N.A.A.G. Boxing Task Force Issues Recommendations

Attorney General Spitzer today released the recommendations of a national task force designed to clean up the sport of boxing. Spitzer is the Chair of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) Boxing Task Force.

Among the major recommendations is the use of independent polls to rank fighters to ensure legitimate match-ups, increased protection for boxers in the areas of contracts, pensions, and health and safety measures, and the use of alternate scoring systems for all bouts.

Spitzer presented the report to Senator John McCain, who has introduced federal legislation to reform the sport.

"The sport of boxing is in serious need of reform," Spitzer said. "One of its chief problems is the dubious alliance between promoters and sanctioning organizations. This relationship regularly produces events that undermine the credibility of the sport and jeopardize the health and safety of fighters."

Each of the 18 Attorneys General who have signed onto the report -- including those from New Jersey and Nevada -- will now urge their respective State Athletic Commissions to adopt the report’s recommendations. The Attorneys General often serve as the legal advisors to their respective commissions.

Spitzer, who last year testified before McCain at a boxing reform hearing, is urging congressional passage of the ‘Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act,’ which is sponsored by McCain.

Sen. McCain said: "I look forward to the recommendations of Attorney General Spitzer and his colleagues. The active and continued involvement of the NAAG Boxing Task Force is vital to achieving true reform of the boxing industry in America. With state officials hopefully being supported by the enactment of some sensible federal prohibitions on exploitative and monopolistic business practices, this is a promising time to make the sport more honorable and competitive."

Last year, Spitzer chaired national hearings into the sport’s problems. In studying the industry, members of the Task Force have met with and interviewed boxers, managers, judges, doctors, referees, trainers, promoters, sanctioning organizations, financial advisors, athletic commission members and television executives. Spitzer also appointed a Boxing Advisory Committee consisting of industry experts to work with the Task Force and provide input on the recommendations.

Among the 60 page report’s major recommendations are:

  • Establishing an independent ranking system, free of interference by sanctioning organizations or promoters;
  • Increased protection for boxers, including new guidelines for promoters and managers, standardized testing for judges, referees and ring physicians, stricter guidelines for weight loss, implementation of a medical risk-assessment classification for boxers, a central medical registry, mandatory temporary suspension until an MRI and/or EKG has been administered to at-risk fighters, federal legislation establishing a pension plan, and model bout and boxer/manager contracts which focus on full disclosure; and
  • Adoption of alternative scoring systems such as consensus scoring for all fights. Under the proposal, if there was not a unanimous agreement among the three judges in a round, the aberrant score would be thrown out. Had consensus scoring been in place for last year’s Lennox Lewis-Evander Holyfield heavyweight championship fight, Lewis would have won.

"Ultimately, we need uniform, national legislation to prevent corrupt promoters and sanctioning organizations from going to those states with the weakest regulations in order to stage fights," said Spitzer.

"Over the years, far too many fighters have wound up punch drunk and penniless, and far too many fans have been ripped off by the sport. Action on both the state and federal levels can return to boxing the integrity and credibility that it’s been lacking for far too long."