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At the Dark Mofo Festival in Hobart over the weekend, wrestlers beat each other to a pulp to the cheers of a bloody-thirsty crowd. 

These photos demonstrate the degree of violence and amount of blood that can spill in the world of sport. Whether wrestler, boxer or footy player, part of the game is to inflict pain. The question is if wrestlers are beating each other senseless, why aren’t they being rounded up by the police and charged with assault?

Criminal lawyer Joseph Correy says “The law says that with sport there is a public interest in allowing these events to be staged and for these sports to exist. If physical contact wasn’t allowed in a sporting context, most sports loved by Australians would cease to exist. The difference between to blokes punching on in a pub and to boxers punching on in the ring is that later is regarded as in the public interest and the other is not”.

The law actually treats some sports differently. The courts have held there is no assault in a professional boxing match. In rugby league, the courts have placed a boundary on what degree of violence is acceptable. It can be an assault where an injury is inflicted that isn’t in the legitimate pursuit of the objects of the game or during the course of play in accordance with the rules. However, even with this limitation on the kind of violence allowed on the footy field, ultimately the court will look at the particular circumstances and decide whether the act of the accused should be considered in the public interest as being criminal,” he said.

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