Calgary Commission Concludes Investigation on Couture Ref Koivisto

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The Calgary Combative Sports Commission has concluded its investigation into the call made by the official, Len Koivisto, at the conclusion of the Kim Couture/Sheila Bird AX Combat fight. Here is the CCSC’s public statement, in its entirety, on the issue:

A combative sports event was held on Friday, July 8 at the Telus Convention Centre. The event and all fighters (both pro and amateur mixed martial arts fighters) were licensed pursuant to the Calgary Combative Sports Commission Bylaw 53M2006.

As standard practice, debriefing meetings are always held amongst commission members and officials following any supervised combative sports event held in Calgary. The committee discussed the call made by the official for the Couture vs. Bird bout. It was determined that a formal review would be conducted of the circumstances surrounding that call.

After an in-depth investigation, the Calgary Combative Sports Commission members rendered a decision to support the official, Mr. Len Koivisto. No further action or investigations into the officiating of Mr. Koivisto will be required by the Commission.

It is the Commission’s objective to move forward from this incident and to continue to focus its efforts on the safety, health and wellbeing of the participants involved in combative sports.

Mr. Koivisto has been involved in the combative sports industry for close to 40 years, the last 23 in various officiating capacities. He is a well respected boxing referee (nationally and internationally) and has officiated MMA (nationally) for several years in various jurisdictions in close to 400 matches without incident. He has always taken his ring official’s duties very seriously and conducts himself with a great deal of professionalism.

Mixed martial arts is the fastest moving combative sport regulated, with upwards of 30 fouls and over 130 technical components involved. The pace of the match requires a referee to be quick with both his mind and feet while assessing the numerous aspects of this sport. While making every effort not to affect the contest, the official is required to be in close enough proximity to observe the action but not so close as to inhibit the fast moving pace that can take a fight from a standing/striking battle to a ground and pound/submission hold in split seconds. The official is assessing both fighters the whole time the contest is engaged.

The Calgary Combative Sports Commission continuously communicates training opportunities to officials employed by the Commission relative to training programs in and around Canada and the US. We have an expectation that our officials will remain current in
the rules and regulations and are always seeking to improve their skills through courses and seminars. Recognized training programs are relatively new to the industry and are only recently being adopted by many Commissions. A list of approved trainers only came into fruition last year.

The Calgary Combative Sports Commission regulates, governs and controls professional combative sporting events and contestants within the city of Calgary to ensure the safety, health and wellbeing of the participants involved in combative sports. Appointed by resolution of Council, the Commission consists of seven (7) volunteer members who meet the eligibility criteria set out in Bylaw 53M2006. For more information visit calgary.ca/combativesportscommission.

22 Responses to “ Calgary Commission Concludes Investigation on Couture Ref Koivisto ”

  1. Bobby Karimi says:

    Did they investigate themselves on allowing a suspended fighter to fight?

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  2. ruckus780 says:

    Once again, My opinion only. but the commission supporting this referee just confirms to me just how far back in the stone age we actually are when it comes to reffs judging etc. I mean come on when Im watching the Bird Couture video and a female who does not watch any type of combat sports says “Holy Fuck!!! how come the ref is not stopping it, That poor girl is passed out”. There is definitely something wrong with the official

    Does anybody know of the routes one would take to be a judge a ref. Cause I truly think im hated enough to do either and knowledgable to do better then most reffs or judges in Alberta.
    Its pretty bad whenI see Cardinals reffing a bout And I cheer the ref because i know he wont be a factor in the fight itself

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  3. Jamie Locke says:

    entire body goes limp = unconcious…. It doesn’t take any ref training to know this, especially if you’ve been involved in combat sports for XX years.

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  4. Tyler Davis says:

    Wow that is terrible, as “respected” as he is, a guy off the street could have seen that kim was out. Like reffing may be demanding but it their job to protect the saftey of the fighter and he failed at that job. The fact no dicipline was issued is a total FAIL on the commision. Pull his license and make him take some jits classes.

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  5. Jamie Locke says:

    As BKB would said, there’s no need for extreme dicsipline or burning the guy at the stake. I would have liked to see them say something along the lines of.

    “Upon review of the fight, Ref Koivisto recognizes his mistake in not calling the fight sooner. Safety is the priority of referees and corrective measures have been taken to wensure this does not happen again.”

    That’s it, in a statement like this you would have recognized there was a mistake, taken responability, and then everyone ca move forward.

    It seems to me that the Calgary commission has simply dodged responsability for both allowing Couture to fight and the fact that Ref Koivisto didn’t stop the fight once she was out. They basically just released two statements on each of these incidence saying, we hear you complaints, but we don’t care. Moving on…

    I’d personally just like to see them recognize mistakes and at least lie to us and say they will fix the defiency and not let them happen again. That would be progress, where as what we have is them saying nothing will change or improve in their juresdiction.

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  6. Bobby Karimi says:

    How often does one see a league or a commission fully reprimand an official. Rarely does it happen.

    Totally expected.

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  7. Just because this is their official statement does not mean he is not reprimanded in some form.

    NHL does reprimand officials, but they do not publicly state: Kerry Fraser will only ref first round of playoffs as a result of his actions.

    It very well could be that behind the scenes, Koivisto must pass a COMMAND ref course or will unofficially not be used for 6 months or whatever.

    It may be that this statement is it, but I am just saying that there may be more to it as well.

