A boxing reform bill aimed at stopping the exploitation of fighters by promoters and ranking organizations awaits only the signature of United States President Bill Clinton to become law.
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act passed Monday by the US House of Representatives would affect all US promoters and any global ratings group taking huge amounts of a boxer's purse in return for sanctioning of US fights.
"While this is just a first step to curb some of the unethical and fraudulent conduct in boxing, today is a great day for boxers and boxing fans," said Senator John McCain, who first introduced the bill in 1997.
The bill, approved earlier by the US Senate, comes at a time when boxing credibility has been tainted by scandals and judging controversy.
Britain's Lennox Lewis settled for a draw in a unification showdown with Evander Holyfield 14 months ago in a fight most observers thought he won. A judge named by one of the ranking groups and paid by promoter Don King was alone in seeing Holyfield as a winner.
Lewis lost his World Boxing Association title in a Manhattan courtroom after King manipulated his fighters into position to delay Lewis' first defense. Two King-backed fighters, Holyfield and John Ruiz, will fight June 10 for that vacated crown.
The International Boxing Federation is on trial in Newark, New Jersey, for fraud in connection with taking payoffs from promoters to manipulate rankings in order to secure title bouts for their fighters.
"Having a federal law to protect boxers and enhance honest competition means there will be no jurisdiction in the United States where unethical promoters or ratings officials can easily engage in coercive practices," McCain said.
The bill would ban any improper payment by managers or promoters to a ratings organization to gain favor in order to secure a title bout.
Organizations would also be required to publicly explain the reasons for any changes in their rankings as well as disclose all charges imposed on boxers.
"The Ali Act is not a panacea for the sport, but it will enable professional boxers to resist coercive practices by promoters and curtail the most outrageous actions of the ratings organizations that have preyed on them," McCain said -- WASHINGTON (AFP)
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