Amateur boxing shut down in California

May 26, 2009 12:07:52 PM PDT
An ABC7 News I-Team investigation into the Bay Area boxing scene is getting results. The California Athletic Commission came down hard Tuesday on officials that are supposed to be overseeing the sport.

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The California Athletic Commission took drastic measures Monday in direct response to an ABC7 I-Team investigation. Amateur boxing is being shut down throughout California until the problems we uncovered can be dealt with.

There can be no amateur boxing events in California until the commission members get the answers they want, and they have taken a tough stand against San Francisco's exclusive private clubs.

The I-Team investigation had an impact at the state athletic commission meeting in Van Nuys last month, and now, they're taking tough action:

  • Issuing a cease and desist order against amateur boxing activity in California, effective today.
  • The state is considering removing the sports governing body, USA Boxing -- the commission would oversee the sport.
  • Its staff counsel writes "an initial investigation shows that the health and safety of amateur boxers may be at risk."

"There are young people in Northern California who have been taken advantage of and who are in harm's way," said Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco NAACP.

Rev. Brown has been one of the most vocal critics, since our investigation revealed amateur boxers as young as 10 performing in for the members of the City Club, dressed in gowns and tuxedos -- alcohol, ring girls, and no parents allowed.

The I-Team also documented widespread gambling on the annual amateur fights at the Olympic Club. The commission has now ruled that all shows at private clubs are illegal ? they are banned from this day forward.

"That is outstanding and we should applaud our state agencies for moving, as I said earlier, in this swift fashion," said Rev. Brown.

The I-Team received no comment from the City Club or the Olympic Club to Monday's news, but the new president of the local group who oversees the sport in Northern California says the private club ban is the right move.

"An amateur boxing show is supposed to be about the word 'boxing' and not about the word 'show,'" said Oscar Ortiz, president of the NorCal LBC, "and less about the, you know, a bunch of strangers drinking, and you know, look at the things you uncovered in your story."

The I-Team also documented how some promoters received thousands of dollars to set up the amateur fights at the private clubs, and we revealed how lax the oversight is by USA Boxing.

The I-Team spoke to Jim Millman, the CEO of USA Boxing at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado, late Monday afternoon about the state athletic commission's move.

"Our reaction is we're very much looking forward to cooperating with the state to move past the order," said Millman.

In its order of suspension, the athletic commission says:

  • "Millman has failed to respond" to its investigation.
  • "USA Boxing has willfully ignored the substance of the commission's subpoena" for records.
  • "USA Boxing was placed on probation by the U.S. Olympic Committee" because of a recent financial audit.

"We could understand why they were concerned," said Millman. "We've since sent them quite a bit of information and correspondence that they hadn't received, we sent that to them today, and I think that's got everything moving in the right direction."

If this doesn't get worked out soon, it could have an impact on the U.S. Olympic team. Fighters are already competing for a spot at the 2012 games. Now that events are canceled, it could make it that much harder for young fighters in California to advance.

You can find several of the documents from Monday's action in a new I-Team blog.

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