person thinking? That we wouldn't catch on to such a thing?
What made matters worse is that this individual went way outside his legal jurisdiction, abused his position of power as a member of the NSWBA just to get revenge at Mr. Wilesmith. He actually "MADE UP" his own "Interpretation" of the law in regards to kickboxing and women's fighting in NSW and faxed it to everyone involved as if "HIS Personal Interpretation" of the law was a "Past Legislative Law!" AND IT'S NOT! It never has been! He has individually created an "International Incident" for an Olympic Host Country all because those above him choose to "Turn their backs" of the situation in hopes it would just blow over and avoid them dealing with an International Incident in the year of their Olympic Event in New South Wales Australia. Get set for the media frenzy that will begin around Olympic time in regards to this situation. We've already been contacted be several International Media Services that want to "BLAST" this out of the water and throw egg on the face of the NSWBA. Those aren't are words of the IKF. These are the words of the Australian and International media and we all know how Media loves controversy! They feel there's a big story here about "Equal Rights For Women" and you know what, there IS! Add to all this the upcoming September Olympic Games right there in NSW and you have a media circus on the front steps of our NSWBA individuals office in Sydney ... You can imagine...
By the time IKF President Steve Fossum arrived in Australia at about 6:30 AM Friday morning, most of the damage had already been done. The English team was mad at Mr. Wilesmith thinking he was at fault since he was their only contact in Australia. There was even reference made by the English Team that the IKF was at fault, for whatever reasons, and would be slammed by certain people around the world, as if we had anything to do with what all was happening. This thought couldn't have been further from the truth because we had done everything in our power to make the event a success as we had did on the last 2 NSW Australia events we sanctioned. Why would ANYONE expect it to be any different than the previous times.
Immediately after collecting his bags, Mr. Fossum was on the phone contacting the various individuals involved in the event. He tried to set up a meeting with the English Team but they didn't want to meet because as we later discovered, they choose to meet with our friend at the NSWBA instead. Traveling fighters need to understand that sometimes when they go to a different country, there's always 1 person they can "ALWAYS" count on to help them as a neutral individual and that's Mr. Fossum. He's helped out a lot of fighters and trainers who arrived at events from other countries who felt lost or confused as to what all is going on. As the IKF Representative, it's his responsibility to assure the well being of the "Out of town fighters first" and the hometown situation next. However, he felt he never got this opportunity with the English Team by the time he arrived Friday.
"It's not their fault." Said Fossum. "By the time I got there, their minds were already made up as to who they felt was on their side. They felt stranded by Robert Wilesmith, even though he wasn't the promoter. They already made up their minds as to who they wanted to believe and like anyone coming in from a different country they were angry at the situation along with being a bit scared as to how they were getting home, were they going to be arrested, will they have a hotel to stay at and several other issues. When we got to the car, Robert called Billy Saul on his mobile/cell phone and quickly the conversation became heated by Billy. It was obvious Billy was upset with Robert because I could hear him over the phone but at the same time, he refused to hear Robert's explanation of what all had occurred. Robert tried to get Billy to talk to me but he didn't want to talk to anyone. Robert was trying to explain to him what all was happening but Billy didn't want to hear it. It was clear his mind was made up at least for the moment as to who was to blame for all this. Heck, if I was Billy at that point, I too would have been confused and angry, but still, he should have taken a moment to talk to me to hear what all was taking place. Instead, he related me directly with Robert and since he was mad at Robert, he choose not to talk with me as well. This just made matters worse and my job much harder.
All day Friday, Fossum was in meeting after meeting trying to clear things up. One of those meetings was with our individual at the NSWBA at his place of business. In the meeting, he presented his negative thoughts about Mr. Wilesmith along with his disapproval of women's fighting. He brought up both of Mr. Wilesmith's past promotions along with his own "Interpretation" of what the NSWBA wished the law for women's boxing should be. Fossum's main concern of the meeting was to allow the NSWBA representative to speak his thoughts as he desired so he would set himself up for the bigger question later. Which our NSWBA representative did quite well. After the meeting, Fossum called back to the NSBA representative's place of business to ask him that one big question... The previous definition of kickboxing by the NSWBA as we mentioned in this article above was very vague. However, now the NSWBA were trying to be more precise, to include ALL Martial Arts Fighting as well which would eliminate using the "Martial Arts Event" term to allow Holly Ferneley to fight other women in NSW. With this in mind, Fossum asked the question. "Is the law your quoting us now in regards to your current definition of kickboxing, which is 'Contests in which the contestants wear boxing gloves, compete in a ring and kick and punch' a PAST legislative law?" The answer back was "Well, it's our interpretation of the law as it is today." Fossum asked again, "Yes, but is it a past legislative law?" Again, the same response. Finally after being asked about 5 times, our NSWBA became very frustrated and admitted what Fossum wanted to hear all along, "OK, if you put it that way, no it's not a past legislative law! But we'll still enforce it!" In which Fossum replied, "You know as well as I do Mr. --- that you can't legally enforce a law unless it's a past legislative law, especially as a governmental agency. So all this time, this has only been 'YOUR INTERPRETATION' of a law that does not exist as of yet. Which means all this time, you had no law at all, just your personal thoughts and emotions." Frustrated, the NSWBA tried to backpeddle to explain himself, but he knew he just crossed the line and he was toast!
