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Fight Club owner plans to run for Newport council

Englebrecht cites the city's handling of fire rings issue as his motivation to seek office.

July 25, 2013|By Jill Cowan
  • Local boxing/MMA promoter Roy Englebrecht is planning to run for Newport Beach City Council.
Local boxing/MMA promoter Roy Englebrecht is planning… (Lawrence K. Ho /…)

Roy Englebrecht is spoiling for a fight — this time in the political arena.

The longtime fight promoter and Newport Beach resident announced plans to run for the city's District 4 council seat, which will be vacated by Councilwoman Leslie Daigle in November 2014, when she's termed out.

Englebrecht cited the beach fire rings issue as the reason he decided to run.

"It was really the fire rings issue and the way it was handled," he said Wednesday when asked what factored into his decision. "I'm not a complainer ... and I'm going to put my money where my mouth is and say, 'If you don't like it, change it.' This was an issue that just really hit me between the eyes."

According to the Fight Club OC website, Englebrecht is the company's chief executive. The company stages boxing matches and other types of fights at various area venues, including the Orange County Fairgrounds.

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Englebrecht is also the owner of fight promoter Roy Englebrecht Promotions.

The council in March 2012 voted to ask the California Coastal Commission for permission to get rid of Newport's 60 fire rings, saying they posed a health risk to residents living nearby.

That discussion spurred regional air quality regulators to consider a fire ring ban, which would have affected beaches throughout Orange and Los Angeles counties.

Earlier this month, after a major public outcry, the South Coast Air Quality Management District adopted a kind of compromise with regulations that would leave most fire rings intact, but could still result in their removal from the beaches of Newport.

The Newport council, after an intense debatevoted unanimously to move forward with plans to get rid of the rings.

"I was there from the beginning, in February [2012], when the city asked the [Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission] to take public comment," Englebrecht said. "This wasn't an issue about smoke, it wasn't about fire, it wasn't about rings. It was about access to the public beach for everybody, when a few people wanted to change that."

Englebrecht, 67, still serves on the city's Parks, Beaches and Recreation Commission.

Recently, Daigle has publicly changed her position, saying that after discussions with constituents, she has decided to support leaving all the city's wood-burning fire rings in place.

City officials have agreed to work with the AQMD on an alternative fuel fire ring pilot program. The council will likely consider a variety of options in coming months.

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