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Articles of 2003




The 79th Round

(NOTE: The “Q & A” passages in these reports, as well as the direct quotes, are a product of a deposition taken from Jack Kerns, dated December 10, 2002)

James Doolin, the trainer for former heavyweight champion Greg Page, came to officials of the Kentucky Athletic Commission with a complaint on the night of his fighter's state title bout againt Dale Crowe.

The thrust of the complaint was Doolin's contention that the padding underneath the ring canvas was not thick enough. Kentucky rules specify that the padding must be a minimum of one inch thick, otherwise it is not fight for use in a professional fight card.

Doolin also complained about oxygen, which didn't seem to be present at the location of the fight – Peel's Palace. He made his thoughts known to one of the commissioners, Tim Gonterman.

According to Gonterman's statement, which was submitted pursuant to the KAC's “investigation” into the matter, “I met with Mr. Doolin for about eight minutes and he stated concerns he had about the ring and safety equipment at ringside and also some other personal feelings toward the commission.”

Yeah, “peronal feelings”; he's not alone there.

Let's go to Doug Morris, questioning Jack Kerns about this:

“Q: Could you not require some representative of the commission to be present before the canvas is stretched out over the padding in order to make sure that the padding was sufficient?

A: It would be kind of hard to do, because you never know when they're going to set up a ring. They might set it up the night before, they might set it up the next day.

Q: Well, I mean, as chairman of the Kentucky Athletic Commission, do you not have the power to say to them, notify us before you do that?

A: Well, yeah, I could have said notify us, but I see no reason to. If someone brought something to my attention, I'm going to check it out, so I mean, it wouldn't be no different than checking one thing ot checking another one. When they set the ring up, we check it all.

Q: But you can't check the thickness of the padding after the canvas –

A: Sir, I went around and I felt all around that there, and I'll die and go to heaven believing that there was enough padding on that ring.

Q: As we sit here today, you cannot tell us how thick the pad was that was underneath the canvas in that ring, correct?

A: I can tell you that in my heart there was at least an inch padding there.

Q: Did you ever measure it?

A: No, sir.”

Brian Walsh didn't exactly measure it either. But as he explained to me in connection with my original Kentucky report, “Horse Manure Isn't the Only Thing That Stinks in Kentucky”, Greg Page's friend and representative stuck around after the fight, reached under the canvas, and cut out a piece of the ring padding, obviously foreseeing a possible point of contention. And just to show he had much more presence of mind than Jack Kerns, Walsh went to the trouble of having a local sheriff's deputy sign off on an envelope Walsh put that padding in and sealed. Walsh says the padding had hardly any thickness to it at all.

“Q: All right. Did you check – before the Greg Page fight, did you check for the presence of any safety equipment?

A: Like what, sir?

Q: Well, how about oxygen?

A: If it was ever brought to my attention, I would. Anything brought to my attention, I would check. I never – the oxygen was up to the promoter. That's his duty.

Q: But regardless of whether the promoter is required to provide it, it's up to the commission to see to it that those regulations are complied with; correct, sir?

A: Sir, when this was brough to my attention, I called the three commissioners together, and I told them that it was brought up by Mr. Doolin to Tim Gonterman that there was no oxygen. It was our judgment, after talking it over, you had a hospital within two blocks, you had EMT's within two blocks, you had the police department, not only that there, but Greg Page and Mr. Doolin said they didn't want – you know, Mr. Gonterman told him that they could stop the fight right then and there. They elected to go on with it. We talked about the safety of the fighter, and it was our judgment call. Now, we have to make judgment calls. If it was some other city, and it was different, we might have stopped the fight. But in this case, with everything so close, it was our judgment call that we said let's go on with it. With Greg Page and Doolin saying go on with it, our commission decided – it was our judgment call on that, and we went on with it.

Q: So it was pointed out to you before the Greg Page fight that there was no oxygen?

A: Yes, sir – not to me. It was pointed out to Tim Gonterman.

Q: And Tim Gonterman reported that to you?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: When did that occur? What time of day?

A: It was before the fight, but I don't know exactly what time it was.

Q: Was it before other fights as well?

A: Oh yeah, it was before any fight started.

Q: Did you discuss this with the managers of boxers of any of the other fights?

A: No, sir.

Q: So you did not discuss with the fighters in the previous rounds about whether they wanted to go forward without any oxygen?