Next Fossum met with the promoters. However, by now the damage was done. The English fighters didn't want to take the fight for obvious reasons. They were angered and disturbed. The promoters still feared their legal questions and didn't want to lose their gaming license. In addition, the promoters were out a lot of money and wondered who to blame now. There were expenses to still be paid and still fences to mend and how those fences would be mended may be the best part of the entire story which we'll get to in a moment below.
As far as who the finger should be pointed at, there's no question to us that the finger will now be pointed at the NSWBA and their representatives for acting out of their jurisdiction and forming their own "Interpretation" of the law. Heck, our friend there even threatened us here at the IKF claiming we had done wrong in sanctioning these events under legal laws of the NSWBA. Heck, these were your rules guys, how can we break them, you wrote them. Don't be mad at us or Mr. Wilesmith, be mad at your author who wrote the rules, regulations and laws in regards to the NSWBA boxing and kickboxing acts. Our friend at the NSWBA actually threatened us with the line; "Having regard the 3 illegal promotions and their illegal features, I invite you to promptly set out in writing any submissions you wish to put to the Boxing authority stating why the Boxing Authority should not withdraw its recognition of the IKF." There you go again, stating things that are not fact. "Withdraw its recognition of the IKF? Last we checked, you need to formally file such an action with us directly sir and we await it. You have already threatened us and others with your personal "Interpretation of your laws" once and we won't fall for it again. We'll continue to stand firm on our position for Equal Rights for women and in the end, we will win the war for women fighters in New South Wales.
We mentioned earlier about the fences that still needed to be mended and IKF President Steve Fossum still needed to speak to the English Team. Finally a meeting was arranged for Sunday afternoon. In the meeting, Fossum brought the English team up to speed with what all had actually transpired compared to what they were told by others. After a discussion of these issues, Fossum presented to the English Team something that their 2 Australian World Champion opponents had suggested to show their good sportsmanship. The NSWBA had already made Australia look pretty bad to the English Team and both Ali Hallack and Holly Ferneley wanted to show true World Champion class to their opponents from England. All of their friends and family in Australia were able to hear first hand as to what exactly happened with the fights and they knew why the event was cancelled.
However, for the English Team, going home with no World Title Belt would present a lot of explaining and such explaining may sound like excuses to some. Knowing this and the hardships they faced all week long in Australia, both Hallack and Ferneley decided to award the IKF World Title Belts to the English Team as a show of honor, respect and sportsmanship. "Such an act is stronger than winning any World title." Said IKF President Steve Fossum. "It takes true honor and sportsmanship to do such a thing."
In doing so there were conditions though. Although Billy Saul and Sara Hall would return to England with the IKF World Titles, they had to agree to defend them before January 1st, 2001 either in England or Australia. With all 4 fighters having busy schedules, planning such a meeting may take some time but its sure to happen. IKF European Director and promoter Alby Bimpson of England has already agreed he could host the bouts if need be. However, there may be other promoters interested including Australia's Robert Wilesmith. But we will have to wait and see how everyone's fight schedule looks.
ABOVE RIGHT: 2 Time IKF World Champion Holly "Wildcat" Ferneley (RT) Presents the IKF Full Contact Rules Women's Bantamweight World Title Belt to Sara Hall of England (L). BELOW RIGHT: 2 Time IKF World Champion Ali "Lightning" Hallak (L) presents the IKF Pro Full Contact Rules Featherweight World Title Belt to Billy Saul of England (R) Although neither World Title Bout took place, Hallack and Ferneley decided to award the IKF World Title Belts to the English Team as a show of honor, respect and sportsmanship due to the problems that occurred for the planned IKF Australia Event with an agreement of a title Defense Before January 1st, 2001.
So in the end, everyone has tried to do the right thing. There are still some issues we here at the IKF are working to clear up with the Promoters and the Event Coordinator but we hope to have them settled within a few weeks.
Oh and by the way, you may be wondering, after all this, what happened to all the Amateur Fights and Amateur Title Bouts that were planned? Well, as we said, everyone did the right thing and with some last second scuffling and making things happen, those fighters didn't go unattended to. All the amateur bouts were kept together and featured on an event sanctioned as that NSWBA law of "Martial Arts Rules" Here's the results;
For more info call Mr. Robert Wilesmith at: Mobile: International number: 011 (614) 1121-1000 or (041) 121-1000 (Anywhere in Australia), Gym: (61) 2-9897-5222.
UPDATE - 2007:
Sadly, Promoters for Billy Saul and Sara Hall never kept their promise and the proposed bouts never happened...
In addition, although both Billy Saul and Sara Hall agreed to return the belts if the fights never happened, neither Billy Saul or Sara Hall returned the IKF Title Belts as promised... Keeping them, even though they never won the title.
Ali Hallack and Holly Ferneley were awarded the IKF Titles by Forfeit, but have never been challenged for them, nor have they ever defended them.