Columns » Bob McCord

Meth and martial arts

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Arkansas is ninth among the states that have the most people making methamphetamine. Last week the White House Office of National Drug Control sent a deputy director to Little Rock to honor the state for preventing people getting stuff to turn into drugs.

The director, Scott Burns, praised the state because it had eliminated nearly half of the labs set up to make the stuff in Arkansas. Much credit went to state Sen. Percy Malone of Arkadelphia, who passed a bill last year that limits the amount of medicine people can buy in drug stores that contains the raw ingredients to make methamphetamines.

The law requires that the pills (mostly for allergies and colds) that contain the stuff cannot be displayed on the shelves. The pills must be bought from the pharmacist; if the pharmacist OKs it, the person can buy only a certain amount, must show an identification card and has to sign a log. If policemen see that a person is buying too often, they will check the address looking for a lab and will quickly destroy it.

In 2004, according to Keith Rutledge, the state drug director, the state had destroyed about 1,200 of those labs. Last year about 600 were destroyed, and the decrease is a reult of the Malone bill.

None of the cold medicines that contain the chemicals are made in the United States, but, of course, American pharmaceutical companies buy them to sell to American drug stores. Much of it is made in Mexico, and Rutledge said that the federal government was trying to persuade the Mexican government to stop the companies making so many of the drugs that contain the chemicals.

Despite the praise from the White House, Jacksonville’s newspaper, The Leader, found that some of the mid-state county officers haven’t seen less use of dope. Lonoke County Sheriff Jim Roberson says that there is less meth around but there’s more marijuana coming from Mexico. Lt. Greg Williams in White County says that while there are no bigger drug laboratories in the woods, people are still making drugs. The addicts drive from drug store to drug store getting the stuff and then make small batches in their kitchens.

Did you watch two hours of NBC’s Main Event of wrestlers last Saturday night on Channel 4? I watched for about five minutes and was surprised to see on the screen that there were thousands of young men and women in the stands whooping it up.

I guess that’s one of the changes that have happened. When I was growing up around here, the spectators at wrestling and boxing matches at the boys clubs and Robinson Auditorium were mostly old or middle-aged men. In the last few years, attendance at ordinary boxing and wrestling matches has been dropping, and so, a few years ago promoters turned to a new method that apparently young Americans really like. It’s called martial arts fighting.

Unlike boxing or wrestling, these fighters can get into the ring and hit each other using karate, judo, jujitsu, boxing, wrestling, old-fashioned street fighting, etc. According to the Wall Street Journal, which had a page-one story about it last week, the only things the fighters can’t do is to bite each other or gouge eyes. Until now, that kind of fighting was not allowed in any state in this country, but now more than 20 states have OKed this new kind of prize fight.

Danny Dring of Sherwood teaches pugilism and promotes boxing matches. His first martial arts fight was in Louisiana in 1997. A few years later the Arkansas State Athletic Commission persuaded the legislature to change its law so martial arts fights could be held in Arkansas. There’s been one in Fort Smith, Texarkana and Little Rock. The latest was Dring’s match in the Sherwood Forest auditorium Feb. 18, which was the day that ice was all over the streets in Pulaski County.

“Only 380 people came, but there would have been 1,000 there if it hadn’t been for the bad weather,” Dring said. Now he is going to have another match April 1 in Sherwood, and the people who had bought tickets and couldn’t get to the February match can go to this one.

Dring says more people, especially young ones, really like to come to mixed martial arts fights. I told him that I was surprised that people wanted to see people get hurt from head to toe, especially young people. Well, Dring said I was wrong because this new kind of fighting is no more dangerous than other kinds. “After all,” he said, “there’s no head lick that kills.”

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