A: No sir. I talked it over with my commission.

Q: So before any of the fights started, you, as the chairman, and Mr. Emmitt Igo, and Tim Gonterman, and Fred Burch were all aware of the fact that there was no oxygen present at the time of –

A: I don't know if Igo – excuse me. I don't know whether Igo – he wasn't in on the meeting. He was over at the motel. Whether he came back over there, I don't know.

Q: So before any of the fights started, you and Fred Burch and Tim Gonterman were all aware that there was no oxygen present?

A: Yeah, I'm sure everybody there knew. I'm sure there wasn't a fighter in that house that didn't know it.

Q: Well, regardless of what you're sure of, did you ever discuss with any of the other fighters, other than Greg Page, whether or not there was any oxygen present?

A: No, sir.”

That's another thing that's so bad. Greg Page was not the only boxer on the card that night. The Page-Crowe fight, though the main event, was not the evening's only bout. There were at least eight competitors scheduled to be on the card – didn't they have a right to know that there wouldn't be oxygen, as per state and federal law? Is it THEIR obligation to check for the presence of oxygen and ensure that it is present? Or were they supposed to be satisfied, after the fact, that Jack Kerns was making potential life-and-death decisions for them?

And having made that critical decision, along with his fellow commissioners, in a unilateral fashion, what kind of due diligence (there's that phrase again) did Kerns perform in order to mitigate any potentially life-threatening situation (not that it makes any legal difference)?

“Q: Did you make any determinations – did you call the EMT's to find out how long it would take them to get to the Peel's Palace in the event they were needed?

A: No, sir.

Q: Did you – go ahead.

A: But I knew from other experiences, because I had a security company, that they were there within a couple of minutes.

Q: Do you know how long it took the EMT's to arrive once the call was made?

A: No sir, I don't.

Q: It certainly was more than two or three minutes, wasn't it, sir?

A: I don;t know, sir.

Q: Have you ever looked at the dispatch records of the EMT's to be there from the time they were called until the time they arrived?

A: No sir.

Q: Do you know how long a person can go without oxygen before they sustain permanent brain injury?

A: Sir, I'm not a doctor –

MR. GUILFOYLE (Kerns' attorney): Objection.

Q: I know you're not a doctor, sir. Did you consult with any doctor on the night of March 9th and say, how long does it take a person to sustain a brain injury if they don't have oxygen?

A: No sir. I never thought to ask a question like that.

Q: Yes sir. So you;re making a judgment, you;re telling me, on whether or not to have oxygen there, and you're telling me you don't have any opinion as to how long someone can go without oxygen, correct?

A: We made a judgment call that we would go on because we felt that they were so close.

Q: Yes, sir. And what I want to know is – you made that judgment call without knowing how long a human being could go without oxygen, correct?

A: Our commission decided that, because yes – that was our judgment call to do that, yes.”

Morris was curious as to where Kerns felt he had the authority to let the fight proceed on the basis of such a judgment call. He wanted Kerns to point that out in the regulations. Guilfoyle asked Morris, “If you want to direct him to the regulations…”, to which Morris said:

“Q: No, sir, I want you to direct ME. I want you to take the regulations of the Kentucky Athletic Commission, and I want you to tell me where in there it says that you can exercise your judgment in such a way as to allow this fight to proceed without oxygen.

A: I can't tell you that, sir. I can tell you that it says in our regulations that we have the right to make a judgment call, and our judgment was that the hospital – as I said before, the hospital was just two and a half blocks away, everything was that close, that we felt that – and also Mr. Doolin and also Mr. Page –

Q: Mr. Doolin is not the chairman of the Kentucky Athletic Commission, is he, sir?

A: No.

Q: Mr.–

A: He could have stopped the fight anytime.

Q: Please answer my question.

A: All right.

Q: Mr. Page is not the chairman of the Kentucky Athletic Commission, is he sir?

A: No, sir.

Q: You are the chairman of the Kentucky Athletic Commission; isn;t that right, sir?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And you have the ultimate authority to determine whether the fight will go forward or not; correct, sir?

A: Yes.”

Jack Kerns, who was appointed to a position of trust by the governor of the state of Kentucky, has never – EVER – had a full understanding of the importance of his responsibilities and his role of leadership. That lack of understanding can perhaps be most vividly illustrated both above and in this exchange:

“Q: Did it ever occur to you to say to the promoter, get on the line to the EMT's and see if they can send an ambulance out here?

