Proposals for Elevating the Sport of Boxing. Part 2 (K-W) of a TSS Survey

We asked 32 noted boxing buffs this question: If you could do one thing to make boxing better, what would it be? The answers were surprisingly varied and interesting – and in some cases, downright incriminating.

Respondents were listed alphabetically. Part 1 ran from A to J, opening with the thoughts of Jim Amato and concluding with a recommendation from Jeff Jowett. This is Part 2, the final segment.

BRUCE KIELTY, boxing matchmaker, manager, and historian: Have the FBI audit the financial records of all of the four (4) major sanctioning bodies as well as the personal financial records of all of their officials. The reasons are obvious.

STUART KIRSCHENBAUM, Michigan Boxing Commissioner emeritus; co-founder, Association of Boxing Commissions: I made the following statement June 18, 1983 before the House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. on Federal Regulation of Boxing and 35 years later my opinion has not changed.

“Boxing regulation at the State level has proved to be insufficient. Ideally if all States had athletic commissions, and if all States were effective with their power; and if all States were not laden with budgetary problems; and if all States cooperated with one another, then we would not need Federal regulation. Unfortunately, idealism falls short of realism…the absence of a strong organization leaves the boxers more susceptible to exploitation and physical harm.”

ARNE LANG, TSS editor-in-chief: The first order of business would be to make some of the sanctioning bodies disappear. By throwing titles around like confetti, they have trivialized the sport. The WBA, which is foisting Manuel Charr vs. Fres Oquendo on us for the regular Heavyweight Championship of the World, is the worst offender. After I zap them into oblivion, I would exterminate one of the other major sanctioning bodies, selected at random, plus all of the fringe organizations. That would leave two. Why two instead of just one? Well, that’s the situation that prevailed throughout most of the 20th century and it would allow for true unification fights.

RON LIPTON, former fighter, veteran boxing referee, boxing historian, retired police officer: Stop using the same referees who are doing nothing whatsoever better than other officials but simply have a longstanding friendship with their respective commission and an alphabet group. No matter how ridiculous their in-the-ring behavior, or how many boxers are injured on their watch, it is forgiven, forgotten, and/or fluffed over. There are referees who have done between 300 to 1000 fights and in each fight it gets worse, so it becomes a case of the worse they do, the more they are used. There should be someone on a commission that knows what they are watching and understands it is quality, not quantity, and stop using the same ones.

“Boxing is tainted. There are too many belts, too many champions?” – Floyd Mayweather Jr.

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FRANK LOTIERZO, former boxer, writer, and lead analyst for The Boxing Channel: I want same day weigh-ins so fights are more difficult to manipulate on the scale. And I want 15-round title fights because all 10 round fighters can go 12 rounds.

PAUL MAGNO, author, writer and boxing official in Mexico: The end of corruption in boxing (or at least a good deal of it) would come as a result of changing the way officials are selected for fights. Cut off promoters from having any input in the selection of judges and other officials; make it so that they are not indirectly paying them and directly empowered to provide future gigs. Imagine if Jerry Jones helped select and then paid the officials working a Cowboys game? That’s what happens in just about every major fight in boxing. The system breeds corruption and it’s absurd that it isn’t even being remotely addressed.

ADEYINKA MAKINDE LL.B, author, boxing historian, law school lecturer: Make more boxing tournaments along the lines of the World Boxing Super Series. The cruiserweight tourney has been terrific and all divisions, particularly the heavyweights and welterweights, could seriously do with a tournament. The high level of competition, the excitement of a knockout series, and the unification of belts would surely maximize interest among aficionados and increase boxing’s marketability to casual fans.

LARRY MERCHANT, retired HBO Boxing commentator; 2009 IBHOF inductee: More money, from promoters, commissions and fans, must be streamed into amateur programs in the U.S.

FRED ROMANO, author and former HBO Executive: I would like to see major fights use five judges. While it won’t eliminate all bad decisions, I think it would reduce the number of dreadful ones.

TED SARES, TSS writer: I’d create a national pension plan; that is a defined contribution plan funded by a percentage of each boxer’s purse from each qualifying bout, potentially combined with promoter-paid matching contributions and additional voluntary contributions by the boxer. It could be structured loosely after the California State Professional Boxer’s Pension Plan but would require improvements from that plan. It would utilize (among many other things) annuities to provide income streams. Greatly improving and refining the California Plan would not be rocket science.

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“They [the fighters] have no pension, no union, no health insurance, no voice. For every George Foreman who gets rich, there are 1,000 you never hear of who end up with slurred speech, failing memory and an empty bank account.”  Jack Newfield                                         

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ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY, a man who has been involved in every facet of the sport: I would do away with all irrelevant, meaningless, historically worthless and damaging-to-boxing titles…from the regular, silver, super titles to the emeritus and the WBC-USNBC and every other worthless-to-everyone-but-the sanctioning-body titles.

MICHAEL SILVER, author, writer and historian: Outlaw all the extortionist “sanctioning fees” charged to fighters. No fighter should have to pay one penny in sanctioning fees.

CARYN TATE, boxing writer: If I had to choose one thing, it would be to enforce the correct application and order of the four criteria in scoring for all judges. As it stands now, many judges seem to apply the criteria in whatever order they like so they can erroneously justify scoring for their favorite style. Hence, we see a lot of contradictory and terrible scorecards that can have an enormously negative impact on a fighter’s career (not to mention the viewer’s enjoyment). When poor judging occurs, there should be real consequences, and TV commentators should educate fans about how the criteria should be applied and why.

BRUCE TRAMPLER, Top Rank matchmaker; 2010 IBHOF inductee: I’d like to see all the boxing commissions unify their medical standards so that fighters and promoters don’t have to constantly spend and update from state to state. And have boxer licenses good across the country, like a driver’s license.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMS, voice of “Boxing on the Beltway”: I would make one universal boxing organization or a federal commission. Combine everybody and all rankings and rules into one governing body.

PETER WOOD 1971 New York City Golden Gloves middleweight finalist and author:  Amateurs forced to wear headgear during a match has damaged the sport and has diluted boxing’s enjoyment. This politically-correct move has wussified boxing. The visceral impact, the spectacle, and human drama, has been muted. A young kid today is not going to be attracted to boxing because it is now, essentially, a glorified sparring match. He and she are now turning to UFC and MMA for their blood-lust.

Observations:

The most common complaint was that there are too many federations and too many titles. In the main, respondents concurred with Dr. Margaret Goodman that there is a clear need for a national or centralized commission that would act as a governing body.

Ted Sares is one of the oldest active full power (raw modern) lifters in the world and is a four-time winner of the EPF’s Grand Master championship. A member of Ring 4’s Boxing Hall of Fame, he was recently cited by Hannibal Boxing as one of three “Must-Read” boxing writers.

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