A Short History of the Modified Motorcycle Association of Arizona
In the beginning, there was Ron Roloff. For those of you that had never met or got to know Ron, I must tell you that all “Bikers” owe him, first and foremost for being one of the originals, and I believe, the greatest advocate for motorcyclists’ “bikers” rights in the world.
Ron Roloff founded the MMA of California (during extremely difficult times) in March of 1973.
By the time Richard M. Lester met him in 1982, the Modified Motorcycle Association of California was the largest Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO) in the world.
Eventually, when they both got to know and trust each other, Ron and Richard became not only friends but allies in their common fight against discrimination and harassment of “Bikers” and as advocates for the rights of street riders in freedom of choice, for the right to be left alone (if not committing an offense), and for their lifestyle.
In 1978, Richard and I started law school together and became friends. Richard and I graduated from law school in 1981, passed the bar exam on the first attempt, and set up separate law offices. Soon thereafter, Richard told me that he had been giving talks at various MMA meetings and that the response indicated to him that bikers/motorcyclists were a class of people who were basically shunned by society and attorneys in general and who needed our help to “Know their Rights.”
Over the next several months Richard and I negotiated the terms (probably one of the hardest negotiations I’ve ever been through) of a partnership wherein I would open the first satellite office for “the firm” in San Diego, CA.
The San Diego office took off and Richard was soon opening offices all over California. In early 1985, I told Richard that I was also getting calls from bikers in Arizona (many California bikers had moved and were moving to Arizona), plus word of mouth of the success of that office (with its close ties to Arizona) and the other offices, had traveled there as well. He asked me to set up an associate attorney’s office in Arizona and to start attending runs, events, meetings etc. there.
I did so and over the next 2 years put nearly 45, 000 miles on my (then new) Trike, attended over 50 runs, events and meetings all over Arizona, where I spoke and was constantly being approached by ex-MMA of Calif. Members and others asking why there wasn’t an MRO in Arizona and that one or more was needed.
Early on, when I first started hearing the need for an MRO in Arizona in 1985, I spent time with Richard and Ron to find out what steps I should take to implement it. Ron (as he had already done with me in Calif. with Bikers and the biker lifestyle) mentored me in the right way to introduce an MRO to Arizona and who I should contact, consult and get assurances from that this could be accomplished.
Ron only asked that if he and the Board granted the use of the name of the Modified Motorcycle Association and its logo, that its use as MMA of Arizona, would be on the condition that the name or logo would never be used to offend any motorcycle club, as the MMA is not a club, but an MRO and that the organization would exist only for the benefit of all Bikers/Motorcyclists and never take a stand against “Freedom of Choice.”
Over many months, I spoke with everyone (independents, clubbers and especially the major club in Arizona at that time) who would listen. Many were concerned that an MMA of Arizona would be controlled from outside or attempt to control the Arizona clubs. I got assurances from Ron that the MMA of Arizona would be totally autonomous and independent (except for the previous conditions) and would respect and stay out of the business of all Arizona motorcycle clubs and would be there only to advocate and help protect their lifestyle.
After many months and sometimes grueling interrogations we were allowed to hold the first meeting of the MMA in Tucson, AZ (at that time, the largest “Biker” population in the state) in early 1987.
I paid for sending out 3,000 notices to A.I.M. sign ups (from all over the state) who had indicated an interest in motorcyclists’ rights and also paid for and sent out flyers to motorcycle establishments to be posted
I reserved a hall in Tucson, and with Richard Lester and Ron Roloff present and expecting only a few dozen to show up, were blown away when the hall was full and overflowing with approximately 300 Bikers in attendance for the first meeting and the MMA of Arizona was born. Special thanks should also go out to “Pipe” of Tucson for his early help and lasting support.
- June of 1987: Modified Motorcycle Association of Arizona incorporation paperwork was filed.
The original organization’s officers:
President – Tom Jackley (& wife Debbie)(Tucson)
Vice Pres. – Arnold F. Byrd (Page)
Sec. / Tres. – Doris Whitt (Tucson)
The Board of Directors had 7 members
- 1989 to 1993 – Dennis Bye (Casa Grande)essentially ran the organization as Pres. / Chairman / and everything else.
- June of 1993 – Dennis Bye resigned.
- 1993 to 1994 – Clyde Starnes became Chairman
- 1994 - The Board voted to reinstate governance of the MMA by its officers. Tom “Tom Cat” Buban became the President of the MMA and moved the MMA State offices to his Tattoo business in Tucson.
- Jan. 22, 1995 – Bill Justice (Page), who had been a member since the beginning (and on the Board), was officially elected as Chairman of the MMA and the positions of President and Vice President were eliminated. Bill was also appointed as Co-Advisor and Board member of NCOM. (Priest who had been active in the Phoenix District of the MMA since its launch in December of 1991 and District Manager of North Phoenix since 1994, was also elected to the Board).
- Feb. 18, 1995 – Before a transfer of the MMA’s Records and equipment to Bill Justice in Page, could be accomplished, “Tom Cat’s” business and the building (where all of the MMA’s possessions were housed) was firebombed and everything was destroyed.
- 1997 – Bill Justice resigned as Chairman of the Board of the MMA and from a member of the Board of NCOM.
- 1997 – Priest (our Chairman Emeritus) became Chairman and chief lobbyist of the MMA of Arizona and Board member of NCOM. Priest should be credited with guiding a strong expansion of the MMA of Arizona throughout the Phoenix / Metro. Area and taking the MMA of Arizona to a new level of participation.
- March 25, 2004 – Priest’s wife, “Barbwire” finally lost her battle with cancer and since she was his partner almost from his beginnings with the MMA, he drifted away until he finally resigned as Chairman.
- 2005 to 2008 – C.J. Swinford became the new Chairman of the Modified Motorcycle Association of Arizona and did an excellent job in leading the organization to even bigger and better times, with the assistance of his wife Betty, who is the new Business Manager.
- 2008 to 2009 - Colin MacDiarmid became the new Chairman of the Modified Motorcycle Association of Arizona.
- 2009 to Present - Tom Corr is the new Chairman of the Modified Motorcycle Association of Arizona.
Please note that since many of the early MMA of Arizona’s records were destroyed (in the fire of Feb, 1995) I had to reconstruct its history from memory and other sources. So if I got anything wrong or left someone out who had been President or Chairman, please let me know privately and I will correct it.
It should also be stated that there have been or are hundreds perhaps thousands of volunteers who have all served and or are serving in one position or capacity or more with the MMA of Arizona that aren’t named herein but who deserve to be thanked and recognized (especially the ladies.)
Joe Eggleston (In Memoriam)
AIM Attorney, MMA Co-founder and Advisor