PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5)-- Charges have been filed against two men after they ran unsanctioned combat sporting events in Glendale in 2018.
The Arizona Department of Gaming (ADG) said on Monday that Roland Sarria and Todd Whitmoyer face four class-2 misdemeanors after they "failed to procure a license and failing to provide a physician for two unsanctioned events that occurred on Sept. 15 in Phoenix and on Sept. 29 in Glendale."
According to the Department of Gaming, one unsanctioned event was held at the Elks Lodge in Glendale.
The second event was held at Cortez High School.
“Yeah, I don’t like it,” says Veronica Fife, who learned of the news Tuesday as she was picking up her child from school. “Something needs to be done, I guess.”
Some parents didn’t like the idea of an event held on campus without proper health and safety precautions.
“That’s crazy, no medical staff would be by if someone got hurt or got killed,” says parent, Chris Hughes. “Children shouldn’t be subject to that even if it’s high school.”
The Glendale Union High School District says it rented the space for the September event without knowing the event may be unsanctioned. A spokeswoman says no students or staff participated in the event.
The Arizona Boxing & Mixed Martial Arts Commission regulates and sanctions amateur and professional MMA, professional boxing and kickboxing contests conducted statewide.
ADG said any event not approved by an authorized sanctioning body is considered unsanctioned.
“It’s our duty to protect the integrity of these sports, the unarmed combatants and the public,” ADG director Ted Vogt said in a statement.
“We do this by ensuring that individuals engaged in unsanctioned unarmed combat events are held accountable in a court of law.”
Thiago Azeredo is a Muay Thai coach and owner of Sitan Gym Arizona in Chander. He's not affiliated with the two men charged, but he is aware of them. He says he has seen them run unsanctioned events and reported them at various times over the years to the AZ Boxing and MMA Commission under the Arizona Department of Gaming.
Arizona's Family tried reaching out to Whitmoyer and Sarria, but hasn't heard back.
Axeredo says MMA is a dangerous sport if it's not regulated.
"(Unsanctioned events mean) no doctor at the event, mismatched athletes that are grossly mismatched in weight," said Axeredo.
He said he's glad something was done.
"I'm very happy it culminated into this because with them being gone, the sport can actually flourish and practice in a safe way," said Axeredo. "I'm very happy, it's been a long time coming."
He said promoters who don't play by the rules hurt the credibility of the growing sport.
"Both these gentlemen being previously licensed, they were well aware of the health and safety standards we have in place," said Francisco Meneses Jr., executive director for the AZ Boxing and MMA Commission."
"It's very unacceptable and it's grossly negligent," he added.
Varun Nair is an amateur Muay Thai fighter at Sitan Gym Arizona.
"You bleed in the sport," he said. "My blood can get on somebody and we both can have open cuts and you mix blood so you have to be very careful."
"If it's not sanctioned, and there's not enough proper blood work, and physicals done, then someone can really get hurt, but the long run, somebody can get a disease," added Nair.
ADG added that Sarria and Whitmoyer could face additional charges.
ADG asks the public if they have a tip or just need information on unsanctioned events, they can contact their department at (602) 364-1721.
Kim Mesquita, the spokeswoman for the Glendale Union High School District, sent the following statement.
“The school rented space for an event, however at the time of the rental the school was not made aware the event was unsanctioned.
No students or anyone from the school participated in the event in any way. The organization that rented the space from the school signed a rental agreement that stipulates, 'Lessee agrees to comply with all federal, state, and municipal laws, rules, ordinances, regulations, and orders with respect to the use and occupancy therof.' Apparently the lessee did not comply with the rental agreement, since the Arizona Department of Gaming determined that the lessee’s event was unsanctioned.”