An Open Letter to Ron Scott Stevens

Dear Ron,
Congratulations on your appointment as chairman of the New York State Athletic Commission. You come to the job with better credentials than any chairman in recent memory. But your job is more difficult than their's was because these are hard times for boxing in New York.

The economy is lousy. State taxes are high. Casinos offer site fees that are difficult to match. It's more expensive to promote in Manhattan than anywhere else. And you're taking over a commission that has been weakened by years of corruption and neglect.

Still, you know the business. You're honest. You can get boxing on track again if you adhere to the following:

Study what needs to be done before you act. The NYSAC has been damaged by years of malfeasance. You can't fix everything overnight.

Clean house, but not indiscriminately. Evaluate everyone on the fulltime staff or working per diem at the NYSAC. Keep the good public servants and get rid of the rest.

Reach out to the professionals at other commissions for advice. The good ones will share their expertise.

Take a long hard look at your medical department. Getting some thoughts from Flip Homansky and Margaret Goodman would be a good way to start.

Bring some knowledgeable veterans like Joe Dwyer, Tony Mazzarella, Tom Hoover, and Billy Backus back into the NYSAC fold.

When an inspector slot opens up, seek out former fighters to fill the job. Encourage former fighters to develop the skills necessary to referee fights. Use them as judges. But as with other job applicants, make sure they're qualified.

Your old boss, Cedric Kushner, wants to promote on a regular basis in the Big Apple. So do Joe DeGuardia, Tommy Gallagher, and a handful of others. Encourage the state and city PR machinery to give their shows a boost.

Caucus with Seth Abraham for as long as it takes to bring boxing back to Madison Square Garden.

Right now, there's a law on the books that requires promoters to have a minimum of thirty scheduled rounds of boxing per fight card. But it's rarely enforced. And if all you have is three scheduled ten-rounders that end in quick knockouts, the fans are screwed. Encourage the legislature to change the requirement to a minimum of six scheduled fights. And then enforce it.

The television networks call most of the shots. Sit down with the top brass at HBO, Showtime, ESPN, Telefutura, and Telemundo. Encourage them to press for fights in New York.

Beware of Mike Tyson.

Do the things within the boxing community that you've done in the past. Visit the gyms. Attend meetings of Ring 8.

Sit down on a regular basis with guys like Lou DiBella, Al Gavin, Teddy Atlas, and Steve Farhood. Ask them for ideas on how to improve boxing in New York.

Go to the pre-fight press conferences. But keep in mind; absolutely no one wants to hear you talk. Marc Ratner (who's a pretty good role model) doesn't even sit on the dais at press conferences in Nevada. Neither should you.

The rules of the New York State Athletic Commission are hopelessly archaic regarding the roles of promoters, matchmakers, and managers. Revise them to reflect the present-day realities of boxing.

Pass a rule, regulation, statute -- whatever it takes -- to require binding arbitration before the commission to resolve disputes involving contracts with fighters.

Tighten the standards for being licensed as a manager, trainer, or promoter to ensure an acceptable level of competence. And don't be afraid to revoke a license where warranted.

The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act enacted by Congress is designed to be enforced by the states. Ask the Attorney General of the State of New York to do just that.

Talk with the media. Be open and honest with us. Ray Kelly didn't need permission from the Department of State to speak with reporters. You don't either.

If someone in the political heirarchy tries to pressure you into doing favors, suggest that you'll give the media a call. You'll be amazed at how quickly the favor-seeker backs off.

Good luck. You'll need it.

Thomas Hauser
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