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21 NOVEMBER 2014

 

Boxing ethics


By Flip Homansky

As a 19th century poet said... “Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” We just haven’t quite found where to draw the line in our sport.

My definition of ethics is knowing the difference between right and wrong - and then trying to do the right thing.

Our sport seems to flaunt winning above everything else. Winning not only in the ring, but in the control of belts, fighters, gate receipts, ratings, even network dates. Fighters become mere pawns in this dance of dominance.

We are all equally guilty of losing sight of why we are involved in the sport. When I first started as a ring doctor, I made a number of mistakes. I became too friendly with certain promoters. This created situations in which I did what was best for them, rather than thinking about the fighter first. I wanted to “save” shows, and at times was more an advocate for the promoter and commission than for the participants.

While I never billed fighters for taking care of them, I did function as their personal physician. This is a situation that is rife with conflicts. How can one serve as a fighter’s doctor and also function as the Ring Physician. In retrospect, it doesn’t make logical sense. I would know certain things about my patients that I wouldn’t normally know as the ring doc.

The doctor-patient relationship is established and becomes paramount. I am now a patient advocate rather than an objective ring doc. I may be privy to certain information that I can’t share with my commission. I believe there must be a distinction between the doctor who takes care of people who fight, and the Ring Physician. I also believe that there are liability issues if the line is crossed between private patients and fighters.

The only compensation a Ring Physician receives should come from the local commission, and not from a fighter, his manager or promoter. If you see a fighter in your office in any capacity other than as a representative of the local commission, then you should not work ringside.

The relationship between the world sanctioning bodies and promoters is complex. The rating of fighters is a key to both of their existences. Bias should never enter into the rankings...but boy does it seem to on a consistent basis. When your fighter is made the mandatory challenger, he immediately becomes more valuable. A lot more valuable.

The ratings committee should be a totally independent arm of the sanctioning body and its discussions should be open to public review. There must be logical, objective reasons for its decisions. How often have we seen changes in the top challengers that seem to be based more on affiliations with certain promoters than on what they have done in the ring.

This is unacceptable and will bring outside control to our sport. I have no problem with a promoter sponsoring a social function at a convention, or a large ad in the program - but they should neither expect nor get any preferential treatment from that organization. If they have a protest about a contest with one of their fighters, or if they are at a convention specifically to lobby for one of their fighter’s ratings, then they should not financially contribute to that sanctioning body. The finances of the sanctioning body should be open to its members. This should include all expenses and all contributions. I cannot imagine why this information isn’t available.

Free enterprise allows promoters to have contact with amateurs. This should never impact the young fighter’s training, and all contact should be in the open. The world class fighters should know their options and be able to make intelligent decisions when they do elect to turn pro. What I have a problem with is the cozy relationship between the official amateur organizations and certain promoters. This sours the whole process and is patently unfair.

Networks that televise fights are in an ethical dilemma. They may have boxers under contract or use “house” fighters in their shows. They may have contracts with certain promoters who obviously have their boxer’s best interest in mind. Match-ups seem to at times benefit the house fighter. The announcers are well aware of these relationships, and the call of the fight should never be influenced by them. The public frequently takes what the announcers say as gospel. Don’t abuse this trust. The line should never blur between the network, the promoter, and the advisor (whatever that is).

No one that should be neutral at an event should ever bet on that event. This includes all officials, and even the telecast team. When you have “action” on a fight, this will cloud how you officiate, judge or analyze. Some commentators have placed bets on fights that they were doing in the past and this is just wrong. When you want one boxer to win, this will cloud how you see everything in that fight. This is just human nature.

Ethics can be simply thought of as knowing the difference between right and wrong, and attempting to do the right thing. Ultimately, doing the right thing will benefit our sport and its contestants. Let me know of other ethical lapses that trouble you.

Flip Homansky MD.

______________________________________

Dr. Flip Homansky is the current Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC). For over twenty years, he served as Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board and Chief Ringside Physician for the NSAC.

Dr. Flip Homansky practices in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he had been a licensed ringside physician and Chairman of the Medical Advisory Board for the Nevada State Athletic Commission for over twenty years. His medical specialty is in the field of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Homansky was appointed by Nevada’s Governor, Kenny C. Guinn, in 2000, to serve as a Commissioner of the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Although he is currently Vice-Chairman of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessary reflect those of Nevada’s Commission. All readers are strongly cautioned that the information contained herein is not intended to, and never should, substitute for the necessity of seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional whenever a boxer or his/her representatives have specific questions regarding the best course of action that a boxer should take. Furthermore, since it is possible that general information herein may pertain only to a law, regulation, rule or acceptable standard of practice for a particular jurisdiction, a boxer or his/her representatives must always inquire with the appropriate licensing jurisdiction to determine the applicable laws, regulations, rules, and acceptable standards of practice for each jurisdiction.

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