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Hearing of House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection: United States Boxing Commission Act

Location: Washington, DC


March 3, 2005


Ms. Blackburn. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to each of you for taking your time to visit with us today and to have this discussion.

Ms. Torres, I think I want to begin my questioning with you, and I think it was interesting that Dr. Schwartz mentioned baseball, football, and NASCAR. I come from Tennessee. We know a lot about NASCAR in Tennessee, and we know that if a river races at Daytona and then goes over into Tennessee and races at Bristol--that NASCAR has some clear rules, some very clear rules, regarding the condition of the car and the equipment that is on the track, the health of the driver. And the Federal Government does not see a need to get involved because NASCAR, Major League Baseball, football do a pretty good job of taking care of this situation on their own.

Now, I am going to--I want to go back to what you were--we were talking about the need for this and need for the legislation and what drives the need for the legislation, and I find it incredibly curious that you are here on behalf of the 2 organizations. And why in the world could the sanctioning bodies not get together and agree on what is in the best interest of this sport and do their own non-Federal, national commission to instill and enforce medical standard and to create and maintain their own national data base of fighters and to address some of these contract issues.

What are the constraints here, and why is--why are you choosing to not come together? Why do the organizations choose to not come together and do this? Why has it not happened?

Ms. Torres. The other 2--the International Boxing Federation is headquartered in the United States. The World Boxing Association is headquartered in Venezuela. The World Boxing Commission is headquartered in Mexico City. They--the organizations that are outside of this country are in the process of understanding Federal legislation to begin with. They are studying the portions of the Muhammad Ali Act that they have to comply with, and they are complying with it.

I think that even if the organizations were to get together and to come up with standards, they wouldn't have any way to enforce them in the various States. They wouldn't have an enforcement mechanism for certain things.

They do have--the organization has rules for bouts; it has rules for certain medical testing; and it does enforce those.

Ms. Blackburn. And you think, even though States like my State that has a boxing and racing commission, that you could not enforce those? They would not be enforced?

Ms. Torres. I think there would a difficult time enforcing certain things. There are standards that the organizations have that are enforced and that--they have the ability to say, If you don't do X, Y, and Z, and you don't--for example, we have a second-day weigh-in, at this point, for champion fights to ensure that the boxer has not gained more than 10 percent over the contract weight, so that you don't have two fighters in the room with a, you know, 25-pound weight difference. And we have the ability to say to the boxer, If you do not go along with this, and you refuse to attend the second-day weigh-in, the fight will not be for our title. The fight will go on----

Ms. Blackburn. All right. Thank you. Thank you. Dr. Schwartz, she has just mentioned, you know, the U.S., Venezuela, Mexico City--I read, recently, Mike Tyson is training in Australia. And I think we all remember--I know, growing up, I remember the Joe Frasier/Muhammad Ali Thriller in Manila fight--so do you think that it would be possible to enforce some of these regulations on an international basis? Do you think that we would be able to see enforcement, or are we going to see--if we try to enforce, are we going to see more matches leaving the U.S. and going to other countries, and then we will just be viewing that over TV here?

Mr. Schwartz. Yes. The money is in the United States, so it is never going to be an issue that you are going to have that many of the--that many championship fights out of the country. The only way we could enforce the international aspect is through the sanctioning bodies. If the sanctioning body goes into an area--like for example in Thailand--and says that each boxer needs to have these medical tests, or else the fight doesn't go on, at the very least, the championship fights will. As far as the under-card, we don't have any control in that. What I am trying to do is, obviously, increase the number of people in my organization to include international members, but it is hard enough to do it in this country for me, than, you know, to go across the world and try to enforce these regulations at this time.

Ms. Blackburn. Do other countries have national boxing commissions?

Mr. Schwartz. Most do. England, United Kingdom, obviously has a very good boxing commission; but there are boxing commissions all around the world, and the sanctioning bodies could talk better about that, because they deal with them on a more regular basis.

Ms. Blackburn. Okay. I thank you.

Mr. Stevens, if a boxing commission was created, do you foresee an eventual progression where States that currently have active commissions--like in Tennessee where we have an active commission--do you see that they would disband those commissions? Or would that be your expectation that they would slowly start to place the sole responsibility for sanctioning boxing with the Federal Commission?

Mr. Stevens. I think that the State commissions should retain their autonomy. The problem that we have is that we don't have any enforce mechanism, so they created--the Federal Government did when they created the Boxing Professional Safety Act and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act--they created minimum standards, and they sanctioned--or the sanctified the Association of Boxing Commissions to set up a lot of the standards we are now talking about. But the ABC has no enforcement capability, so the States don't feel completed to follow their guidelines. Many do; some don't. I think a national commission would want to use the States as a fabulous resource and let the States self-regulate and only jump in when they needed to. In other words, make the States comply with the minimum standards, whether it is about medical or about rules and regulation or whether it is about the business of boxing, and use those States to assist you. Without the States, you--I mean the job, the task, would be enormous. It would require hundreds of people, a tremendous amount of man-hours. We need the States. I think that if you consider a bill, the States should retain their autonomy. They should be used as a tool to assist the national commission and that, at least, the national commission would have enforcement power. That is what we are missing.

Ms. Blackburn. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I yield back.


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