A: Sir, the promoters had – they knew what they're supposed to do.

Q: My question is about you, sir. I want to know about you. Did you ever say to anyone, whether it be the promoter or anyone else, contact the EMT's and see if they can provide oxygen or an ambulance?

A: No, sir. I never told the promoter anything he should do. There was very little I had to do with that promoter. He was the one putting the show on.

Q: Well, if you had shown up and there hadn't been a clean bucket there, and clean water, towels, would that be something you would be responsible for seeing if it was complied with?

A: The referee would tell me, and the referee would get it done.

Q: So it would be necessary to have a bucket and a stool or a chair before the fight would go forward, correct?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: And if it wasn't there, then somebody would have to make some arrangements to get it there, correct?

A: The referee would tell the promoter and get the promoter to do this.

Q: Are you familiar with – you told me that there was no ambulance present for the fight?

A: Right.

Q: And again, referring to the federal Professional Boxing Safety Act, section 6304, which requires that an ambulance or medical personnel with appropriate resuscitation equipment be continuously present on site, were you aware of that regulation in March of 2001?

MR. GUILFOYLE: Objection to the extent you're asking whether that was even applicable. Go ahead, Jack.

A: No sir, I wasn't.”

You see what I mean? People like Kerns – and believe me, there are more like him in other states – don't seem to grasp the fact that as a REGULATOR, it is not only preferable, but MANDATORY – that they be the last line of defense when rules have either been ignored or transgressed.

But the posture of Kerns, just as its was with Nancy Black in testimony before him, is to lay off all the blame on the promoter. What there is no comprehension of is that they have to OVERSEE the activities of the promoter – that is their job.

Could you imagine Marc Ratner presiding over a fight at the MGM Grand or Caesars Palace, where an ambulance hasn't been called or hasn't shown up yet, and letting the fights go forward anyway, with the attitude that “It's okay. If anything tragic happens, I'll just blame the promoter”?

It seems something too bizarre to even consider.

That's what's so absurd about this whole thing. It is not Terry O'Brien's job to be the guardian of the public interest. In Kentucky, that's the responsibility of Jack Kerns and Nancy Black. But these pathetic “human beings” don't have any respect whatsoever for that. It's a slap in the face to the people of Kentucky and an insult to anyone within earshot of their story.

Oh – should it be big surprise that Kerns had no idea about INSURANCE either?

“Q: Did you know that federal law – that the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996 requires that health insurance be provided for each boxer?

MR. GUILFOYLE: I'm going to object. Go ahead and answer it, if you can.

A: No, that's up to – an attorney would have to answer that there. It would be in the insurance – that would have to be provided by the promoter.

Q: But my question was: Were you familiar with the requirement that insurance be provided?

A: No, sir.”

Kerns' testimony is that, when it appeared Greg Page was in dire straits, it was HE who got on his cell phone and called 911 at Dr. Mediodia's request:

“Q: And it's your testimony that you called EMS after Dr. Mediodia came back from his examination of Greg Page?

A: He didn't come back, sir. He was up in the ring, and I was standing there, and I asked – he said – I asked him how he was, and he said he thought he was just tired, exhausted. And so I said, do you want me to call 911? And he said yes, and I got my cell phone out and called 911.”

It should be noted that there have been legitimate questions raised as to whether it really was Kerns who placed the emergency phone call. Curiously, Kerns' observation of Mediodia's activities once Page went down seem to conflict with Mediodia's own version of events:

“Q: How many times did you see Dr. Mediodia attend to Greg Page? Once or more than once?

A: Attend to him? He was right up there. He stayed right up there with him.

Q: Is it your testimony he stayed up in the ring until EMS arrived?

A: Oh, yes.”

As we said, Mediodia's testimony is a little different. He says he actually LEFT the ring after initially examining Page, then went back up in the ring. As for what he did in between, this is what he testified to:

“Q – And did you stay with Jack Kerns during that time?

A – Yes. I was with him all that time.

Q – And what did you and Jack Kerns do during that time?

A – Well, we were still watching the proceedings inside the ring.

Q – But you were outside the ring?

A – There was no reason for us to move away from that area.

Q – But you were outside the ring over where you had been sitting with Jack Kerns?

A – Right. yes. Just a few feet away.

