Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vote McCain


McCain has been fighting for boxers


Boxers are told to protect themselves at all times inside the ring but they often have trouble doing the same outside the ropes.

The history of the sport is littered with examples of boxers being cheated out of their money by people who were supposed to be looking after them.

How often do we hear about fighters ending their days penniless or being forced to carry on for too long because their money has gone?

It's not just small-time pugilists either as many big names fall victim to the same system.

However, while watching the current US presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain, I was reminded of the hard work McCain has done to try and clean up the sport in his home country.

McCain boxed for the Navy as a young man but it is his work as the Republican senator for Arizona that endears him to many fight fans.

Twelve years ago he completed an initiative in the United States to try and free fighters from the grip of promoters and self-serving sanctioning bodies.

The Professional Boxing Safety Act was passed as law and subsequently amended in 2000 as the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act.

McCain follows the sport closely and his legislation recognised that many boxers were being exploited and had little chance of redressing the balance.

They were tied to unfair contracts that meant their handlers could siphon off cash with impunity.

One of the best things about boxing is that it gives a chance to the poor to earn money and to make something of themselves.

But the people who are supposed to be guiding them can use the system to their own advantage.

The senator also raised questions about how sanctioning bodies like the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO compiled their ratings and how they handled fighters.

McCain's hard work in passing these laws in the United States helped those who were previously at the mercy of people interested in lining their own pockets.

He recognised that the biggest problem facing the sport is the fact there is no central control which focuses primarily on the fighters.

His law obviously only applies in the USA but hopefully other elected officials will take up the baton around the world because the sport is in desperate need of independent regulation.

Some boxing commisions are strong and are able to keep wayward forces in check, but many more are not and they need help.

Many years ago, managers complained that they had to give money in brown paper bags to the right people to get their boxers ranked.

But is that very different to having to box continuously in dubious title fights to rise up the ratings while the sanctioning bodies take their cut?

There is also the issue of genuine belts being devalued.

Thailand currently has two world champions - WBC strawweight king Oledong Sithsamerchai and WBC women's light-flyweight holder Samson Sor Siriporn - yet the WBC has also allowed Nicaragua's Juan Palacios and Japan's Naomi Togashi to win "interim" belts in the same divisions despite Oledong and Samson being perfectly fit to defend.

That is an insult to both Thais.

The WBA crazily has super, normal and interim world titles in circulation at super-flyweight.

These are the kind of situations that McCain wanted to try and stamp out and clearly there is still a lot of work to do.

In an ideal world McCain's ideas could be implemented around the globe to help fighters everywhere, but that seems a long way from happening.

It has also taken a back seat in the US as McCain tries to become the next president in the face of serious competition from Democrat Obama.

There are far more serious issues at hand, but at least McCain has tried to help boxers because of his respect for the sport. I don't know if he will win the election but McCain's contribution to boxing should not be forgotten.

Julian Turner is the Bangkok Post's Deputy Sports Editor.

1 comment:

James said...

Sick! Fighting Propaganda!