What is Slap Fighting?
Slap competitions seem to have originated in Russia, despite being hard to confirm. Strongmen took turns slapping each other until one was knocked out or quit. Slap fighting has made its way to America with The "SlapFIGHT Championship" league. Founded in 2017, the league is based in Branson, Missouri.
Slap fight Championships involves two competitors standing face to face with a barrel between them. The premise is the same with competitors slapping each other until there is a KO or a forfeit. It’s a real test of mind, body and will as both men and women compete for the bragging rights to become a slap world champion.
Slap Fighting Rules
The concept of slap fighting is simple: knockout the other person or make them quit. Some of the notable names in the sport are Da Crazy Hawaiian, Wolverine and White Simba. According to SlapStrike.com, the general rules are:
●At the "counter", the fight is controlled by judges who care about the safety of competitors and adherence to the rules of the fight.
●The duel is judged by three judges, two directly observing the fight and one analyzing replays.
●Each competitor entering the fight must have a mouth guard and ear protection.
●There are 3 rounds. In each of them, the participant has one hit.
●There must be people (supporters) at the competitor and the judges to protect the competitor from falling.
●Before the impact, the players rub talcum powder on their hands.
●The judges make the final, irrevocable decision.
Even though the rules stipulate the person being slapped must keep their feet parallel and shoulder width apart, there are some illegal slaps. These include no striking of the temple, eyes, nose, ears or larynx areas. The receiver is also prohibited from moving or leaning away before or after the slap. Using lubricants, substances and stimulants is also not allowed.
Dana White’s Power Slap League
Despite its popularity, slap fighting leagues were not sanctioned until now. The State of Nevada has just licensed Power Slap, a league created by UFC president Dana White and UFC investor Lorenzo Fertitta. White describes Power Slap as the biggest slap competition of all time.
As a boxing and MMA fan himself, why would the UFC President waste his time on such a sport? Hunter Campbell, the Chief Business Officer of the UFC, told ESPN, "After testing it, it became obvious that it had enormous potential as a sport."
"It made all the sense in the world to go toward regulation before the sport's commencing, for all the obvious reasons -- No. 1, the health and safety of the competitors.” He continued. It appears the UFC is out to dominate another sport in the same way they've dominated the world of MMA.
Injuries and Long-Term Effects
While there is certainly a fan base for the sport, there is also a large segment of those who believe Slap leagues should not be sanctioned by any sanctioning body. Critics believe slap fighting is a senseless “sport” and poses an unnecessary risk to the health of the participants. In MMA, boxing and other combat sports, fighters have the ability to protect themselves at all times. In slap fighting, the aspect of defense is taken away. The end result is two people trading concussive blows to one another.
A slap might seem harmless on the surface, but repeated hits to the head of any kind will cause damage to the brain. Rather than slaps with the fingers, the strikes seen in the promo videos of Power Slap are more palm strikes instead. No matter how less damaging it looks from the outside, repeated slaps, punches and elbow strikes are all bad for your mental health. Aside from that, an open-handed slap can rupture an eardrum, resulting in hearing damage. This is why competitors wear cotton balls in their ears.
In October 2021, Artur “Waluś” Walczak suffered a cerebral hemorrhage after being knocked out four times during a slap fight event. The 46-year-old slap fighter was rushed to the hospital where he was placed in a medically induced coma. Walczak later passed away due to multi-organ-failure.
To sum things up, there is so much that can go wrong in slap fighting. Being slapped repeatedly without having the ability to defend oneself is a recipe for permanent bodily damage over time. With Dana White’s Power Slap league now being sanctioned, there will be sufficient medical staff on hand during competitions, but is that enough? Physicians say no.
Neurologist and Chief Medical Officer for the New York State Athletic Commission, Dr. Sethi said, “I disagree with the argument that better medical supervision of this ‘sport’ shall make it safer. I am not sure what a physician is meant to supervise here other than being the overseer of concussive injuries occurring under his or her watch.” In light of recent complaints about the pay and medical benefits of UFC fighters, joining a slap league, sanctioned or unsanctioned, is like playing Russian roulette with your mental health.