Q – All right. And during that ten minutes, did you do anything to assist Greg Page in any way?

A – No. There was no necessity for treatment or any procedure to be done. His ABC's, as I said, were just perfect.”

What is Mediodia's recollection of whether Kerns himself called for the emergency unit?

“I assmued it was Jack Kerns.”

That's unusual, for someone who was by his side the entire time. Why wouldn't he know for sure?

Brian Walsh has told me, “And this doctor, who had already seen Greg, was standing there, with his hands in his pockets, in the center of the ring. He wasn't anywhere NEAR Greg. He looked right into my my face, and told me, 'He's faking'. I was just so shocked he would say something like that. It was clear Greg was hurt and needed help.”

Kelly Mays, a Kentucky fight manager, told me that Mediodia didn;t go right into the ring at all when Page went down, but in fact was apparently headed home:

“The doctor was actually walking through the lobby heading toward the parking lot,” said Mays, who was working in Page's corner that night. “And he did this 30-40 seconds before the fight ended. He took for granted that the fight was over.”

Even though Kerns had previously testified that he would never use Mediodia again for a fight, he didn't seem to feel that the unlicensed doctor had done anything irregular or unusual in the process of his immediate treatment of Page before the ambulance finally arrived:

“Q: What did you think about the quality of action by Dr. Mediodia from what you could see?

A: I didn't see anything that he done wrong. Like I say, I couldn't really tell what he did other than bust that capsule (an ammonia capsule), and I asked him about calling 911. You know, first, he told me that the man was either wore out or exhausted, and then I called 911. That's the only – when something like that happens, there's so many people that can get in front of you that I really didn't get a chance to talk to the doctor.”

Certainly at least one other commissioner saw things a little differently. We'll have his story, and what happened to him as a result, in the next chapter.

Copyright 2002 Total Action Inc.

Articles of 2003

The War at 154



They're calling it the “War at 154,” though no one will confuse it with plucking evil dictators out of dirty rat holes or patrolling the rubble and dark streets of a dying city.

Still, they're hoping this fight somehow lives up to its top billing, praying a slugfest breaks out instead of 12 rounds of elevator music.

IBF champ Winky Wright (46-3, 25 K0s), versus WBA and WBC champ Shane Mosley (39-2, 35 K0s) for the undisputed junior-middleweight (or, depending on your mood, super-welterweight) championship of the world.


It has a nice, long-overdue ring to it, a kind of “it's about damn time,” feel to it.

If you want to give credit to the right people for getting this fight done, you can start with Cory Spinks, an unlikely hero now known as the undisputed welterweight champ of the world.

If Spinks hadn't beaten Ricardo Mayorga on Dec. 13, Wright could have spent January and February snagging some sun on a St. Petersburg beach. That's because Mayorga was expected to walk through Spinks on his way to a lucrative fight with Mosley in March.

But somehow, Spinks found a way to beat Mayorga and suddenly, Mosley no longer had a March opponent and everything appeared to be ruined. Plans were shattered, promises broken, money was lost. The wife cried, the dog howled and the kids were sent to bed early.

How can this happen?

Then an idea occurred to someone important.

Hey, what about Ronald “Winky” Wright? I don't think he's got any big plans for March.

Winky, who was free in March, owes Cory a friendly slap on the back.

So what does the March 13 fight between Mosley and Wright (on HBO) at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas mean?

Just about everything if you weigh 154 and hold a world title belt.

It means Winky finally gets the big-money, big-name fight that could define his career, the fight he's been chasing since his controversial majority-decision loss to Fernando Vargas in 1999.

It means Gary Shaw, Mosley's promoter, also deserves a little pat on the back for somehow putting this fight together.

It means for the first time in 29 years, you'll only have to know one name when the bar talk turns to who the best junior-middleweight fighter in the world is.

It means Mosley better arrive at the gym early and leave late. He's not fighting the awkward banger he'd be facing in Mayorga. While Mayorga knows how to slug, Wright knows how to box.

It means Wright doesn't have to pack his passport the day he leaves for the fight. He won't have to hire an interpreter, change his currency, drive on the left side or learn how to eat and pronounce strange food. Of Wright's 49 fights, 20 have required extra paperwork and extra-long plane rides. He's fought in eight different countries and on four different continents.

No wonder no one over here knows who Winky Wright is.

