The 81st Round

his is the official definition of a PROMOTER, according to the Professional Boxer Safety Act:

“(9) Promoter. The term 'promoter' means the person primarily responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match.”

And this is the way it appears in the latest version of the Professional Boxing Amendments Act:

“(15) Promoter-

`(A) IN GENERAL- The term `promoter' means the person responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match.

`(B) NON-APPLICATION TO CERTAIN ENTITIES- The term `promoter' does not include a premium or other cable or satellite program service, hotel, casino, resort, or other commercial establishment hosting or sponsoring a professional boxing match unless it–

`(i) is responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing the match; and

`(ii) has a promotional agreement with a boxer in that match.

`(C) ENTITIES ENGAGING IN PROMOTIONAL ACTIVITIES THROUGH AN AFFILIATE- Notwithstanding subparagraph (B), an entity described in that subparagraph shall be considered to be a promoter if the person responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match–

`(i) is directly or indirectly under the control of, under common control with, or acting at the direction of that entity; and

`(ii) organizes, promotes, and produces the match at the direction or request of the entity.”

That, I think, is a big improvement over the original, which is important. But it still has a ways to go.

It is indeed important because the definition of a “promoter” indeed needs to be broadened to reflect reality; at the same time it “still has a ways to go”, because we know that if the new bill does not pass, we are still living with the old, general definition.

Neither definition really encompasses all the things a “promoter” can conceivably be involved with in the boxing industry. It certainly doesn't cover everything people who CALL themselves promoters do. In truth, the promoter can be many things.

A “PROMOTER” CAN BE AN ENTITY WHO:

…..As the lone party involved, is responsible for paying the purse and all other expenses, and derives revenue strictly from the sale of tickets, with no financial interests in any of the participants. This probably defines a “promoter” in the purest sense.

…..Has a straight promotional agreement with a fighter and/or his manager, in which the negotiation of the purse for each fight is conducted in good faith, governed by minimums. From the wording of the new bill, it appears rather nebulous as to whether everyone with a promotional agreement is considered a promoter.

…..Holds a promotional contract with a fighter but doesn't actually promote any shows; has that kind of contract just because it probably grants more power than a managerial contract does. Functions more as a “handler”, leasing his fighter to promoters in exchange for a promotional fee. However, isn't responsible for “organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match”, and as such, may not fit into the old OR the new definition.

…..Functions as a “site promoter”, who may or may not have an interest in the fighters, or in another promotional entity, but would be responsible for doing a lot of groundwork for a promotion, including publicity, advertising and various organizational tasks. Often pays a fee for the rights to the live gate, and must sell enough tickets to overcome that expenditure. If a larger organization is coming in from out of town to do a TV date, this would usually be the “local contact”. May very well be under the control or direction of a larger entity, and perhaps even responsible for “organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match”.

…..Is basically a “packager”, putting together talent, figuring out expenses, pricing it out, and “pre-selling” to networks and casino sites or site promoters, so that there is a pre-determined profit going into the venture. This particular party is not as risk, and may not move one muscle after he's sold the show, other than to ensure that the talent will be delivered. He doesn't really do any 'promoting', except to the network and/or casino that the show is sold to. Whether he is the “person responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match” is open for debate, although he may be “under common control” with such an entity.

…..Involves himself only in closed circuit transmissions and exhibitions of major shows. There is a market to be tapped in terms of hospitality outlets, which would buy the right to show a fight at their restaurant or bar. It is not uncommon at all for an entity to purchase the rights for a state or region and sub-license that event to locations within that territory. This entity is not “primarily responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match”, but is engaged in boxing and engaged in promoting. In some states, he is also taxed on that revenue. Perhaps he is “is directly or indirectly under the control of” a larger organization, but that is unclear.

…..Is actually a manager, but is promoting some shows through a “beard”. This can be for different reasons – maybe it's to keep his fighter active and winning, or maintain independence from having to sign a promotional contract. Either way, there is no question about who is control of the show, or who is bankrolling it. As a licensed manager, he may be insulated, but there is little doubt about the fact that he is “responsible for organizing, promoting, and producing a professional boxing match”. It's just that he is regulated as something else entirely.

…..Doesn't really do anything except function as a middleman, taking a percentage off the top, or getting a piece of the promotion. Would that qualify him as a “promoter”, or is he merely a broker? It may depend upon where his pay comes from and how much “hands-on” involvement he has with the show.

…..Is in fact an employee of the promoter, but is performing many of the promotional functions, as the promoter's direct representative, or “deputy”. Someone like this would seem to clearly fit into the category of “is directly or indirectly under the control of, under common control with, or acting at the direction of that entity”. Of course, that definition is not in effect yet.

…..Is the casino “host”, subsidizing shows, and buying live gate rights from the packager, but performs many of the promotional tasks necessary for a show to go forward, including those related to advertising, publicity, set-up, accommodations, security, ticket sales, outside sponsorship, etc. The casino can be involved to the extent that it is indeed a “promotional partner”, despite the fact that it doesn't have a promotional contract with any fighters, or an exclusive contract with any one promoter. Casinos are protected under the new definition, but their role can be interpreted to fit into the older definition that is in effect now.

…..Is a network with fighters under contract, either directly or indirectly, in which the fighter is guaranteed a certain number of fights at guaranteed minimum or specifically designated purse figures, not dissimilar to those provisions as we know them in a promotional contract between promoter and fighter.

…..Is a network with a guarantee on the table which puts it at risk in a pay-per-view situation, and which must sell sufficient subscriptions to break even. This was covered in depth in a previous chapter. Senator McCain has made sure networks are protected from classification as “promoters” in his new bill.

…..Simply backs a show financially. It could be a private person who stands back and lets everyone else do the work, but at the same time, will be the one signing the paychecks, even if he does not have the promotional license. This person is certainly “responsible”, because the show may not go on without him, but at the same time, doesn't get involved with promoting, organizing or producing the match. Where does he fit in?

…..Has some kind of involvement with the show, but really just wants to hear his name called by the ring announcer. You know – “Presented by Don King Productions IN ASSOCIATION WITH………” Hey, everybody's got an ego. And you knew there had to be something in the boxing world that was analogous to an “associate producer” credit in the movie business.

The point I'm making is that when we talk about defining someone as a promoter, what we're really doing is defining their responsibilities; we're identifying them for the purposes of subjecting them to some kind of regulation, a constraint on behavior, so that if they do not conform to certain standards, they can be disciplined.

But often the actual party that is responsible is not the one who is defined as such, and therefore might actually be insulated in one way or another from the kind of disciplinary action that might serve as a deterrent to actions that may be contrary to the best interests of boxing.

Somehow there has to be an even broader recognition of different “forms”, for lack of a better word, that a promoter can take; something that is reflective in the language in the legislation.

I'm not a lawyer; I'll leave it up to the lawyers to figure out the wording. But it wouldn't have hurt for the framers of this legislation to talk to some people with experience in the industry, rather than just a couple of brown-nosed commissioners.

When you don't exercise that kind of due diligence (Oh shit – there's that phrase AGAIN), you can have any number of people flying “under the radar screen”. And that's not a window any boxing reform measure should create.

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