FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
AUSTIN, TEXAS (3 February 14)—By law, the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) was given sixty days to render a decision after the contested case pursued by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) against the Muay Thai Alliance of Texas (MTAT) took place on January 17th.
However, it took Administrative Law Judge Roy G. Scudday just thirteen days to review the evidence and issue a decision that the case against the Alliance be dismissed—consequently delivering a knock-out blow to the TDLR and the Boxing Commission’s credibility as the “agencies in charge of controlling and regulating Muaythai.”
The case stemmed from an anonymous complaint and TDLR allegations that the Alliance held an illegal combative sports event for which it had to possess a license. The Alliance has always maintained its innocence and pointed to its mission as well as the cultural and educational goals of its programs as evidence. The TDLR only had the testimony of Inspector Robert Tapia, an 11 year employee charged with overseeing combative sports events and enforcing State procedures and guidelines in Texas. To his credit, Tapia is a former professional boxer and currently holds a license as a USA Boxing certified instructor —but with no such experience or education in Muaythai.
The decision comes as no surprise to MTAT Chairman Pramajarn Kayan Sitsanthaparn, who faced off against TDLR Staff Attorney Mary Winston, to represent the Alliance during the proceedings.
“I knew that they didn’t have a case, but for the sake of Muaythai, it was a matter of principle to go through with the hearing and let justice take its course.” Sitsanthaparn said. “I’m very pleased with the judge’s decision.”
“In the legal aspect of things, this decision will undoubtedly shake things up in Texas and change the landscape in which Muaythai and the Alliance are viewed,” he added. “We’re not a bunch of hooligans. We’re a bonafide organization with goals that's quite capable of fighting back in a courtroom if we have to.”
The Proposal for Decision will be read at a future meeting of the TDLR and the Boxing Commission, time at which the TDLR will either accept or deny the decision. Sitsanthaparn alludes that should the TDLR and the Boxing Commission not accept the judge’s decision, the possibility exists for an international situation that could very well include the Texas Secretary of State, representatives for the Thai Government, the Sport Authority of Thailand, and the legally recognized governing bodies for Muaythai.
“The State cannot control or regulate what it doesn’t understand, own, or have legal rights to,” Sitsanthaparn stated. “We’re here to help them understand, but we're also prepared to seek restitution for damages, as well as an injunction against the agency to protect Muaythai and ourselves from this type of prosecution in the future.”
The evidence in the record certainly points to a major legal argument in favor of the shift of “regulatory power and authority” as the Alliance seeks to repeal TDLR authored legislation with regard to Muaythai in 2015.
Welcome to the Revolution….