Eight lawmakers went to a Des Moines bar last night to investigate “fight night.” Lawmakers are considering banning or perhaps regulating these amateur bouts of extreme fighting, and last night was the first any had seen the sport. There were about 700 other people inside the Toad Holler bar, and all the folks in the bar I talked to hate the idea of legislators interfering in their fun. Twenty-four-year-old Chris Hazen of Ames had a message for lawmakers. He says it’s good fun and no one is forcing the participants to get involved. Hazen says it’s the same reason cigarettes aren’t illegal, because people make the choice to smoke them. Chris brought his 18-year-old brother Jeff along, and Jeff came for a reason. He says he wants to “See some blood. See some violence.” Twenty-eight-year-old Chad Ebelsheiser of Ames won the first fight, which was mainly a wrestling match. Joe Jackson of Des Moines says his girlfriend’s two sons fight, and they take their training seriously. He says it’s neat and unreal to have something that they enjoy to do. One lawmaker covered her eyes at one point, another buried her head in my shoulder after one big guy slammed another onto the canvas. Senator Sandra Greiner of Keota isn’t ready to ban the sport, but thinks the state might want to force those who participate to have health insurance. She says she thought it would be much bloodier, and some of the moves bothered her, but she says it wasn’t as bad as she thought it would be. Toad Holler owner Lou McCormick says fight nights draw huge crowds. He says they love the sport and it is “honest to goodness wrassling, boxing, kick boxing, no fixes here.” Senators Dick Dearden of Des Moines; Mary Lou Freeman of Alta; Sandra Greiner of Keota; Johnnie Hammond of Ames; Patricia Harper of Waterloo; David Miller of Libertyville, Betty Soukup of New Hampton; and State Representative Jamie Van Fossen of Davenport all attended the event.
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