You know, I figured that since I took the time to sit and watch last Wednesday's hearing before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation (or Science, Commerce and Transportation, whichever you prefer), I might as well craft a couple of columns out of it, since there were a few occasions where I had to sit up straight, lest risk falling out of my chair.
So here are some reflections on the hearing and what was said:
First of all, it wasn't really a COMMITTEE. For that matter, it wasn't really a sub-committee. Rather, it was more or less just Senator John McCain and Senator Frank Dorgan who compiled the Senate side of things here. And McCain arrived fashionably late with a grand entrance.................I don't know if Roy Jones had very much to contribute coming into the proceeding, but this multi-millionaire did indeed know how to portray himself as a "victim", didn't he? All I've got to say to him is - why complain about not being able to get a show on HBO to promote some of your fighters? If you were negotiating a deal with the network, in which it would commit to you for a certain number of fights, why didn't you use your leverage as a major fighter and attraction to include a few of your own independent promotions as part of your deal? There's really no one but yourself to blame there........Incidentally, about Jones - a funny thing happened when I read his pre-submitted written testimony. Turns out it's, for the most part, extracted from the same testimony his lawyer, Fred Levin, gave before the committee a couple of years ago..............Tim Lueckenhoff, president of the ABC, mentioned that he is going to endeavor to have officials trained as part of the organization's next convention. I certainly hope Jack Kerns and his Kentucky staff aren't among the instructors.............Lueckenhoff also recommended that promoters be compelled to provide collateral or a letter of credit in conjunction with meeting their obligations as per every show. I certainly hope that gets attention - I could tell you a few stories (and if we have the time, we certainly will) where a letter of credit on the part of a promoter would have prevented eventual, and absolute, bedlam and confusion................Another Lueckenhoff statement, echoed by others - every state should be empowered to appoint its own officials for a championship fight, so as to offset the damage that can be caused by any undue "influence" sanctioning body may exert over its own appointed officials. I like the spirit of this, but in practice it may not work so well. I'll elaborate in a separate story down the line................
I noticed McCain fell into that "eight divisions" nonsense, as did Bert Sugar, to an extent. As we already explained in
, the expanded division format makes plenty of sense, both from the standpoint of safety and simple reality. McCain's impression seems to be that USA Today is attempting to "bring credibility" back to the ratings by listing just eight divisions. I think he would get a slightly different answer if he just asked Dan Rafael about it..............The problem is that people don't RECOGNIZE the problem - they confuse the proliferation of sanctioning organizations with an over-saturation of weight divisions................
Tim Lueckenhoff complained that there have been major problems with the enforcement of the Ali Act, because when he contacted three different attorneys general with regard to various violations of the Act, he got no response in particular. Why? "Because I don't think there's any awareness of the Ali Act", or words to that effect, was Lueckenhoff's answer. Well, look - the Professional Boxer Safety Act, as well as the Ali Act, empowers the Association of Boxing Commissions (ABC) to do certain things. One of those things is to send commissioners from one state into another state that may not have a boxing commission (a subject we're also going to be covering at length). But the point is, I'm going to venture to say that those people who crafted, then voted on, the Ali legislation don't have the time to get on the phone with every attorney general's office and explains the ramifications of the bill to them. But those people with the ABC, who have been vested with at least SOME responsibility here, DO. So if there isn't any awareness of the Ali Act, whose fault is it really?
Lou DiBella made a good point when he mentioned that the roles of manager and promoter are a whole lot different than they used to be. There's no question that a promoter has a different function than he did, say, 30 years ago, and that the manager has more or less been phased out of the equation, with a few exceptions, yet, the boxing laws seem to be written with a somewhat distorted notion of what those particular entities are doing. However, if you were to recognize what the REAL roles of the manager and promoter are, you'd actually have to sit down and re-write all the existing Federal laws having to do with boxing, including the prospective legislation McCain's committee is trying to push through. And as we know by now, that's more trouble than these guys are probably willing to undertake............
Far too much of the limited time was spent touching upon Bruce "The Mouse" Strauss, judges' decisions that didn't quite please the Senators, and what a bad guy Mike Tyson is. And not ONE WORD about the lawbreakers on the Kentucky Athletic Commission.
Another theme that seemed to be maintained throughout - that the promoter pays the officials. In most jurisdictions in this country, the promoter doesn't pay the officials, any more than the network televising an event directly pays the fighters. In television, the network pays a promoter, who in turn, pays the fighters. As far as commissions or sanctioning bodies go, they collect their fees according to whatever schedule they've established, then from what they've collected, they pay the officials. Pretty much as simple as that. As for the hotels, the trips, the "favors" - well, that's another story - and another installment...................
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