Whether I’m writing the Rant for one more week or one more decade, the one thing that I want you to take away from this column is the fact that much of what makes boxing tick takes place far away from the ring. If at the end of this bomb-throwing ne’er-do-well’s run as boxing scribe just one or two readers walk away with a critical eye and a finely-honed BS detector, I’ll be happy.
I’m not a reporter in the traditional sense and I certainly don’t consider myself a journalist, but I know the sport and I know the boxing culture to a degree that most other writers don’t. This isn’t a boast, it’s just the reality that a kid growing up where I did, hanging out in gyms and working almost his entire adult life around fighters (albeit at a very low level) picks up a few more things than some well-fed suburban kid educated entirely by what he sees on HBO and Showtime.
I’m no trivia expert or historian, but I know a hustle and I know when bullshit is bullshit. I now make my living busting up corruption in charitable organizations. And, in an environment where people actually want to know the truth and value an independent, critical mind, I do quite well for myself. In the boxing world, though, it has cost me friends, allies, and a significant amount of money.
When I say that fights are fixed all the time, it’s because it’s the truth. It’s just that nobody has the balls to say it.
There are all types of fixes, though, from the more obvious dive to the less obvious, but equally disgusting, matchmaking fix where professional punching bags are bred at the club level around the world for later consumption. Have you been at a gym where a good loser is solicited? I have. And I imagine that many, many other trainers and managers have received similar calls.
The system in boxing is fixed as well.
How can veteran Nevada judge Duane Ford (of Bradley-Pacquiao fame) be seamlessly transitioned into a gig on the WBC Board of Governors as President of the NABF without anybody bothering to notice? Seems like a bit of a conflict to me when a sanctioning body with a dubious ethical history reaches out to reward an official whose primary responsibilities, ostensibly, are to the state and to serve in the safety and well-being of fighters. Of course, this is all part of the game. We’re supposed to believe that the sport’s sanctioning bodies are there to sanction the sport and not to make sure the money men get their way. We’re supposed to think similarly of the state commissions. One hand washes the other and we all pretend that the sport begins and ends with what happens in the ring. But what the hell do I know?
And then there’s the media, the last line of defense between the sport’s compulsion to corrode and the best interest of the fan and fighter.
Almost worse than the do-nothings in the boxing media are the do-gooders who, invariably, pick and choose their outrages based on their own preferred company.
Tim Starks of The Queensberry-Rules, who pontificates less and less these days , is the perfect example of this selective moral compass.
In his last Quick Jabs column, Starks had this to say about an “increasingly partisan media” and those in the media who serve as “unofficial PR arms for the people they represent.”
And yet, you had The Sweet Science’s Ray Markarian defending Khan, saying on Twitter, incorrectly, “@AmirKingKhan said he sparred with @andreward sparring partners. He never said that he sparred with Andre Ward! #boxing” Markarian is exceptionally close with the Hunter camp, to the point that it’s embarassing. It’s just the latest example of the increasingly partisan media: Guys hitch themselves to one promoter or one trainer or one boxing individual and defend them at all costs, even if in some cases it means saying things that aren’t true. They are unofficial PR arms for the people they “represent.” Elie Seckbach does it with the camp of Robert Garcia. FightHype does it with Mayweather. Gabriel Montoya does it with Victor Conte. The list doesn’t end there. All of these reporters and outlets still produce valuable stories at times; I like some of them personally; it’s just disappointing that they have their favorites and a critical thought is never given to the ones they choose to cover that way. Caveat emptor…
Bravo. We’ve been saying the same thing at The Boxing Tribune for ages. However, Starks leaves out his buddies who do the same thing in the name of his own pet project, The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB). And, of course, he forgets to lump himself into that group of scribes advocating and reporting on the same subject.
The TBRB’s coup d’état on the media raises ethical red flags all over the place as a group of journalists who clearly use their role as journalists to advocate for the increased power and influence of their own group.
One wonders whether Starks, who makes his living doing straight journalism for Congressional Quarterly Roll Call, would play so free and loose with ethics related to his day job. Would Starks ever think about forming an advocacy group in Washington DC or becoming a lobbyist while applauding and pushing for his own efforts in the body of his work for CQ Roll Call? Of course not. From first hand experience, I know Starks is always very careful to steer clear of political discussions in an effort to preserve the appearance of impartiality. However, he offers his boxing hobby no such consideration.
When it came to his TBRB group, Starks gladly assumed the role of news maker and advocate while never abandoning the role of journalist. He has now put himself into a position where he wants to affect changes on the sport while reporting on his own efforts and using his credibility as a journalist to affirm the correctness of his own work. The perfect storm of perfect circle jerks.
Similar to when Max Boxing’s Gabriel Montoya was busted for writing glorious reports about what turned out to be his own efforts as a “secret consultant” for promoter, InterBox, Starks is “going there” and is apparently not doubting his efforts in the least.
Quick to lecture on ethics, Starks doesn’t see any of this and, instead, picks on well-known dung-heaps Steve Kim and Gabriel Montoya while giving his fellow board members a pass on their own brushes with ethical misconduct.
