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When the Athletic Commission was in Force!
by Ric Drasin on 2001-10-23

A decade ago there was a force known as the State Athletic Commission. They had jurisdiction over Boxing Events and Pro Wrestling Events. The commission had good points and bad points about them. It was not unlike Screen Actors Guild of today for Actors. You had to be licensed through them in order to wrestle or you didn't work. If they were in force today, about 90% of the local wrestlers would not be working. I'll tell you why.

There were very strict rules to become a Wrestler. Like I said, you had to be licensed through the State of California, which meant you had to have a physical from a commission Dr., eye test, blood test, chest x-ray, fingerprints (police) background check and a fee of $20. Sounds pretty simple if you meet the criteria. But not only that, you also had to have a booking date and it had to be through a State of California Promoter who was licensed through the state. A Promoter's License was even harder to get. Not only did you have a $500 fee for the license, but also you had to post a bond of ''$5000.00' and provide 2 Million dollar liability insurance, have a steady venue that was specifically made for Wrestling. Funds to insure payment to wrestlers and then a load of paper work before each show with every 'licensed' wrestler listed, ticket sales, and tickets had to be attained through a specific ticket company ok'd by the commission and numbered in sequence and counted before and after each show by a representative from the commission. I had to get a promoter's license in my wife's name so that I could wrestle. You couldn't hold two different licenses.

They would show up at every match, check your license have a Dr. on hand to check your blood pressure and health and if you didn't pass or have a license you couldn't work. The commission also collected a % of ticket sales at the end of every event for the state. Paper work had to be in their office 5 days prior to any show with all changes or you couldn't run. If there was another promotion in town which then was not considered 'Indy' but opposition or 'outlaw promotion', the commission did everything they could to make it tough on them to run a show and scrutinized all the paper work and sometimes at the last minute wouldn't let them run.

Since Vince McMahan declared Wrestling under the terms of Entertainment he got the commission debarred in some states, Calif. being one of them. But, by doing that he also exposed the business for what it is today. Back then there was still a certain mystery about it being real or not. No one really went behind the 'Kafabe'. Even the commission was in the dark about it. Today as you know, everyone knows the 'high spots' and finishes. Too bad cause who wants to really know the secrets of wrestling or magic. It's much more fun to wonder as through a 'kid's eyes. When I say the commission compared to the Screen Actors Guild, I meant that you just couldn't join SAG. YOU have to have a film or commercial lined up through a Producer that needs your type and sends a letter to SAG for you to join. Otherwise you can't get in.

You need to be a member to work and you can't get work unless you're a member. This was how wrestling was then. It wasn't flooded with unskilled talent like today and people who claim they're wrestlers after 3 lessons. To get a license back then you really had to know how to work and be approved by the promoter. There was a rumor that came passed me about a month ago that the commission was going to be back in force. Now it may just be a rumor but if it comes to pass, all the old rules will apply again and you can see where that will lead.

They still have a commission in many places such as Oregon and Nevada and they are very strict in those areas. Remember the State wants all it's tax money from every source. Wrestling is 'hot'. They got it before and they'll try to get it again. Especially now. Be thankful that you can work today the way it is. But on the other hand maybe it's better that it should be limited to those who qualify.


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