By Bryanna Fissori
Boxing is a violent sport by nature, and it is undisputed that its champions have the physical ability and mental capacity to use their hands as fierce weapons when called upon, but there is a time and a place for everything.
Domestic violence is never to be taken lightly, but in the case of a professional fighter the severity of the situation is often heightened.
Good news came this week for Yuriorkis Gamboa, 29-year-old undefeated IBF and WBA featherweight (126 lbs.) world champion. On June 22 charges were dropped against him stemming from a physical and verbal altercation with his wife Francisco in the early hours of May 5 at their Miami home. The incident landed “The Cyclone of Guantanamo” in jail where bail was set for $1500. Reports state that the boxer grabbed the back of his wife’s neck and arm to prevent her from leaving the residence with their son.
Florida Statute 741.28 defines domestic violence as “any assault, battery, sexual assault, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another who is or was residing in the same single dwelling unit”.
The claim of assault typically carries the easiest burden of proof to meets since an assault virtually always accompanies battery and sexual assault cannot occur without the elements of a general assault. The legal definition of an assault varies across jurisdictions. Depending on the authority the cause of action may or may not require physical contact. In Florida it does not, as is fairly common. The basis for the claim of assault in the jurisdiction is an intentional and unlawful threat which can be either verbal or physical. The act must create an imminent fear of violence.
Depending on the severity of the action it can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Florida law requires that the person deemed to be the “aggressor” in the situation be taken to jail, which is undoubtedly why Gamboa ended up there. Statements are not always taken by officers at the scene, but frequently taken once the suspect has been taken into custody.
Because domestic violence is a criminal and not a civil offense the charge was taken up by the state attorney, who could not find enough evidence against Gamboa to make a case. Evidence could consist of, but is not limited to, such things as witness testimony, photos of the supposed abuse and doctor’s notes. There will be no further action on the allegations.
Like Gamboa, many of his fellow competitors have crossed paths with domestic violence charges. Some of the most notable are Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Edwin Valero and Floyd Mayweather Jr. Most of these cases resulted in much longer and more dramatic legal battles than Gamboa’s.
Mayweather currently faces charges of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, Josie Harris. That allegation coupled with charges of felony counts of grand larceny, coercion and robbery could potentially land the fighter 34 years in prison. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for October, which is interestingly around the same time he is supposed to face off against Victor Ortiz.
With the weight of impending lawsuit lifted, Gamboa will be preparing for a September 10 bout against an unnamed competitor. The HBO event will be certainly be a proper time and place to unleash his weapons.