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The first rule of fight club is that it can land you in the clink. 31 Memphis area students are due to be charged for crimes relating to planned fights which were recorded and shown online. Another 5 teenagers in Monterey, California were arrested this week for planned fights (and unplanned fights that surrounded the planned fights). These cases answer again a question that has cropped up since the movie Fight Club came out 10 years ago: Yes, participating in fight clubs is generally illegal.
One feature of fight club cases, like the one described by the Memphis Commercial Appeal, is that identifying suspects can prove an easy task. That's because the only detective work involved after being alerted to the fights might be doing a little bit of YouTube searching for fight club videos posted by the participants or organizers.
As reported by the Monterey County Herald, the same held true for some of the teens arrested this week in California. That desire to see one's own fight on the little screen comes at a cost.
So, what laws might fight clubs violate?
Laws vary by state, but first of all there will typically be an assault charge. This applies even if the fight is consensual, though in some states, assault resulting from a consensual fight might be punished less harshly. If the fight leads to serious injury, or involves a weapon, a fight club participant can be charged with felony aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, or homicide should the opponent die.
Often, there will be a disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace charge as well.
In many states, such as Tennessee, fight club fighters can also be charged with participating in unregulated prize fighting. Because they are inherently dangerous, states put regulations around sports like boxing (and ultimate fighting). Organizing or participating in fighting events outside of these regulations is often a crime.