WHEELING - In 2006, Jim Frio became one of only four certified boxing judges in the entire state of West Virginia.
Now, the Wheeling native is one of four West Virginia State Athletic Commissioners in the Mountain State.
''I was appointed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin about two months ago,'' Frio said. ''I was the fourth of four, so I guess you could say I'm the newest commissioner.''
Wheeling native Jim Frio holds his certificate, signed by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, which authenticates him as one of only four West Virginia State Athletic Commissioners. Frio was assigned to the Northern Panhandle district.
Each commissioner is assigned a district, with the Northern Panhandle severing as Frio's.
''A lot of things have changed (since 2006),'' Frio said. ''I was one of the few certified boxing judges. It's a good thing to be certified since MMA was passed a year ago. You have to be certified to be a part of MMA competition.''
One way the Commission can tell if one is certified is through a new rule that requires photo identifications for everyone carrying a MMA licenses.
''Inspectors, refs, judges and participants all have to be licensed,'' Frio said. ''Years past, you pay your $10 fee and your license goes from the end of June till the end of June.
''I think (photo IDs are) a very good thing because we're getting fighters from Florida and all over the country and it's a very, very good thing that we know who we're dealing with,'' Frio pointed out. ''Now, we'll know exactly who we're dealing with.''
The new rule will take effect as soon as next Wednesday during a fight in Weirton where Frio will be using new licenses.
If photo identification isn't enough, the Association of Boxing Commissions has a data base with the backgrounds of every registered MMA fighter.
''What the A.B.C. does is send the Commission all the info on the fighter,'' Frio said. ''Whether he's ever been suspended to all his injuries. Each event the Commission looks at these to make sure the fight is competitive. If we don't think it's competitive, we will not have a fight.''
The Association of Boxing Commissions is also the ruling body of MMAs in every state and even Canada have adopted its rules.
Another new rule the Commission implemented was for the commissioners to bring scales to each event.
''In the past, the promoters would bring the scales,'' Frio said. ''Now the scales are the property of the state athletic commission. Each commissioner will have their own scale.''
Most of the events will take place at Mountaineer and Wheeling Island Casino.
''There's a lot of things in the works,'' Frio noted. ''There's a great boxing event in August on Wheeling Island. Angelo Magnone, he's a local promoter who is promoting it.''
Though boxing remains Frio's favorite sport, he can't deny the fact that MMA is gaining popularity.
''We're getting more and more girls in the sport, too. Things are changing. It's not like it used to be. There's more and more of the MMA events in West Virginia. I'm anxious to see these events go on.
''MMA isn't my favorite, but I want to see it reach its highest potential,'' he said. ''As a commissioner, I want to see it be as safe as it can be. I would rather stop a fight too early and have everyone be safe then stop it too late.
''It's exciting being involved with this.''