Finally, this fight means that with the right money and for the right reasons, two guys in the same weight class holding different world titles, can come to an understanding that meeting inside the ring to decide who is the real champion makes all the sense in the world.

The sad thing is, it took an upset by another fighter in a different weight class – Spinks – to finally make it happen.

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Articles of 2003




The 99th Round

Earlier this month, in response to what he, and others, considered an excessive amount of “pork” in the latest energy bill, John McCain told his Senate colleagues, “The outbreak of Washington trichinosis will be so severe, we will be forced to have a field office for the Centers for Disease Control right next to the Capitol.”

In a recent Associated Press wire story, McCain was described as “an avid critic of spending for lawmakers' pet projects.”

One of the great curiosities of McCain's campaign to slip through Congress his own pet project, the expensive ($36 million over five years), ineffectual, and perhaps unconstitutional Professional Boxing Amendments Act (to federalize control of boxing) has been his outright refusal to include television entities – by far the most powerful and influential forces in the sport – among those which would fall under regulatory jurisdiction.

Critics have cried foul – and they've had a point. If networks are going to control the balance of power, define the major 'players', put fighters under contract, and in some cases actually assume the 'de facto' role of a promoter, they are receiving unequal and unfair protection vis-a-vis the promoters in boxing who are actually required to be licensed and regulated.

However, McCain has been resolute about maintaining this protection, avoiding all opportunities to adjust or amend the bill to accommodate the reality of the industry, not to mention Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, who had previously introduced legislation that would provide some oversight of networks when they play a promotional role. McCain has been nothing short of combative on occasion, “calling out” Reid in press conferences, and in correspondence he has leaked to the public.

Why is McCain so stubborn? Part of the reason lies in a mode of political operation that has become imbedded in the man itself, despite countless “spins” to the contrary.

What is common knowledge inside the Beltway, but not necessarily among average boxing fans, is that while McCain has carefully crafted an image as a reformer railing against special interests, he has developed a talent that is much more acute, as one of the very best in the business at feeding from the corporate trough.

He has been slick enough to parlay his coziness with corporate interests into political capital, resulting in lots of money coming his way for campaigns. And his public relations apparatus, which has included many highly-cooperative writers, both in and out of sports, has enabled him to avoid having to discuss the considerable influence special interest groups have had on the drafting and development of McCain's boxing bill – the same types of groups he would purport to be thwarting in the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act (otherwise known as McCain-Feingold), which, at the end of the day, amounts to little more than a rather brazen attempt to protect his own incumbency and that of other elected officials.

Campaign finance records available through the website indicate that, for example, during 1999, the third-highest contributor to what, at the time, was McCain's insurgent run at the Republican presidential nomination was Viacom ($47,750), which controls a number of TV outlets, including Showtime, which has a major investment in boxing.

The top eight corporate contributors to McCain's “Straight Talk America” political action committee from 1997-2002 included three companies that would be affected, one way or another, by the way McCain's bill was shaped – Viacom, AT&T (which controlled cable outlets and sold pay-per-view boxing events), and AOL Time Warner (which owns HBO, boxing's most powerful single entity).

And as for McCain's last U.S. Senate campaign, waged in 1998, the list of his top fifty corporate donors is replete with entities who have a substantial stake in boxing, and which have a “special interest” in avoiding the regulatory blanket – Viacom (3rd – $55,250), AT&T (4th – $51,563), NBC/General Electric (20th – $19,500), Fox/News Corp. (22nd – $19,050), Time Warner (T43rd – $12,000), and Univision (T43rd – $12,000), not to mention Anheuser-Busch (5th -$51,563), a company in which McCain has considerable financial interests, both individually (he has reported at least a half-million dollars in debentures) and through his family (which controls the largest distributorship in Arizona), and which over the past two decades has been boxing most prominent sponsor, with nearly all of that advertising delivered through television.

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, which McCain chairs and under whose domain the boxing bill falls, is heavily courted by companies with interests in the sport. For the six-year cycle between 1995-2000, the top committee-related contributors to committee members include: AT&T ($369,960), Time-Warner ($249,585), Viacom ($167,654), the Walt Disney Company, which owns ESPN ($147,758), and the National Cable Television Association ($129,101).

Noted boxing promoters like Don King, Bob Arum, Cedric Kushner, Main Events, Duva Boxing, Gary Shaw or DiBella Entertainment do not appear on that list; apparently there was not enough in the way of donations to rise in McCain's pecking order.

