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The New York Post
KIM Sumbler isn't afraid to say it. She didn't hesitate when asked if she believes this is a new era in the sometimes turbulent history of the New York State Athletic Commission.
"Yes, I do," said Sumbler, who was recently appointed as the commission's new executive director. "We put the athletes first. I'm not saying the commission hasn't done that in the past. But we're doing our best to review all of our policies and make sure our policies are doing what they're intended to do, which his to protect these athletes."
Sumbler was appointed to the commission last year as the point person to develop staff, policies and procedures to regulate mixed-martial arts in New York after the sport was legalized by the state in the spring of 2016. It was a good hire.
Before joining the NYSAC, Sumbler spent a decade regulating amateur and professional combat sports for the Seneca Nation of Indians. Not only did she spearhead the commission since its inception in 2008, but Sumbler traveled throughout the United States helping other Native American tribes set up their own athletic commissions.
Initially hired to establish MMA policy and procedures in New York, she is now in charge of the day-to-day operation of NYSAC, which regulates MMA, boxing, wrestling and other martial arts competition.
"I'm very lucky and I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to run the Athletic Commission for New York State," she said.
The NYSAC will be stretched on Nov. 4 when Barclays Center hosts a major boxing card headlined by Deontay Wilder defending his WBC heavyweight championship against Bermane Stiverne, while UFC returns to Madison Square Garden for UFC 217.
That might have been a challenge a year ago when the Commission was new to MMA, but Sumbler said she is confident there are plenty of inspectors and other commission officials to handle the double-duty.
"We have more than enough bodies on our staff," said Sumbler, who has trained extensively in jujitsu, kickboxing and karate, but never competed. "Throughout the state I've got 12 deputy commissioners, 43 inspectors and 31 ringside physicians on my payroll. There will be no problem filling the roster."
Though the NYSAC has a long history of regulating boxing, UFC 217 will be the eighth MMA event in the state, including the UFC's debut last November at UFC 205. The UFC has also held events in Buffalo, Albany, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Bellator held its initial MMA event at MSG in June.
"We basically had to start from scratch and develop a new [MMA] program," Sumbler said. "New York obviously had a great boxing legacy which was great because it provided a great foundation. We did hire extra staff, but a lot of staff already at the commission had a lot of MMA experience in the amateur industry."
The hope is Sumbler can bring some much-needed stability to the Commission. She is the fourth executive director since the MMA bill was passed, following David Berlin, Eric Bentley, and Anthony Giardina. The initial uproar over increased insurance requirements of up to $1 million per fighter has quieted, though small promotions remain impacted. The state also has settled a lingering lawsuit stemming from the brain injuries Russian boxer Magomed Abdulsalamov sustained in a heavyweight fight at the Garden Theater in November 2013.
With Sumbler at the helm, there's a feeling that someone is in charge who actually understands how to regulate MMA and boxing.
"The boxing community and the MMA community are realizing we have turned over a new leaf," Sumbler said.
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