By Ivan G. Goldman
The national boxing commission that would be created by a new bill sponsored by Senators John McCain and Harry Reid, who both boxed in the amateurs, would be an improvement in all those states such as Nevada and New Jersey that have perennially weak oversight. But it could be a step back for states that have strong commissions, states like — hmm, come to think of it, there aren’t any states that have strong commissions, though plenty of them are too corrupt or too stupid to know it.
In my home state of California, for example, which doesn’t have a particularly terrible reputation, I’ve seen numerous disgusting hometown decisions and some really crazy ones, crazier than Bradley over Pacquiao, believe me. I saw one lousy referee get a fighter killed. Another stood there and watched with his thumb up his ass while Victor Burgos was beaten into a cripple by thunder-fisted Vic Darchinyan. Another referee told me about the time he was officiating and a fighter got killed in the ring. Here’s how he described it: “I saw him go down, and I knew I was in trouble.” You can see what he was concerned about.
I once saw a fighter compete in a bathing suit. How do you get a mandated foul protector under a bathing suit? You don’t. Another time a fighter failed to show up for a WBO title fight at an Indian casino and the promoter actually pulled a fighter out of the crowd and had him jump into the ring. He was way over the weight.
When Antonio Margarito was caught with loaded wraps in California, it wasn’t anyone from the commission that caught him. It was savvy East Coast trainer Naasim Richardson. And when Naz found the load in one glove, the inspector actually refused to order the other hand to be unwrapped because he’d already signed it. (That inspector was promoted shortly afterward) When Naz finally got inspector Dean Lohuis to overrule him and get the wraps taken off, another plaster load fell out. Lohuis? He was fired only weeks later. I kid you not. If you think there’s no connection between an inspector doing something wrong and getting promoted and another doing something right and getting fired, you’d be wrong. These weren’t accidents. Nobody knows the troubles I’ve seen.
Incidentally, Margarito’s loaded wraps, discovered before he went out and got his head handed to him by Shane Mosley, were evidence of a conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, a felony. But the commission was too stupid to call a cop and tainted the evidence by failing to secure a proper chain of custody. Margarito probably used loaded wraps for years in California, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York — where the “top” four commissions do their dirty, dumb work. The plaster-reinforced wraps Richardson discovered were bloodied from previous use.
I once counted four father-and-son teams working for the California commission in one capacity or another, all at the same time. Last names Denkin, Kin, De Luca, and Caiz. Yet the commission insists nepotism has nothing to do with its hiring decisions. Then there was the chief executive officer who admitted to me he didn’t know much about boxing but insisted it didn’t matter because he knew a lot about the rules governing state commissions. Honest.
Every state and tribal commission has tales like this to tell, but in most cases there are no journalists watching these guys so they get away with murder. Boxing is barely covered by daily newspapers or local TV stations, and there’s not enough advertising money to keep regional Internet boxing sites in business. Commissions act like bankers who leave the safe open overnight so their pals can come in and grab loot whenever they’re short on cash.
You know how New Jersey’s former chief commissioner Larry Hazzard is always praised by analysts who say he really cares about fighters? Those schmucks have no idea what they’re talking about. They just repeat each other without looking at facts. I remember a California fighter who competed in Atlantic City and was paid with a bum check by the promoter out there. His trainer asked me to call New Jersey for him, and I couldn’t get Hazzard to do anything about it or even come to the phone. I don’t mean I called him once either. I left detailed messages, talked to his assistant, sent faxes, you name it. No one there cared.
The national commission envisioned by McCain and Reid’s bill, which they introduced after being sickened by the Bradley-Pacquiao decision, would oversee licensing and have power over local commissions. It wouldn’t be a complete cure. We’d still have problems. But after watching these state commissions for years, I’m willing to give it a shot.
Ivan G. Goldman’s latest novel Isaac: A Modern Fable came out in April 2012 from Permanent Press. Information HERE
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