Despite his well-cultivated “reformer” image, McCain has time and again demonstrated that he is a creature of corporate America and a bedfellow of corporate lobbyists. His leveraging efforts have been particularly remarkable, and he's utilized his position on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee – first as the ranking Republican and now as chair – to extract hundreds of thousands of dollars from corporations he has regulatory power over.

McCain, who through his campaign finance measure is regarded by many First Amendment advocates as no friend of free speech, is notorious for freezing out consumer groups who would like to present their cases to his committee but who have not lavished him with campaign donations. According to a February 2000 story in the New York Press, representatives of corporations – the lion's share of which are directly tied to McCain's campaign war chests – out-number such consumer-interest groups by a 10-to-1 margin when it comes to appearances at committee hearings.

The causative links between campaign donations and special favors have become a McCain trademark. In 1999, after McCain-authored legislation to allow satellite TV companies to carry local programming in each market, which had previously been prohibited, was approved by his committee, one of the players who stood to experience a resulting windfall – EchoStar Communications – held a huge fund-raiser for McCain's presidential campaign.

During the 2000 primary season, as word came down that McCain was pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to act on a license transfer in favor of Paxson Communications, a company that had, to that date, “coordinated” $20,000 in contributions for his run at the nomination and treated him to many free flights on its corporate jet, his then-opponent, George W. Bush, was moved to remark, “I think somebody who makes campaign financing an issue has got to be consistent and walk the walk.”

Of course, one understands McCain's pattern of behavior more vividly upon an examination into his central role in the infamous “Keating Five” scandal, one of history's most naked examples of politicians exerting special levels of influence for the sake of large campaign contributors.

Charles Keating Jr., who owned the Lincoln Savings & Loan Association and was a major presence in Arizona, was under investigation by authorities – specifically the Federal Home Loan Bank Board – for making investments of such a speculative nature that they put at risk the government-insured money of depositors. Keating took issue with the premise of the investigation, and wanted the regulators off his back. He had, between 1982 and 1987, stuffed the campaign coffers of five United States Senators – John Glenn of Ohio, Dennis DeConcini of Arizona, Alan Cranston of California, Don Riegle of Michigan, and McCain – to the tune of $1.4 million.

At the same time, McCain family members, including his wife and father-in-law, were the chief investors in the Fountain Square Shopping Center, controlled and managed by Keating, with a stake estimated at $359,000. McCain and his family were also frequent vacation guests of Keating – traveling at Keating's expense on Keating's private jet to the resort Keating owned at Cat Cay in the Bahamas – at least nine times in all. Surely there were interests to protect on more than one front.

Although he later claimed to be very reluctant in doing so, McCain nonetheless couldn't resist in joining with his four Senate colleagues in April of 1987 to pressure regulators to end their investigation of Keating, which had been ongoing for two years. The regulators later testified that they felt intimidated by McCain's group, which was tagged the “Keating Five”.

To illustrate the justification of the investigation, the S&L controlled by McCain's friend Keating busted out, ruining thousands of investors and costing taxpayers $3.4 billion in bailouts, the worst hit in the entire saving and loan scandal.

There was also more than one call within his home state of Arizona for McCain to resign.

During this particular period in his career, McCain was hardly interested in raising the issue of campaign finance reform. In fact, quite the contrary – he resisted it at every turn and resisted others who made an effort in that direction. According to a December 8, 1987 story in the Phoenix Gazette

, “So why has Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., gone to unprecedented lengths to block reform of the Senate campaign finance system? Why does he oppose letting this important matter even come to a vote? Perhaps it's because he is a prime beneficiary of the special interest funding of congressional elections. McCain raised over $2.5 million for his 1986 election . . . more than $760,000 of his campaign funds came from political action committee (PACs) . . . especially disturbing are the contributions to McCain's campaign coffers from PACs outside of Arizona.”

And McCain simply embarrassed himself when his family's investment deals with Keating were uncovered. In September of 1989, as he was questioned about them by the Arizona Republic, he called the reporter “a liar” and denounced his efforts as “irresponsible journalism”. When pressed later, he told the same reporter, “That's the spouse's involvement, you idiot.”

