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Professional wrestling should be deregulated in Texas because it...

By BOB LOWRY

AUSTIN, Texas -- Professional wrestling should be deregulated in Texas because it is 'choreographed' and a staged entertainment, the staff of the state Sunset Advisory Commission recommended Tuesday.

Boxing should continue to be regulated by the Texas Department of Labor and Standards because of the danger of injury or death, thereport stated.

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'We just didn't see it (wrestling) in the same light as professional boxing,' said Bill Wells, executive director of the Sunset Commission. 'It (wrestling) is a sport, but the object, though, is not to damage the other person, theoretically, as it is in boxing.'

The recommendations were made as part of a 133-page report that suggests the continuance of a revised Department of Labor and Standards.

The full Sunset Commission will take public testimony on the report Aug. 26 before making its recommendation to the Texas Legislature in 1989.

Boxing and wrestling have been regulated by the state since 1933.

But the Sunset Commission staff said professional wrestling should be deregulated because matches 'are comparable to professional football where injuries are a byproduct of the contest.'

'While there could be injuries at wrestling matches ... physical contact in wrestling shows is largely choreographed and blows are not delivered to the body with the same intent as in boxing.'

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Also, since wrestlers often appear in three to four matches a week compared to an average of six bouts per year for boxers, 'there is more of a built-in incentive for contestants to stay healthy than in less frequent boxing shows,' according to the report.

'The industry also appears to be largely self-regulating given the promoters' interest in keeping wrestlers healthy enough to maintain the road show.'

Wells said he hoped the staff's comments about professional wrestling did not upset wrestlers or their fans, but he said the report was 'toned down a whole lot from the original draft.'

Since wrestling has been regulated, the state has attempted to assign at least one inspector to each match to ensure the blood pressure, heart rate and pulse of wrestlers is checked before the match, monitor the audience and collece license fees and the state's 3 percent gross receipts tax.

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