Mixed-martial arts fights called off in Forest Lake

Organizers of a mixed-martial arts event in Forest Lake have called off fights scheduled for Saturday after learning that a city ordinance prohibits such events.

Mark Petrulo, the owner and operator of a mixed-martial arts gym in the northern metro suburb, was was cosponsoring the fights. He says the amateur event was sanctioned by the Minnesota Combative Sports Commission, which regulates boxing and mixed-martial arts events.

The sport is also known as MMA or ultimate fighting.

Petrulo says he didn't realize that Forest Lake passed a law banning MMA events back in 2007. He thinks the ordinance is flawed.

"The way they wrote it, and that's why I say it's got a lot of holes in it from a layman's point of view, there are martial arts schools that are operating within the city limits that are not in compliance with this ordinance," Petrulo said. "It seems to me they're doing a little selective enforcement."

Petrulo said he held a similar event in Forest Lake last December, and heard no objections from city officials.

Police chief Clark Quiring said he notified the American Legion hall where the fights were to be held and gave them a copy of the ordinance.

The law in part defines ultimate fighting as any event where kicking, punching, or martial arts are permitted. Quiring said the City Council did not mean to outlaw karate and other forms of martial arts.

"That was not the intent of the law, and we will be looking at this law in light of what's happened, and it will be going before the council again," Quiring said.

Event sponsors say they're calling off the event because they don't want to risk misdemeanor charges or their good standing with the sports commission.

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