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  8. Bobby Karimi-Busheri says:

    Yea you’re right good point Keith.

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  9. Chris Ladouceur says:

    Has the ref had similar situations happen to him before? I think the bigger picture here is that fighter safety is the most important. What happened WAS and IS dangerous. Has she or did she recover safely. Reportedly so. Judge every incedent by the outcome. IMO fair call.

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  10. ryan farse says:

    what a sham

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  11. James Petryk says:

    This is pretty ridiculous. Simply indicating that action is being taken to help prevent such events in the future would have been at least something. For the commission in Calgary to be so retarded to think that it wouldn’t be obvious that they are simply trying to save their own asses by licensing a ref multiple times that does not have even a beginner knowledge of the submission game should be embarrassing for them. Furthermore, to anyone sticking up for this statement (or the ref): Did you not know this was a submission either?

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  12. Bdc says:

    I really like keith’s point about hockey and there could be more going on behind the scene. Keith did you know Smurffs exist too… I know it’s hard to believe but they do and yes they are blue. That satement is as valid as what u wrote . Please put some sense into your post you don’t need to say something about everything!

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  13. Sean Quinn says:

    BAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!!! Keith got told!!

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  14. Robin Black says:

    There’s some good people on the Calgary Commission. When you have good people who care you will always keep improving.

    These things happen, fortunately no one was seriously hurt. The good people on the Calgary Commission will learn from the oversight with Couture’s suspension and they willget better and better.

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  15. Sean Quinn says:

    These kinds of things happen in mma…

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  16. Dean says:

    Mixed martial arts is the fastest moving combative sport regulated, with upwards of 30 fouls and over 130 technical components involved. The pace of the match requires a referee to be quick with both his mind and feet while assessing the numerous aspects of this sport. While making every effort not to affect the contest, the official is required to be in close enough proximity to observe the action but not so close as to inhibit the fast moving pace that can take a fight from a standing/striking battle to a ground and pound/submission hold in split seconds. The official is assessing both fighters the whole time the contest is engaged.

    I wanted to see if this makes sense to anyone here as the last sentence alone is crazy if the commish believes the ref was doing so. So the ref WAS infact assessing Kim? Then he infact noticed her leg quiver, saw her eyes go blank and then watched as she went limp and then after ho humming and “assessing” the situation he decided to lift her arm to see if his assessment was correct??
    I’m not sayiing that being a ref is an easy task or a pleasant one at that (a ref never does the right thing in everyones eyes)but it is their job to pay attention! The commission should not be standing by this ref based on his unblemished history or bla, bla, bla. At the end of the day, he was not quick with his mind nor his feet and the only aspect he should have been noticing was an unconscious fighter.

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  17. Robin Black says:

    Human error is a sonovabitch. No one is perfect.

    All refs and all people will make errors. We don’t look for people who are perfect (there are none)for refs, we look for people who will make as few errors as humanly possible in the context of a whole career.

    We don’t like to admit it but its the simple truth.

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  18. James Petryk says:

    Robin, it is important to note that yes, everyone makes mistakes. But in this case, it wasn’t really a “mistake” and he knew better or something. There was a clear lack of knowledge of the ground game and he should not be licensed to ref MMA fights. He is an admitted (by the commission) boxing referee. There is nothing to stick up for here. The commission made a mistake in licensing him to ref (has done so multiple times) and then after they had some time to think about it, made a mistake in not owning up to the mistake they made earlier. I don’t see a commission here that is learning from said mistakes.

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  19. Priest says:

    Here’s the twist… the sad, unfortunate, you’re-really-dropping-the-ball-here-CCSC-twist: Mr. Koivisto has taken the COMMAND course before and he failed miserably; and this was the COMMAND Judges Certification course. As a graduate of that same program, I can tell you that it’s daunting. I can also tell you that having passed the Judges course in no way qualifies me to referee a mixed martial arts bout, so how does a history as a boxing official and a failing grade on the easier of the two COMMAND courses justify Mr. Koivisto being the third person in the ring for MMA events?

    Yes, not only did Koivisto fail one of John McCarthy’s COMMAND certification courses, it wasn’t even the referee course that he failed, but the much less difficult one for judges.

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  20. Tyler Davis says:

    Dean very well put, james I aslo agree

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  21. BigBoi says:

    Couple of thoughts here:

    1. Are all COMMAND ceritfied referres infallable?

    2. Is COMMAND the accepted standard for refs training?

    3. Are there other refs (Yves, Herb etc…) who aren’t COMMAND trained?

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  22. James Petryk says:

    BigBoi, I think those are decent questions. COMMAND is something that is being used as somewhat of a standard for refs when indeed, it shouldn’t be unless it was a law or something in the province that required refs of MMA to be certified. It is not. The reason it keeps being brought up, however, is because the head of the Calgary Commission has previously indicated (and correct me if I’m wrong), that they don’t license refs unless they have passed the COMMAND “reffing” course. This statement in itself, if true, is embarrassingly untrue given the few number of refs that have done so and the fact that everyone was already talking about a ref that they had licensed multiple times and hasn’t even passed the judging one. Through and through – I don’t see how the MMA community should let the Commission in Calgary live this one down. From who they license, how they handled the incident after the fact (mistakes are gonna happen regardless of who is reffing but you can still handle appropriately after the fact), and who they have in charge. All of it.

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