By Todd Humphrey
May 10, 2015 at 9:57am
I sit here today and wonder exactly how the state of Missouri has gotten to this point in state regulations. I'm sure in the beginning, the regulations set forth by the state which created the bureaucracy that is known as the "Missouri Office of Athletics" were brought about by mostly good intentions. However, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and as everyone knows the only thing bureaucracies do is impose more and more unnecessary controls on honest, hard working law abiding citizens, such as myself.
The regulations for boxing, MMA, and professional wrestling in the state of Missouri are so strict, that it inhibits the prosper of anyone who strives to provide honest and clean entertainment to the residents and visitors of our state. Allow me to expand on them. In order to promote professional wrestling in the state of Missouri, you have to be a licensed professional wrestling promoter. The license fee on that is $400.00 for a two year license payable to the Missouri Office of Athletics. In order to qualify for a promoters license, you must first obtain a surety bond in the amount of $5000.00 which runs roughly about $100.00/year, already we're at a total expenditure of $600.00 to be permitted by the state of Missouri to promote our product. This is only the beginning, the next step is to obtain a "permit" for each event we promote. These permits were a mere $25.00 per event when I started in this business 16 years ago. Things always change, however, when bureaucracies feed their unending appetite for more control. The permit fees now for a professional wrestling show are $150.00/event. The fee remains $25.00 for boxing and MMA. The executive director of the Missouri Office of Athletics, Mr. Tim Lueckenhoff has gone on record in a response to my initial complaints to my legislators saying: "It should be noted that the permit fee for each wrestling event was increased in from $25 per show to $150 per show in 2004. This was necessary because the office prior to 2004 was regulating approximately 275 wresting shows a year.The majority of those show was taking in less than $20 in athletic taxes and the office was losing money on the regulation of almost every show." It's worth mention that the state has declared any advertisements of professional wrestling events illegal until there is a permit issued for the show in question. Mr. Lueckenhoff boasted in his response: "I found the advertisement on NWA’s website. I immediately called the person I believed to be promoting the show that being Charles Wilcox. Mr. Wilcox was advised to remove all advertisement until such time as a promoter license,bond and permit was issued for the event." Correct me if I'm wrong, but that is a blatant violation of the first amendment of the United States Constitution. Advertisement for our shows is done in several different ways, first is word of mouth. When you develop a core base of fans of your product, and they ask "when's the next show?" This is a common question heard often. We also mainly advertise by use of printed flyers which are placed on display at many private property businesses such as convenience stores, and other places. There are times when radio advertisements are bought, and of course internet advertising such as here on Facebook, our website, and Twitter. All of these forms of advertisement are forbidden by the Office of Athletics until we buy a permit for the event in question, thus denying us of our first amendment rights.
Next we have the issue of participant licensure. Each wrestler appearing in matches for the card must be licensed by the state. All licenses expire on June 30th of even years. The cost for the wrestlers to be licensed is $40.00. However, the requirements for wrestlers include a physical examination by a doctor, HIV, and hepatitis B&C blood tests. In response to this, Mr. Lueckenhoff states: "After the blood rule went into effect the office did make attempts to modify the rule for wrestling contestant to make them less stringent, however, the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules advised that all contestants must be treated the same." It should be noted that this response was given right before his statement on permit fees. So, in Mr. Lueckenhoff's office, all "contestants" must be treated the same, but in the same paragraph, promoters must be oppressed. His reasoning: "Regulation is necessary because on the independent level such as NWA, contestant are trying to make a name for themselves. We have seen contestants try hit each other with light bulbs, wrestle with thumbtacks in the ring and even in one instance a table was set on fire with lighter fluid and a wrestler was body slammed on to the table. The other problem is that state licensing holds promoters accountable to a higher authority, therefore, civic and charitable organizations as well as venues had a place to file a complaint in the event on an injustice by unscrupulous promoters. Other professional sports teams have entities that regulate them such as MLB, NHL, NFL etc,therefore another layer of regulation in unnecessary. Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts are regulated by the office because there are no other oversight bodies to ensure of proper regulation." I would like to make one thing crystal clear, what you're seeing is a prime example of a bureaucracy that has completely overstepped its mandate as most bureaucracies do. Mr. Lueckenhoff does not have the professional knowledge to instruct me or any other promoter on how to operate our business. His area of expertise is in criminal justice, of which he has a BS. This proves that the Office of Athletics is in no way qualified to tell me how to operate my business, that is also unconstitutional, it violates the first, ninth and thirteenth amendments. He says we promoters are held to a "higher authority" There is no higher authority to be held to than the honest, hard working citizens who buy tickets and come to our events, the state of Missouri is under their authority. As I have stated before, the free market dictates success in business. Government can't cause success, however, government can hinder success. In defense of the inspectors from the Missouri Office of Athletics, Mr. Lueckenhoff states: "The majority of inspectors who work wrestling events for the office have been involved in the sport of wrestling either as promoters, contestants or other interested parties." Basically saying that these inspectors have gone out of business for one reason or another, because of that, they're qualified to dictate to me how to operate my business.
It's a shame that this business is the way it is in that the promoters in the state won't band together and rid the state of this unconstitutional behavior. Instead, most promoters are only out for themselves and at times use this out of control bureaucracy as a tool to hurt the promotions they see as a threat. Myself, I'm happy to work with any promoter anywhere in order to promote Professional Wrestling in our state, and without state regulations, wrestling would prosper in that we would more easily be able to afford to bring in bigger names on our cards, we would be able to produce a much more fan-friendly product each time, without the fear of some state inspector looking over our shoulder, and telling us in an unconstitutional way what we can and can't do. We here at NWA Central-States Championship Wrestling take pride in the fact that we've never shown any disrespect to any other promotion in this region. However, there are those who do anything to try and make us a casualty of the unjust regulations in the state of Missouri.
My partners fear that the things I say publicly about these unconstitutional regulations will cause us trouble. I have no fear, however, as I will remind everyone who reads this note, including those of you at the Office of Athletics, no retaliation can be legally taken upon me for exposing this unjust regulation. I will not hesitate to take action against the Office of Athletics if I feel at anytime there is retaliation taken against my license. Mr Lueckenhoff also stated in the opening to his response of my initial complaint: "Mr. Humphrey has not been licensed in Missouri since 2006." I would like to respond directly to that. Mr. Lueckenhoff, I have the utmost respect for you, and personally I find you to be pleasant and friendly. I will kindly remind you though, Tim, I sir am a taxpaying resident of this state. I do not and will not bow in submission to any state agency or official. It doesn't work that way. I am making preparations to request seeing the entire budget, expenditures, and income of the Office of Athletics. Because of it being a public bureaucracy, the state is required to provide me with that information. Myself, I want to see exactly what's coming in, and going out.