Tough Guy Law
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania became the first state in history to outlaw the sport of mixed martial arts in 1983 with the passage of Senate Bill 632 aka the “Tough Guy Law.” The law set the first legal precedence for the sport.
Legislative action began in 1981 with the introduction of Senate Bill 742. The bill specifically targeted CV Productions’ mixed martial arts format. The specific language named their service marks and defined mixed martial arts competition as:
- “AS USED IN THIS SECTION THE PHRASE “TOUGH GUY CONTEST” OR “BATTLE OF THE BRAWLERS” MEANS ANY COMPETITION WHICH INVOLVES ANY PHYSICAL CONTACT BOUT BETWEEN TWO OR MORE INDIVIDUALS, WHO ATTEMPT TO KNOCK OUT THEIR OPPONENT BY EMPLOYING BOXING, WRESTLING, MARTIAL ARTS TACTICS OR ANY COMBINATION THEREOF AND BY USING TECHNIQUES INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PUNCHES, KICKS AND CHOKING.”
In 1981, Representative David Richardson referred to SB 742 as a “Tough Guy Bill,” calling it unconstitutional because it contained anti-abortion legislation. The “Tough Guy Bill” passed the Pennsylvania House and the Senate but was vetoed by Governor Dick Thornburgh December 23, 1981.