Speaking of which…
Michael Woods is editor-in-chief of The Sweet Science as well as a member of the TBRB and the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).
The Sweet Science’s contest for an all expenses paid trip for two to see Saul Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo (along with several other goodies) is a real, legitimate crossing of the line between journalism and advocacy/public relations.
The contest, apparently co-sponsored by Leija Battah Promotions, effectively turns The Sweet Science into an advertising firm.
Can you imagine CNN offering a free, all expenses paid trip to meet President Obama at the White House….during election time?
Now, when it comes to Leija Battah or, for that matter, Alvarez or Angulo or Golden Boy, how are we supposed to receive The Sweet Science’s coverage of any of them? None of us are in the habit of pissing off and alienating partners, sponsors, or allies so can we assume the same of Woods and his site?
And how should we receive tweets like the following, considering the promotion and whatever relationship he may or may not have with the promoters? It could be as innocent as a writer acting as a fan, or not:
Wet ur appetite for Canelo-Angulo. http://t.co/i9fVHh0NsA
— Michael Woods (@Woodsy1069) February 14, 2014
Emails to Woods to clarify the promotion and his site’s stance on these types of things were never answered.
It’s not that Starks, Woods, or any of these people are necessarily bad people. Even Kim and Montoya, at some level (presumably…I guess), are decent human beings. I don’t believe that anyone is making a killing with anything related to their conflicts of interest. It’s just that they, deep down inside and when it comes to boxing, don’t care all that much about keeping the litter off the front yard. Maybe the assumption is that fans don’t know or don’t care about any such conflicts, so why not do whatever the hell they feel like doing. Whatever the case, when it comes to boxing, there seems to be a certain ethical/professional disconnect.
It may be because boxing is the neighborhood bitch. Nobody feels bad about bending the rules in boxing. And when it comes to the media’s role in the dark side of the sport, it just doesn’t register that boxing is a real thing with real people in it.
For those media members who aren’t sociopaths, they are simply not connected. Really, how could you expect them to be? Boxing is a hobby for most members of the media, shown the same level of respect and care that a model ship builder would show to the plastic pieces in his kit. Yeah, everyone gives lip service to reform and to fighting the good fight for the men and women who give their all to the sport, but why would you expect anyone to put themselves on the line in a full-on war for a passing, albeit cool, hobby?
The professionals, on the other hand, who actually are making a living wage from the sport, have to be careful about keeping that gig. Competition is fierce, why accidentally step on the wrong toe?
There are few real soldiers out there, willing to care more for the sport than for pats on the back and memberships in fraternal boxing writing societies. I’ve found several, who have become professional friends, allies, and mentors…my hope is that there are some more out there and that maybe, possibly something I may have said sparks something in them to do my job better than I have been able to do.
And if not?
It was still worth it giving a big middle finger to the douche bags, hypocrites, and dip-shits that never seem to get called on the carpet.
According to a person with knowledge of the situation, Max Boxing writer/co-owner Steve Kim tried a bit of physical intimidation on RingTV’s Mark Ortega at a club show Saturday night.
For those who recall, in September of 2012 another Max Boxing writer, Gabriel Montoya, slapped Ortega in a Las Vegas bar and challenged the rail-thin kid to meet him in a four round bout.
Nothing ever came of that bout, however, as Ortega pulled out at the request of his then-boss, Tim Starks.
In this particular case, a source who was present at the Ray Alcorta show at Hawaiian Gardens, Saturday night, witnessed Kim and a group of Twitter cronies (who reportedly called themselves the “Hash Tag Bullies”…I shit you not) attempting to physically intimidate Ortega before a shoving match ensued and Kim slapped at Ortega.
This latest pathetic media vs. media incident was apparently spurred on by Ortega’s social media statements regarding the fact that the over-40 Kim still resides at home with Mommy.
I don’t care to investigate someone’s personal life and living arrangements, so I won’t be getting into whether Ortega’s statements are true. Ortega is no innocent in all of this, but it’s easy to see where any sane person could be goaded into taking shots at two social media divas who are nothing but catty and dismissive when it comes to anyone who refuses to show them absolute deference. The Max Boxing twins of Kim and Montoya have been the bullies of the media block for awhile and have counted on a spineless media that tolerates their nastiness and lack of professionalism. I don’t feel sorry for any return fire that comes their way.
For those of you who read my Rant on Rodrigo Mosquera and his alleged removal of padding from the glove of his fighter, Ricardo Rodriguez, prior to a fight– and you would’ve had to have read it here or in Fight Opinion, since no other sites picked up the story– the California commission issued its final decision on the issue last Monday.
Mosquera’s suspension was upheld through the expiration of his license and issued the maximum $2,500 fine. Rodriguez, on the other hand, received no fine and was credited with time served.
You can watch the full hearing HERE (video is already cued to Mosquera case)
You can email Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org, tell him how much you hate him, and then buy his book, Notes from the Boxing Underground! Paul is a full member of the Burger King Kids’ Club, a born iconoclast, and an ordained minister in the Universal Life Church.