Kumite with Butch Hiles Part 3

Last week we looked into the styles Butch practices and what he listens to on the radio when working out. In this week’s edition Butch will recount the challenges he and other local martial artist faced when trying to bring Brazilian Jiu-jitsu and Mixed Martial Arts to West Virginia. After MMA became legal in the state, Butch takes on a new role as a coordinator for the WV Games.

KKD: You have been a major promoter of martial arts in Charleston. What inspired you to work so hard to get the MMA Bill passed?

Butch: The inspiration is simple. There were a few people out there who had their own agenda regarding athletics in WV. In fact, for a short time, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Japanese JuJitsu, and Judo were even banned in WV around 2005. I don’t think people even fully understand what was going on in 2005 when a few very ignorant people were trying to over step their boundaries and trying to make most martial arts either illegal to do or very hard to do. I had to help battle that in the courts of WV and we ultimately defeated those who were trying to screw everything up for us all.

If we didn’t fight that ruling and judgement, most martial arts would have been banned in WV in some form or another. Mostly meaning, there would not be any tournaments like you see in our state, every weekend, or every other state across the United States, for that matter. Ultimately, once that was cleared the only thing that remained was the fact that MMA was illegal in WV.

Myself, and others, stood up for MMA for years. However, in order to pass a new bill and actually make some new laws you really need more than a few of us talking to our local government. It’s really a huge process that took some really key people getting involved before it could happen.

Zuffa, the parent company of the UFC, a great lobbyist, named Sam Minardi, and myself took on the challenge a couple of years ago. I give most of the credit to them, because they are who asked me to get involved and they did a lot more work than I could ever do on my own. My job was getting the grassroots efforts going and meeting with various members of the house and senate and letting them know about the sport and the local aspects of MMA and training. Ultimately, it worked and we won, making professional MMA legal in WV.

I was not an MMA promoter, so I didn’t have anything to gain by doing all that. I just wanted to do what was fair and right for everyone who trained MMA in our state. It made no sense why we remained as one of the only states out their blocking the most popular martial art and pay-per-view draw. I was happy to be part of such a great thing and I hope it continues to grow in WV.

Since I mentioned not being an MMA promoter, I will mention that I did help with a couple shows and promoted a couple shows on my own. The sole purpose was to help MMA get off on the right foot in WV after all the hard work we did. So, I still don’t consider myself a MMA promoter because I have no desire to actually put on shows. I just enjoy seeing our local athletes get the opportunities they deserve.

KKD: What inspired you to do the WV Games?

Butch: WV Games is a collection of sports that we feature on Magic Island every year. The idea behind it is to showcase some sports and activities for the general public that they can not only watch and enjoy, but hopefully spark an interest for them to join in the future. Generally, we have competitions in crossfit, power lifting, jet ski, volleyball, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, running, basketball, and many more.

Samantha Carney and the Charleston Visitors Bureau have really helped take this thing to the next level and I am lucky to be part of something they work so hard at. I am the WV Games coordinator but Samantha and the CVB really do all of the difficult leg work and preparation, so they deserve all the credit in the world.

I hope to have WV Games continue to grow. Currently, our state championships for BJJ has exploded and people come from all around the US to compete there. It’s amazing to see all of these people out their having fun and surrounded by positive energy. People love it and I am proud to be a part of something so positive for our sport, city, and state.

KKD: Be sure to tune in next week for the Part 4 of the interview with Butch Hiles.

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