Show stopper! Grappling with its own rule book, state erroneously halts male-female wrestling match

Busted brawl: Referee Kris Levin tries to reason with state athletics commissioner Robert Orlando, left, who incorrectly halted a fight between Marc Hauss and Jessie Brooks on Aug. 19.
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Let’s get ready to grumble!

Wrestling fans are accusing the state of sexism after the Athletic Commission tried to flex its muscle and end a Bath Beach wrestling match on Aug. 19, falsely claiming it is illegal for a man and a woman to brawl in a sport that is more performance art than actual pugilism. But the state rule book says no such thing — in fact battles of the sexes are a regular occurrence in the world of staged fight-sport — and the state’s paternalistic display even scandalized a battle-hardened ref who has seen it all, he said.

“I was shocked,” said Kris Levin, who officiated the match. “It’s disgusting that, in 2016, someone would make a call to stop a match because a wrestler is a woman.”

Deputy commissioner Robert Orlando halted a bout between “Bonesaw” Jessie Brooks and “The American Villain” Marc Hauss at St. Finbar Roman Catholic Church less than a minute after it began, claiming that dude and dudette may not legally duke it out in the state of New York — even in fictive fights.

The outraged began crowd chanting “f--- that guy” and “this is bull----,” a video shows.

Brooks, a Brooklyn native who has wrestled for seven years between school and day jobs, has faced her share of insults and obstacles on the road to becoming a respected wrestler, but the state has never taken issue with her gender before Friday, she said.

“I couldn’t believe what was happening,” said Brooks. “I was upset. For weeks I was looking forward to this. If they had an issue with the match they should have said something weeks ago, not 40 seconds into the match.”

Orlando eventually submitted and let the fight go on after consulting the rule book and making multiple phone calls to state officials.

The rule is intended to prevent men and women from boxing against one another, and the commission regrets the error and plans on holding additional staff-training sessions, an Athletic Commission spokesman said.

“The Commission’s position is that all persons must be treated fairly and with respect at Commission-related events,” said the spokesman.

Reach reporter Caroline Spivack at or by calling (718) 260–2517. Follow her on Twitter @carolinespivack.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reader feedback

Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Wow. When will all the old people just go away and take their outdated horribleness with them?
Aug. 24, 2016, 10:10 am
Dave from Beverly sq. west says:
Joe, what exactly did you mean by "old people" and "outdated".
The guy misinterpreted a wrestling rule.
Aug. 24, 2016, 5:51 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
What do you mean by "Joe"?
Aug. 25, 2016, 12:44 pm
Jim from Cobble Hill says:
Only an old person would have such an outdated notion of gender roles that they would "misinterpret" a rule like that. Just looking at Robert Orlando makes you think of some small town football coach who thinks date-rape is a team sport (yes you can see plenty of that buzz-cut sporting penis with glasses in the video of the incident).
Aug. 25, 2016, 12:50 pm
Andrea from NJ says:
I have been a fan of Jessie Brooks for a couple of years and have seen her wrestle guys, twice her size, and not one match has been stopped.
Even though I wasn't at the show, I've read stories from people that were there and have to give KRIS LEVIN, Kudos for standing up for what he felt was a misjustice.
Aug. 27, 2016, 12:49 pm

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