By Frank Warren
Boxing crossed over to the mainstream this week on heavyweight BBC current affairs programme Newsnight with David Haye and Dereck.
Robert Smith, the General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, was against me in the opposite corner in a debate over the forthcoming fight at West Ham United on Saturday 14th July
Because of the limited time constraints on the slot given for the debate I was annoyed by some of the misleading comments that Smith made.
To start with he stated that Chisora was banned from boxing which is not the case as he had his license withdrawn. A ban is for a period of time, six months, twelve months, two years or whatever, they withdrew his license and they said he could re-apply anytime with the Board or go elsewhere and he did do, legally, through Luxembourg.
Had Chisora been banned he would have gone on the EBU published suspension list. When Mike Tyson hit the referee in Glasgow back in 2000 he was fined £100,000 but not banned from boxing. Had the Board banned Tyson he would not have been able to fight in the USA as the local Commission would have upheld the Board’s ban, as would the Danish Commission had respected the EBU’s banned list for this fight after that and that would have been the case with Luxembourg had Chisora been banned.
Even if the Board had of banned Chisora then their own disciplinary process is flawed as they are the prosecutor, judge and jury, a feudal system, we are in the 21st Century his hearing should have been heard by an independent tribunal.
Smith was also very selective quoting what the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson said about Germany. In fact the Minister has since publicly stated that he did not want to get involved in the situation. Maybe one of the reasons is because he was also mislead by the Board this year over the voting procedure on a Board matter.
On 5th March this year Smith wrote to the Minister regarding some proposals stating “only six members voted against the new structure”, going on to say that “Mr Willie Rennie’s MSP constituent (Scottish Promoter Tommy Gilmour MBE) was one of the small minority who voted against the proposals and is no doubt disappointed at being on the ‘losing side’ in this democratic process”.
Not only was this misleading it was a blatant lie. License holders are not allowed to vote on any matter – This is the cause of the license holders discontent of the way the Board is run. In fact the Chairman of the Scottish Area Council had to apologise to Tommy Gilmour MBE for the untruthful statement made to the Minister.
Smith also said on Newsnight it was a disastrous weekend for the sport in Germany back in February, stating that the Board’s own representative Chairman and President Charlie Giles, who was there to look after the interest of the British license holders. However, on the night Giles went AWOL as he did at Chisora’s hearing when he was asked to give evidence about what happened. He hid in the building and was then ushered out of the back door to avoid the press. He didn’t even submit a written report concerning the incident.
They talk about Chisora’s behaviour, but consider this what did the Board do about the disgraceful scenes at the Cardiff Holiday Inn at the former General Secretary’s leaving party? When one of their most senior stewards was abusive, threatening and drunken causing the hotel to write to the Board telling them they would not be welcome back. Is that fit and proper behaviour of someone to be passing judgement on anyone? And what did the Stewards do about it – nothing they turned a blind eye.
The Board have done everything to throw a spanner in the works for the show, from writing to Newham Council to warn them of crowd trouble at the event, with the Metropolitan Police later stating that “the Metropolitan Police Service” have no concerns with WHU stewards or boxing security inside the stadium and felt there was no risks inside. At least the Board were consistent in the level of their incompetence as their letter of objection was sent in 2 weeks after the deadline for objections.
Their letter confirms what their real issue is. The Board states “allowing the Luxembourg Federation to take control of a tournament in the United Kingdom seriously undermines the authority of the British Board”. If Chisora was fighting Haye anywhere else in the world you would not have heard a peep out of them.
It is a challenge to their monopoly and fees they get from boxing that is their concern. Despite its title the Board is not a governing department or body but is a limited company. Unfortunately over the years a small group of stewards have managed to take control of the company alienating a number of the license holders due to their lack of transparency and being out of touch with what is happening within the sport.
This week myself and a number of license holders issued legal proceedings against the Board for intimidating its own members for being involved in the Haye v Chisora promotion.
At the recent Board AGM myself and promoter Frank Maloney asked for Giles to resign. The Board needs to be overhauled and brought into the 21st century, removing their antiquated rules and regulations, hopefully under new leadership. Don’t get me wrong there are a number of Stewards whose hearts and souls are in boxing, but the group that is the power base are dragging the Board down. It is this group I am against not the Board as a whole.
They are out of touch with the modern sport. Since the arrival of TV subscription channel BoxNation, Sky Sports have cut back to 20 dates a year and have torn-up their contracts with promoters Ricky Hatton and Maloney. Their view is it is easier to deal with just one promoter.
It reminds me of the early days when I couldn’t get my foot in the door and the BBC were the only game in town.
In the last couple of weeks Forbes magazine have said that the two highest paid sportsmen on the planet are boxers, which demonstrates boxing’s huge public appeal. That is one of the reasons this sport needs strong, sensible governance.
There are three stewards on the Board who should take a leaf out of the book of the Barclays bank executives who at least had the decency to resign this week. But it seems they continue to act like bankers.
The Klitschkos said that Haye and Chisora should be banned from boxing, but they have agreed a deal with BoxNation, who are the promoter of the Upton Park showdown, to televise Wladimir’s fight against Tony Thompson tonight.
Wladimir puts his WBA Super/WBO/IBF Heavyweight titles on the line against previous challenger Thompson who he stopped in the eleventh round four years ago.
WBO World Lightweight Champion Ricky Burns has gone one up on rival Kevin Mitchell ahead of their Battle of Britain on September 22nd at the SECC in Glasgow.
Scottish hero Burns challenged Mitchell to eat a plate of haggis at the press conference in Glasgow this week with the Cockney scrapper going green at the thought and passing on the offer.
The pair are promising to serve up a treat, though, as they put their friendship aside in the mouthwatering clash.
Muhammad Ali will be in England before the start of the Olympics to attend a gala benefit in his honour in aid of the charity Sports for Peace.
Hollywood A-listers Angelina Jolie, who’s a patron, and Brad Pitt are expected to attend the event to raise money for the educational Muhammad Ali Center and for research into Parkinson’s disease that Ali suffers from.
For up to date boxing news and reviews visit www.frankwarren.com