Opponents are calling the practice “vile and reprehensible.” No one knows just how many baby wrestling rings exist. The bill would include funding for police to shut down the rings, and, because this form of violence against children is perceived as "shocking", law enforcement officials and judges have unsuccessfully attempted to quietly sweep the issue under the rug.
“Children as young as 18 months old are being forced to fight each other,” said Tuscon officer Steve Swanson. In what is being seen as an affront to children across Arizona, baby fighting rings are being exposed.
The clandestine culture of baby wrestling is believed to be directly related to other criminal activity, including baby gang violence. One ring leader, Davios Smith, has already been arrested, and charged with manslaughter. Images and videos of fights were found on his home computer.
Among the evidence, police found videos of babies forced to crawl on treadmills in an effort to increase their cardiovascular fitness and endurance. One other man, identified as a baby fighting “coach” was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including child endangerment. Police also found nutritional supplements and hormones along with cocaine and steroids at the home of Smith; it was unclear which drugs and supplements were given to the children.
“This baby fighting has got to stop,” said feminist journalist and anti-baby wrestling activist Marisa Meltzer. She has been one of the most vocal media opponents of the practice to date. The bill is expected to pass in January.
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