Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Say "No" to the Alphabet Soup Organizations in Boxing

by Paul Magno

I don't know of any real fight fans who actually like boxing's four major sanctioning bodies (WBO, WBC, WBA, IBF). As a matter of fact, hardcore fans are unanimous in their disgust for these "Alphabet Soup" Organizations.

The laundry list of offenses is too long to detail in one short article, but with only their own self-interest in mind, these groups have committed just about every offense possible against the sport and it's athletes.

For this reason, The Boxing Tribune is spearheading the campaign to discredit and eventually eliminate these blights on the sport. We urge all fans and websites to join in and support the cause for the betterment of the sport. A large, vocal movement may give fighters and managers the courage and incentive to ditch these now meaningless belts and bring the sport back to where it needs to be.

Join the movement:

It's easy to say "Ditch the Sanctioning Bodies," but what does that really mean and how can the sport exist without the current power structure? Here's a FAQ-style rundown of some of the major sticking points of this movement:

Why get rid of the sanctioning bodies?

To be kind, they're very unnecessary. To be real, they are a blight on the sport and merely exist to line their pockets with the hard-earned money fighters truly deserve. Aside from the bribes and kickbacks that most acknowledge as real parts of the ranking procedure, there's the issue of sanctioning fees. About 3 percent of fighter's purses in all championship fights and official eliminators are handed over to the sanctioning body in charge of the fight...we're talking 5 and 6 figure sanctioning fees just for the right to hold the belt that they earned on their own. But if this isn't bad enough...all 4 major organizations regularly invent new belts and new titles in order to extract more money from more fighters...So, with compromised rankings and a landscape littered with World, Interim, Regular, Super, Diamond, International and Silver champions, the continued existence of these groups is not only bad for the fighters who want a fair, even playing field but, also, for the casual fans who want to follow the sport but get no clear idea of who's who because of all the diluted titles and cartoonish corruption.

Fighters use the sanctioning bodies and the lesser belts as a ladder to climb in their development...What will the young fighters do to get that push and be seen by a large group of fans?

Well, they'd do what they've historically done: Win, make a name for themselves and fight their way to the top. Why should the sanctioning bodies be involved in promoting fighters to new heights? That's what promoters are for. The sanctioning bodies should be for protecting the fighters and making sure that all are fighting on an even playing field.

What about the history and title lineages that accompany these sanctioning bodies?

Well, the sanctioning bodies, as we know them, have only been around since 1962 when some members of the NBA (National Boxing Association) executed a hostile take over of the organization and moved it out of US jurisdiction, renaming it the WBA. Eliminating the modern organizations will do nothing to lessen the importance of the great fighters of the past. And, as far as title lineages go, the arbitrary rules of the sanctioning bodies have already compromised a good share of title lineages.

Ok, They're corrupt, but what would boxing do without at least some sort of sanctioning body?

I'm not endorsing chaos in the sport. Boxing does, indeed, need a sanctioning body, but it needs an organization that will do the right thing and put the sport ahead of the wallets of the boss men. The sport can operate on the same level as other sports do, but a house cleaning is desperately needed in order to start the cleansing process. In the absence of the Alphabet Soup Crew and while a new sanctioning body is being formed, local and state commissions could handle the record keeping and other logistical duties while, short term, the media could handle the rankings. I'll admit, this is not an ideal situation, but the only way to reform is to remove the offending parties. If they still exist and operate as usual, their stranglehold on the sport would be too strong to enact any reform.

Why not work from within and try to reform the existing sanctioning bodies?

48 years of repeat offending have shown us that they simply will not clean up their act...and there's nothing we can really do to force them. Three of the Four sanctioning bodies are based outside US jurisdiction and the one US-based group, the IBF, has already been busted, disassembled and re-formed with little real change.

How can we even do this?

Getting rid of the sanctioning bodies would be as easy as cutting off the cash supply. Six to Nine months of no sanctioning fees or kick-backs would significantly cripple them. A lot depends on whether fighters and managers would join in the movement or if they'd rather continue on with the corrupt current scene that allows them a chance to buy their way to the top. I guess this movement would also say a lot about the integrity of many active participants in the sport and whether they'd choose to play on a level playing field if given a choice.

How can we ensure that the next sanctioning body wouldn't fall into the same corrupt pattern as the ones we have now?

Remove the profit factor and the veil of secrecy; That would just about do it. Make the rankings based upon a fair, objective formula that takes activity and level of opposition within a given weight class into consideration. Publish the formula, make it simple enough to verify and keep it as an untouchable method of ranking fighters. When it comes to money issues, make all financial dealings 100% transparent. Yes, sanctioning fees do need to be charged, but the current rate is too high. A scaled-down, small government-style sanctioning body would require less of an operating budget than the massive bureaucracies that currently exist only to sustain themselves. The new sanctioning body's responsibilities would be to supervise the officials, ensure for the safety of the fighters and oversee officially sanctioned bouts. All of this, of course, would take place in complete transparency with all meetings transcribed, observed and posted in a public forum and all revenue paths clearly earmarked.

Believe me, I have no delusions of grandeur regarding this issue. Maybe this is the greatest of pipe dreams, but I owe a lot to this sport and have nothing but the greatest respect for those warriors who risk their lives each and every time they step into the ring. To have a bunch of middle-aged confidence men divvying up these warriors' hard-earned money is just obscene. And to have the sport riddled with bogus titles and bought rankings that ruin all credibility is sickening. I just couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least make my voice heard...this is your chance to make your voices heard as well...And, maybe, together we can make a loud enough noise.

Join the movement...Say "No" to the Alphabet Soup Organizations in Boxing:


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