By Joe Dwyer
The idea of a National Boxing Commission has been kicking around for some time. Many knowledgeable boxing people were opposed to the idea, feeling that the ills of boxing should and could be remedied internally. Never happened!!
Many boxing writers, as well as television commentators, have had a field day, attacking the myriad of so called sanctioning organizations, much of the time with good reason. The World Boxing Council (WBC), the leading organization, recently filed for bankruptcy after being found guilty of illegally stripping its champion Graciano Rocchigiani of his title in favor of the more popular revenue producing Roy Jones Jr. Next up was the World Boxing Association (WBA) who became a laughing stock in 2002 after posting ratings which were, at best, laughable, but widely perceived in a poorer light.
Not to be outdone, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) was already under the intense scrutiny of a Federally-appointed Monitor after its former President Robert W. Lee Sr. and members of the IBF Executive Board were arrested for accepting bribes for rigging its monthly ratings. The Federal Monitor, appointed in January 2000, continues to oversea the IBF’s everyday operations four years later!
Senator John McCain (AZ) and Senator Harry Reid (NV), both of whom are supporters of boxing as well as fans of the sport, have sponsored legislation in favor of the establishment of a National Boxing Commission. It should be noted that not only are the sanctioning bodies in need of supervision but also many of the State commissions are as well. Fortunately, the more active Commissions (California, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas), as well as some Tribal Commissions, do an exemplary job while some other states are in need of closer supervision. State Commissions will continue to operate with autonomy and, when needed, will be able to seek assistance from the National Body.
Scandal and transgressions have for too long permeated this great sport and the vast majority of honest, hardworking, men and women who make their living from the sport, as well as dedicated boxing fans, deserve better. It seems that the thought of having a National Commission has caused panic amongst some of boxing’s movers and shakers. At the recent IBF convention held in San Juan, Puerto Rico, members of the major sanctioning organizations were in attendance to discuss just what impact such supervision would have on their operations. The statement given was “We just want to insure that it is something we can live with”. I don’t believe that will be a major concern to those structuring a Commission and it will be a case of “Shape up or ship out”. The days of the “backroom deals” must end!!!
A National Commission must also oversee the qualification, training, and certification of ring officials, mandating that compulsory training seminars be conducted with regularity and that records of performance of all officials be maintained. Questionable judges’ decisions are often the subject of criticism by the boxing public. Hopefully, a Federal Boxing Commission, comprised of knowledgeable, boxing, business, and medical people will insure that integrity is maintained in this sport that we all love.
Joe Dwyer spent six years in the amateurs, won the US Navy middleweight title and compiled a record of 57-2. He initially served in the New York State Athletic Commission as an Inspector and later Chief Inspector. After becoming a licensed boxing judge in 1995, he judged 30 title bouts. He was IBF Championship Chairman from July 2000 thru March 2003 and is presently a boxing judge.
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