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Frank Warren on British Board Reform, Jabs Sulaiman

By Frank Warren

Temperatures went through the roof at the British Boxing Board of Control’s Annual General Meeting for its license holders this week in Birmingham.

Some of the stewards tried to mislead the licence holders and I wanted to answer the misconceptions circulating that I am looking to bring down the BBBofC by working on a show with the Luxembourg Boxing Federation who have sanctioned David Haye and Dereck Chisora’s forthcoming fight at West Ham United.  Far from it I want a strong Board with direction, transparency and an understanding of the sport.

As a license holder, I am sick to death of is the way that the sport has been administered in this country for the past few years by a small clique of stewards. 

There are some good and honest stewards at the Board, but there are at least four or five so-called ‘senior’ stewards who hold a disproportionate influence and just don’t understand what is going on in boxing.  They are totally out of touch with the sport at grassroots level and the current TV landscape. 

Questions were asked and remain unanswered concerning some of this clique such as who was the steward to whom the Cardiff Holiday Inn were referring to when they wrote to the Board to complain about his disgraceful and abusive drunken behavior at former General Secretary Simon Block’s leaving party.

Was it the same steward who made an obscene gesture in a hotel lobby to Scottish promoter Tommy Gilmour MBE, a long-time Board license holder, causing his Solicitor to write to the Board about his unacceptable behaviour?

Another big question mark is the amount of legal fees being spent by the Board.  An intriguing issue is the reluctance of the Board to divulge the details of the case involving Jane Couch MBE that saw her have her licenses withdrawn and hastily returned to her. Why was it then settled so quickly after a senior steward was found to have lied whilst giving evidence at the first hearing.

It’s no secret that I’m unhappy with the current Chairman and President Charlie Giles over a number of issues.

At Dereck Chisora’s Board hearing they withdrew his license, but it was said at the hearing, and this was documented by his legal representative Barrister Jonathan Crystal, that Chisora could re-apply at any time, or he could seek a license elsewhere, which is what he chose to do by applying through Luxembourg which is perfectly legal. Dereck had submitted an Appeal but the Board postponed the date leaving him effectively unable to earn a living.  But at the hearing they denied this was the case even through Mr Crystal had signed a letter confirming this.

Despite a previous vote of no confidence being tabled by Brendan Ingle MBE at last year’s AGM, the Chairman has ignored overwhelming opinion amongst license holders that he should step down.  To force the issue, the required petition containing 150 signatures from unhappy license holders is on its way to the Board to call for an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss serious issues concerning certain senior stewards and asking for their resignation.

It is clear the Board needs to listen to license holders at the moment, it is a closed shop with antiquated rules and regulations - the license holders currently have no say in what goes on.  The stewards are self-appointed and act without consultation of the licence holders that they are there to represent.

I believe it needs a respected figurehead and a man with some vision. An ideal and ready-made replacement, once the Olympics are over, would be LOCOG Chairman Sebastian Coe.  Lord Coe was once a Steward at the Board, but his role as an MP meant he couldn’t devote all his time to boxing.  He would instantly bring credibility back to the Board and change the horrible situation the sport is in. The Sports Minister has already been asked to look at the situation, he has had complaints and is aware of the unrest in the sport.

With the big showdown between Haye and Chisora only three weeks’ away, both fighters are now fully licensed by the Luxembourg Boxing Federation with Haye formally collecting his license this week. At the AGM the Board’s General Secretary Robert Smith gave the green light for Board licensed boxers to fight on the undercard.

I am fully aware of my role in the Haye v Chisora fight on 14th July and I hope that this week’s events will now signal the start of serious reform at the Board. The facts are the Board has not handled this situation properly.

The Board’s AGM certainly raised more questions than it answered and one hopes that the Board will now realise that the days of their cozy incestuous club are over and boxing needs fresh new leadership, they must ask Lord Coe to step in.

***

So boxing is on the way out – well not according to the Forbes sporting rich list.

Nine-time world champion Floyd Mayweather knocked Tiger Woods, a 14-time major winner, off the number one stop for the first time in eleven years with a huge $85m fortune. 

Not bad for taking part in only two fights this year against Miguel Cotto and Victor Ortiz with under an hour spent in the ring. His fight with Cotto had 1.5m PPV buys compared to the audience of millions who watch golf.

Mayweather’s rival Manny Pacquiao was in second place with $62m, leaving stars David Beckham and Roger Federer trailing behind.

***

It’s great to see England go through to the Euro quarter-finals, but I didn’t hear cries that it was the end of football after the Ukraine were denied a goal which clearly crossed the line.  What a similar debacle at the Chelsea v Spurs FA Cup semi-final and Frank Lampards disallowed goal at the last World Cup, I can’t help but feel if such bad decisions had taken place in boxing the judges would be called corrupt and a major scandal would erupt.

Just like the doom and gloom merchants who said it was the end of boxing after the controversial judging in the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley in which Bradley was gifted the decision, England were also lucky but both sports will survive and prosper. Just like they did after Geoff Hurst in 1966 and Cooper V Bugner in ‘71.

A five-judge WBO review panel decided that Pacquiao did win his fight against Bradley, but the decision will not be reversed. Full credit to Pacman, he hasn’t moaned about the judges scoring and losing the world title or the latest decision, he just said that he wants to win the belt back in the ring.

***

BoxNation’s excellent ‘Beyond The Ropes’ four-part documentary following David Haye and Dereck Chisora starts this Wednesday.

It follows both fighters up close and personal as they prepare for their big grudge fight at West Ham United in the biggest domestic heavyweight showdown in recent years.

Watch in on Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546.

***

The WBC held a meeting in Mexico this week reviewing the disciplinary actions they imposed on Dereck Chisora.

Really it's just a 'Kangaroo Court' and I don't know why they held it now as they are aware that Chisora is in training for his fight with David Haye and couldn't attend because he had to apply for a visa.

One of their recommendations was for Chisora to go on an anger management course, maybe Sulaiman should have listened to his own advice after he went to attack journalist Steve Lillis at a press conference and had to be physically restrained.

For up to date boxing news and reviews visit www.frankwarren.com

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