The 41st Round

Since no one has done this yet, at least to our knowledge, despite the fact that there have been several references to it on television and in print, we figured we'd reproduce the letter Senator Harry Reid sent to John McCain, relative to the Nevada Commission controversy, with our commentary posted underneath:

The Honorable John McCain
United States Senator
241 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear John,

I was disappointed to learn of your recent letter to Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn regarding members of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. As you know, Nevada's Commission has been regarded as the authority on professional boxing for the last 20 years. It has led the country, in fact the world, in implementing terms of boxing safety and ethical treatment of fighters, promoters, and ringside personnel. Appointments to the Commission are made by the Nevada Governor with the deepest sense of duty and obligation to protect the integrity of boxing.

Dr. Tony Alamo's outstanding credentials and deep commitment to the sport of boxing are what led Governor Guinn to appoint him to the Commission in 2001. He was appointed Vice-Chairman in January of 2003. His voting record speaks to his integrity, judiciousness and intelligence, and he continually consults with the Nevada Attorney General's office and follows their directives.

Before serving as a Commissioner, Dr. Alamo served as a ringside doctor. Dr. Alamo has made it known, both in words and actions, his priorities are the health of boxers, the State of Nevada, and the state of boxing. I think you and I share his priorities, and I am personally grateful for his service.

The fact that Dr. Alamo's father, Tony Alamo Sr., is a Senior Vice-President of Mandalay Resort Group has no bearing on decisions he makes as a Commissioner on the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Dr. Alamo has no financial or other interest in the Mandalay Bay. Additionally, Dr. Alamo reads a disclaimer before functioning in his role as a Commissioner anytime Mandalay Bay is the site for a fight. At the time of Dr. Alamo's
appointment to the Commission, Governor Guinn was aware of his father working at the Mandalay Bay, yet after careful review, he concluded there was not a conflict of interest and, as I have indicated, Dr. Alamo's service on the Commission has been exemplary and beneficial to the honor of the sport.

I do not know if the intent of your letter is to bolster support for your bill to create a national regulatory commission to oversee the sport of boxing. However, I already have expressed my desire to create a national commission by authoring the National Boxing Commission Act of 2001, a bill you co-sponsored. Soon thereafter you introduced your own bill to create a national commission, and we are in agreement on the importance of such a panel.

I am confident the Nevada State Athletic Commission, under the outstanding direction of Marc Ratner, will continue to be the best commission in the sport of boxing. Our Commission not only serves as a model for a national commission but offers its support in the creation of such. And as we agree, a national commission is necessary for the future of the sport.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you wish to discuss this matter further.

United States Senator

When reading this letter, I found it most interesting that Senator Reid went out of his way to single out Tony Alamo Jr. for praise, while conspicuously leaving Luther Mack's name out of it. It's not unreasonable to be highly suspicious of that, considering that thus far, only Mack has been directly accused of any wrongdoing by the “investigative team” at ESPN.

I was curious as to what Mack thought of all that. Unfortunately, we have yet to get a response from him.

Of course, an explanation for the direction of Reid's letter may reside in the fact that just thirteen days before it was written – on February 14, to be precise – a big political fund-raiser was held for Reid at – you guessed it – Mandalay Bay. Everybody got a dinner, and everybody went to the show. For Reid, who has received a significant level of support thus far from trial attorneys but may very well need a lot of casino dollars to get re-elected next year, the opportunity to embrace this kind of issue couldn't have come at a better time.

Pandering to Alamo Jr., the son of Mandalay Bay executive/licensee Tony Alamo Sr., is the politically prudent move, especially as the Mandalay Resort Group has been known to heavily back the [political campaigns of eventual winners, including Governor Guinn himself, who, as has been highlighted in one of our earlier stories, once accepted $300,000 from the group (formerly known as Circus Circus Enterprises) in one day, through a number of subsidiary corporations.

Aside from the last two paragraphs, Reid's letter contains nothing that wasn't essentially a regurgitation of what the Governor and Attorney General have already written about the boxing commission.

But in fact, toward the end, Reid confirmed the same suspicions we've had all along – that McCain is really using this issue to push his own piece of legislation over Reid's.

Maybe this is my political naivete showing, but when Reid reminded McCain that he had co-sponsored the National Boxing Commission Act before coming out with a bill of his own, wasn't he intimating a little bit of a double cross?

It's clear McCain couldn't care less about “conflicts of interest” in Nevada except tot he extent that it helps him politically, otherwise he would have launched an “investigation' into two of the parties he seems to be offering moral support for –
ESPN and Teddy Atlas.

As far as Reid's own political motivation is concerned, I'm highly skeptical. I know he introduced the bill for the 'National Boxing Commission' some time ago. I prefer it to McCain's bill, because it sets up a committee structure on top, instead of a single boxing “czar”. But I wonder whether Reid really cares about pushing his bill forward at this point, or whether he's just using it as an instrument to thwart McCain's proposed legislation. This letter only adds to my suspicions.

After all, Reid's bill has never gotten very far after he referred it to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. And he hasn't made an attempt to introduce it in another committee, which he actually might be able to do.

It's clear that most people around boxing in Nevada do not want to see ANY boxing bill designed to create a national commission to regulate the sport. They figure they are well-organized enough to where they don't need any federal overseer to set “standards” for them. Then there are certain libertarian (small “l”) principles at work also – things like, 'Keep your hands out of our casinos', 'Keep your paws off our commission', and 'Keep your nose out of our business'.

In a sense, they're correct. States like Kentucky, for example, would appear to require the existence of a federal law to force them into taking certain safety provisions that just make common sense. That's not really the case in Nevada.

Up to this point, we have been led to believe that Reid's “pet issue” is the regulation of the TV networks. Indeed, that would appear to be the dividing line between him and McCain – understandable since McCain apparently has more than just a passing financial interest in one of the television networks Reid has talked about regulating (the details of which will be revealed by one of my internet colleagues).

But would Reid be willing to ditch all that for the sake of his own re-election campaign? In other words, would he be happy enough if there were no new boxing bill at all – whether it was his or McCain's – if it meant he could beef up financial support from the casinos as a result?

I'm not going to say that the things Reid says in his letter are falsehoods, but when he makes statements like “They pick on (Bob) Arum and (Don) King. They are small potatoes compared to HBO and Showtime.”, as he did to the Las Vegas Review-Journal's Royce Feour a couple of days ago, he strains credulity to a certain extent. Remember, Reid's detractors have long pointed out the generous support of interested parties like Arum and King to his campaign fund.

His message may have some level of credibility. But he is not the most credible person to be conveying that message. His allegiances are too clear to see, and like McCain, his motivations too obviously self-serving.

Copyright 2003 Total Action Inc.