By Chief Deputy Attorney General Keith E Kizer, Legal Counsel to the Nevada Athletic Commission
In May 2000, the National Association of Attorneys General Boxing Task Force, on which I had the pleasure to serve, issued its report on findings and recommendations. One of those recommendations is that States provide for the arbitration of contractual disputes between a boxer and a manager, and that such arbitration be conducted by the State’s athletic commission.
Nevada has provided arbitration services for almost 20 years. In fact, the Nevada model served as the basis for the National Boxing Task Force’s recommendation. Specifically, the Regulations of the Nevada Athletic Commission provide:
A contract between an unarmed combatant and a manager may provide for voluntary binding arbitration of disputes by the commission. The arbitration must be conducted by a representative of the commission appointed by the chairman. The arbitration must be conducted pursuant to the Uniform Arbitration Act, NRS 38.015 to 38.205, inclusive.
Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) 467.102(4). In order for the parties to utilize Commission arbitration, a boxer and his or her manager(s) must execute and notarize a form contract provided by the Nevada Athletic Commission. NAC 467.102(3).
The standard Nevada Athletic Commission Management Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the “Contract”) further explains the arbitration procedure:
Pursuant to NAC 467.102, controversies arising between the parties hereto shall be referred and submitted to arbitration in the following manner: Within two (2) weeks after the origin of such dispute or controversy, either or both of the parties hereto may notify the Executive Director of the Commission of the existence of such dispute and of his, her, or their desire and willingness to refer such dispute to arbitration, whereupon, in a duly authorized meeting of the Commission, the Chairman of the Commission shall appoint the a representative of the Commission (the “Arbitrator”) to conduct a hearing at such time and place as may, in the opinion of the Arbitrator, be convenient to all interested parties and witnesses. Notification of the time and place of such hearing shall be given to all interested persons by mail at their last known address. The parties hereto agree in the event of submission of any such controversy to arbitration that the decision of such arbitrator shall be final and binding upon the parties hereto and each of them agree to be bound thereby.
By using Commission arbitration, the parties save both time and money they would have to spend if they had to take their contractual disputes to court. Furthermore, the parties get the knowledge and expertise of an Athletic Commissioner to decide their case as opposed to a judge who may not have any experience with the sport of boxing.
Although there are many provisions in the Contract, most arbitrations revolve around whether the manager has performed under the Contract. Section 4 of the Contract requires the manager to use his or her "best efforts to secure remunerative boxing contests and exhibitions” for the boxer.
It is also important to know what the Contract does not require. The Contract does not require the manager to pay for the boxer's rent, car, or other personal expenses. Rather, the manager's obligation is to obtain paying fights for the boxer. If the manager has fulfilled his or her obligation to secure remunerative boxing contests and exhibitions for the boxer, then it is very difficult for the boxer to show a breach of contract by the manager.
I will end this brief article with suggestions for boxers, managers, and their legal representatives when they arbitrate a Contract before an athletic commission:
1. Proceed in a professional and civil manner.
2. Have only one person speak at a time.
3. Except when asking questions of a witness, all comments should be directed to the Arbitrator, including each witness’s answers.
4. The grievant (the party requesting the arbitration) has the burden of proving there has been a breach of the contract, or that the contract is void.
5. Each side’s questioning of the parties and their witnesses should be done at the appropriate time and in an appropriate manner.
Chief Deputy Attorney General Keith E. Kizer is chief legal counsel to the Nevada Athletic Commission, the Nevada Gaming Commission, the State Gaming Control Board and the Gaming Policy Committee. He has also served as counsel to the Local Government Employee-Management Relations Board, the State Apprenticeship Council and the Nevada Labor Commissioner. Before joining the Attorney General's office, Mr. Kizer represented management, both public and private, in employment and labor law matters. He received his B.A. degree, with high honors, from Valparaiso University and his J.D. degree, cum laude, from the University of Illinois College of Law.
Keith Kizer currently serves as chief legal counsel to the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC), and has acted as legal counsel to the NSAC since November 1997. However, all of the views, opinions, and/or recommendations contained herein are solely his own and do not necessary reflect those of the NSAC. 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 financial, legal, or 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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