Legal Ruling May Force Reclusive Boxing Godfather Al Haymon into Public View
By Ivan G. Goldman
A recent judge’s ruling forces boxing godfather Al Haymon to decide whether his deeply valued privacy is only a preference or a full-fledged compulsion he can’t control.
Because it looks more and more like the rarely spotted and never interviewed Haymon may have to testify in open court to defend himself against a $300 million antitrust suit filed by Oscar De La Hoya. Judges allow news media and sometimes even TV cameras inside courtrooms. That would expose the prizefighting mogul to the kind of open scrutiny he ardently avoids.
Los Angeles Judge John F. Walter ruled that Haymon can’t hide behind private arbitration proceedings to fight the suit. That means at some point he’ll be confronted by the need to answer questions posed by De La Hoya’s lawyers in private depositions that could be followed by open court proceedings.
When Haymon’s golden goose Floyd Mayweather was faced with a similar choice in a defamation lawsuit filed by Manny Pacquiao, Mayweather failed to show up to answer hostile questions posed by Pacquiao’s lawyers. Not much later he settled out of court, probably for millions.
In Floyd’s case he’d made repeated accusations concerning performance-enhancing substances that he clearly couldn’t back up with evidence. Unlike Haymon, he had no deep-seated need for privacy, but he was faced with legal challenges he couldn’t escape, so he paid Pacquiao with money and an open retraction.
Haymon could probably make a similar deal, but De La Hoya is unlikely to settle for mere millions. Regardless of the relative strength of his case, De La Hoya, aware of Haymon’s obsession with privacy, could hold out for some astronomical figure, which could create a breach between Haymon and his investors. His investors, as far as we know, harbor no privacy fetishes.
De La Hoya, who presides over Golden Boy Promotions, claims that Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions entity uses monopolistic practices that violate antitrust statutes. Bob Arum’s Top Rank Promotions has filed a similar lawsuit against Haymon, whose PBC presents fights on several large TV networks and hires other promoters to work alongside his people.
In April the Association of Boxing Commissions sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking the Justice Department to launch an investigation into Haymon’s business practices. That letter will no doubt be cited in any civil actions against him.
Haymon’s PBC once boasted it had 200 fighters under contract. The real number is unknown and clearly fluctuates, but lots of PBC prizefighters thank God and Haymon in their post-fight statements.
De La Hoya’s lawsuit also involves practices by the former CEO of his own company, Richard Schaefer, who had a close working relationship with Haymon.
Schaefer and De La Hoya settled their dispute through arbitration that apparently prevented Schaefer from working in the boxing industry for a specified time.
It’s been widely reported that Schaefer’s legally ordered exile is over and presumably he’s now eligible to take a job with Haymon. But if that job has materialized, it certainly hasn’t been announced. And we don’t know for sure whether Schaefer’s legal exile has ended.
It’s also widely presumed that Haymon has a policy of never talking to members of the news media, but he also seems to have a policy of never announcing what his policies are, so who knows? But plaintiffs are pursuing legal measures that just might tell us more about the inner workings of Haymon’s enterprise and his own personal preoccupations.
Ivan G. Goldman’s 5th novel The Debtor Class is a ‘gripping …triumphant read,’ says Publishers Weekly. A future cult classic with ‘howlingly funny dialogue,’ says Booklist. Available now from Permanent Press wherever fine books are sold. Goldman is a New York Times best-selling author.