Commission to inspect local boxing clubs

February 10, 2009 7:34:20 PM PST
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 state athletic commission ordered Bay Area boxing officials and the head of the sport's governing body, USA Boxing, to attend Tuesday's hearing and to answer questions raised by an I-Team investigation.

The commission played our reports from November. The first issue: San Francisco's exclusive private clubs and their fight nights. At City Club, our undercover cameras caught children, mostly from low-income families, fighting for club members dressed in tuxedos and gowns. The young fighters' parents were not allowed to attend.

At the Olympic Club, we documented how some members place illegal bets on the yearly amateur fights arranged by promoter Sonny Marson.

"As far as the drinking and gambling go, I have no rights to try to stop these people," said Marson.

"That's a case study of what we are trying to prevent and reduce and eliminate," said USA Boxing CEO Jim Millman.

"I appeal to you this afternoon to not take this matter lightly, but make sure that no stone is left unturned," testified Rev. Brown before the commission, president of the San Francisco NAACP.

The commission voted to send inspectors to attend Bay Area boxing events and suspended the Olympic Club's promoter license. They will look closer at Marson and the private club fights at the next meeting in April, and at the death of 49-year-old Keith Benjamin at a boxing boot camp in San Francisco last July.

Several members of the commission said that boxing is under fire and that they have to take action to clean up the sport.

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