In ultimately protecting one of their own, the Senate Select Committee on Ethics asserted McCain broke no laws, but did say this about the man who is now the self-professed “champion of campaign finance reform”:

“Mr. Keating, his associates, and his friends contributed $56,000 for Senator McCain's two House races in 1982 and 1984, and $54,000 for his 1986 Senate race. Mr. Keating also provided his corporate plane and/or arranged for payment for the use of commercial or private aircraft on several occasions for travel by Senator McCain and his family, for which Senator McCain ultimately provided reimbursement when called upon to do so. Mr. Keating also allowed Senator McCain and his family to vacation with Mr. Keating and his family, at a home provided by Mr. Keating in the Bahamas, in each of the calendar years 1983 through 1986……..”

According to a Time magazine story in December of 1999, ” He (McCain) denounces big-spending special interests and yet accepts flights on corporate jets; he puts the speaker of the Arizona house of representatives on his campaign payroll despite a flurry of ethics charges around him; he neglects to recuse himself from debates about measures that would affect his family beer business.”

Yet the writers, Nancy Gibbs and John F. Dickerson, insist, “But a funny thing happened on the way to his deathbed conversion (to campaign reformer): he really reformed.”

McCain's posture toward television interests in the process of crafting the boxing bill would strongly suggest otherwise.

On a personal note, as I reviewed some of the material for this story, my mind regressed to a couple of years ago, as I was compiling the investigative report “A Commission Run Amok”, which dealt with the Florida State Athletic Commission.

At the time, Mike Scionti, the commission's former executive director, was awaiting a hearing on ethics charges. He had been embroiled in a firestorm of controversy that eventually led to his firing by Governor Jeb Bush, over what was considered to be highly improper conduct while in office. A non-profit organization – a charity for youth – that the commission had established and Scionti had spearheaded, accepted a large donation from promoter Don King, after which Scionti had sought to change a commission regulation about promotional contracts that would have benefited King.

There was no evidence that any money went into Scionti's pocket directly, or that it went to furthering any personal agenda of Scionti's – public relations-related or otherwise.
Meanwhile, McCain had gone to bat, more aggressively and, by all accounts, with a much heavier hand, on behalf of entities that plowed money into his election campaigns and to political action committees that were designed to promote McCain's political objectives – in many respects creating a higher public profile for the senator, which has in turn spawned media coverage, book sales, and even more political donations.

And I'm saying to myself, isn't what McCain has done more devoid of an ethical foundation than what Scionti did? And are there not 500 others engaged in the same ballgame as McCain – albeit not as skillfully – on Capitol Hill?

The stories you hear about boxing people pale by comparison. If state boxing regulators conducted business in the same manner as McCain has conducted his business in Congress, would I not have been able to write about twenty “Operation Cleanup” books by now?

And given those parameters, at what price would we be placing the sport into the hands of politicians like him?

As one writer put it, “The John McCain of old should be thankful that his political fate wasn't determined by John McCain the reformer.”

I would suggest McCain's nothing more than an old dog who could care less about learning new tricks.

Copyright 2003 Total Action Inc.

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Articles of 2003

The Highs and Lows.



In a few days we'll be turning the page on 2003 and looking ahead to another year that is bound to be eventful- they almost always are.

But before we go full speed ahead to 2004, let's look back on what we've witnessed the past 12 months in the game of boxing.

And what we've found out is that sometimes the sports highlights, were also it's lowlights. Oftentimes, they were one in the same.

HIGHLIGHT: Vitali Klitschko's valiant performance against Lennox Lewis.

Coming in as a late replacement for Kirk Johnson, Klitschko would give the heavyweight champion all he could handle for six rounds before the fight was halted because of a grotesque cut over his left eye. In fighting so well and bravely against Lewis, he not only changed the perception of himself, but off his whole fighting family. The Klitschko name had been redeemed.

LOWLIGHT: Lennox Lewis's behavior with HBO's Larry Merchant after that fight.

Lewis has been a very respectable and representative champion during his reign. But he acted like a downright brat in his post-fight interview with Larry Merchant on live television. When confronted with the truth, he tried to hijack the interview by yanking the microphone away from Merchant, who had to hold on for dear life. During the bout he looked like a fading fighter on a bad night. Afterwords, he looked like an infant in need of a timeout.

HIGHLIGHT: Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward complete their thrilling trilogy. 

