PROVO -- While concerns grow about the fad of fight clubs, consensual combat appears to be legal -- at least in many cities and in the format being used by the Fight Club in Provo.

So, why can't police arrest the combatants duking it out in a park to the cheers of hundreds of spectators? There is no state law that bans "consensual altercation," as it is called in legal code.There is a law enacted in 1997 prohibiting "ultimate fighting," but the format used by the Provo Fight Club does not fall under this statute because no admission fee is charged.

Match rules used by the club also do not permit combative techniques other than boxing.

If prosecutors tried to include the consensual combat under current battery and assault laws, activities such as war games with paint ball guns would also be prohibited.

"It appears to me that it would take a statute more narrowly drawn to cover an activity like this," Utah County Attorney Kay Bryson said.

Some cities have laws prohibiting mutual combat, which were enacted mainly so prosecutors did not have to show who assaulted who in barroom brawls, but Provo is not one of them. There also is no Utah County ordinance prohibiting consensual fights.

The staged fighting events possibly violate the state's disorderly conduct statute. Under that law, a person who "engages in fighting or in violent, tumultuous, or threatening behavior" is guilty of disorderly conduct.

It is also disorderly conduct to make "unreasonable noises in a public place." Disorderly conduct is an infraction unless the activity continues after a warning from police -- after which it becomes a class C misdemeanor.

If police chose to use this statute to stop the consensual fighting, they could probably target only those fighting and the event organizers. Other laws that might be used by law enforcement to stop the fight events are curfew, trespassing and disturbing the peace ordinances.

Provo police were called to a fight event Monday night in Kiwanis Park after neighbors complained about the large gathering.

By the time officers arrived, however, the fighting was over and the group was leaving the area. Provo Police Capt. Keith Teuscher said the department has not discussed how to deal with the fight events but will if residents continue to complain.

"If it becomes a problem, we will address it and see what we can do to solve it," Teuscher said. "If they are breaking the law, we will prosecute them."

Should a participant die from injuries suffered in one of the staged bouts, the fact that the fight was consensual might not be a defense against homicide charges. State law says the "consensual" issue cannot be used as a defense if a dangerous weapon is used in the combat.

In many legal instances, fists have been deemed as dangerous weapons.

Legal experts also say fight organizers and participants are subjecting themselves to liability issues by holding the events in unsafe settings rather than a properly equipped boxing ring, with properly trained referees, experts monitoring the bouts and trained medical personnel on hand.

BYU is hesitant to say whether students are violating the school's strict honor code by participating in the violent club. "This matter has just come the the university's attention," said Carri Jenkins, the university's spokeswoman. "Because of the safety issues involved . . . we discourage our students from becoming involved in any type of activity like this."