Gatti and Ward had a lot to live up to when they met for the third time this past June. And live up to it they did, in a fight with momentum shifts and a constantly changing ebb-and-flow. Gatti would overcome a damaged right hand to win a hard-fought ten round decision. It was a fitting conclusion to one of the games great rivalries and the career of Ward, who called it a day on a proud career.

LOWLIGHT: There will be no more Gatti-Ward in the future.

Which may actually be a good thing, because I'm not sure they could handle anymore of each other. But boxing will miss this rivalry.

HIGHLIGHT: Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley rematch.

It's always good for the business of boxing when 'the Golden Boy' engages in a mega-fight. The interest is high- even among the usually apathetic general media- boxing becomes the showcase event in the world of sports and everyone involved: from the fighters, to the promoters, the pay-per-view outlets and casino's make money.

LOWLIGHT: De La Hoya's and Arum's reaction to the decision in that fight.

It's one thing to think that you won a close fight, it's even acceptable to complain about the decision. But the manner in which both Oscar and his promoter cast aspersions on the judges and Nevada State Athletic Commission, were low blows of the Andrew Golota variety. Luckily for them, they were only given light slaps on the wrists for their irresponsible and incendiary comments.

But the bottom line is they both hurt the sport with their allegations and the fact that more than one media outlet ran with their quotes, further hurt boxing's reputation.

HIGHLIGHT: Roy Jones makes history

In defeating John Ruiz for the WBA heavyweight belt, Jones became the first middleweight in over a hundred years to win a heavyweight crown. This fight also did very well, registering over 500,000 pay-per-view buys, which is always a good sign for the industry.

LOWLIGHT: Jones' indecisiveness after that win.

Jones had all the momentum in the world after his win over Ruiz, but instead of capitalizing on it, he tried to pinch pennies with Evander Holyfield, threw out astronomical numbers for a fight with Mike Tyson( which is a loooong ways from ever happening) and then had to settle for a rather non-descript fight back at light heavyweight against Antonio Tarver.

HIGHLIGHT- Toney turns the 'Lights Out' on Holyfield

James Toney had seemingly been in exile since his embarrassing loss to Roy Jones in 1994. But he came back strong in 2003 with wins over Vassiliy Jirov and then a stoppage of Evander Holyfield, which stamped his entrance into the heavyweight division. The game can always use a few good big men and who cares if that comes in the form of former middleweights like Toney and Jones.

LOWLIGHTS: Holyfield isn't retiring.

'The Real Deal' maintained that he wouldn't retire till he won the undisputed title or got his hat handed to him. Well, after this bout it was evident that the former wasn't happening and the latter did. But like most other great fighters, they are the last to know when it's time to call it a day.

HIGHLIGHT: 'Pac Man' gobbles up Barrera.

It's always shocking and uplifting when a fighter bursts onto the scene and elevates himself the way Manny Pacquiao did against Marco Antonio Barrera this past November. Barrera, had universal acclaim as one of the sports premiere pound-for-pound performers. Pacquiao, while a respected fighter, was thought to be just a notable opponent for Barrera.

Instead, Barrera would get blitzed by the all-out, frenetic attack of the Filipino. Barrera would be simply overwhelmed by the punches of Pacquiao and his corner would have to rescue him from the onslaught of the southpaw in the eleventh round.

LOWLIGHT: Murad Muhammad allegedly gobbles up Pacquiao.

This was mentioned prominently on the HBO broadcast that out of the $700,000 license fee given to Pacquiao's promoter, Murad Muhammad, only about $300,000 had gone to the fighter. And that was before the money was cut up in various ways.

Once source close to the situation tells me that after all was said and done, Pacquiao, wound up with about $80,000. It looks like he may have taken a worse beating than the one he gave out.

HIGHLIGHT: Johnny Tapia comes out of a coma in January.

You gotta hand it to Tapia, most guys take standing eight counts, this little guy takes mandatory flat lines, this is about the third or fourth time he's been close to dead only to come off the canvas. Once again after another relapse in drugs, he would be in an intensive care unit battling for his life. As friends, family and loved ones surrounded him, he would beat the odds once again to walk out of the hospital and fight again.

LOWLIGHTS: Tapia reportedly overdoses in December.

Tapia swears that he did not overdose, but rather took some cold medication that he had an allergic reaction to. Uh, ok, sure, whatever you guys say. But do they have to insult everyone's intelligence, here? Isn't it time that Tapia got some real help for his problems?

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