Interview With Tom Molloy, The Executive Director Of The Florida State Boxing Commission

by Pavel Yakovlev - (9/26/10) While covering events in Florida, this writer has often encountered Tom Molloy, the Executive Director of the Florida State Boxing Commission. Affable but tough, Molloy’s presence is conspicuous at weigh-ins and at ringside, as he wears a state official’s badge that makes him look somewhat like a lawman from an old Western movie.

Molloy definitely takes a no-nonsense approach to enforcing the rules. It is well known that many managers and promoters bemoan not being able to secure easy opponents for their fighters in Florida. Concerning his philosophy for sanctioning matches, Molloy is direct. “I won’t allow anyone to make a fight where one boxer has an advantage 90% to his opponent’s 10%. I won’t even allow an 80% to 20% to take place here. If anyone wants to stage a fight like that, the Florida border is up north…they can try a different state,” says Molloy..

Since taking office in 2006, Molloy has won respect among boxing industry figures. Prominent matchmaker Johnny Bos, for example, feels Molloy’s influence is a boon to Florida boxing. According to Bos, “Florida is the best state to develop a prospect, because the fighter will get tough competition from the start.”

Florida promoter Henry Rivalta of The Heavyweight Factory praises Molloy as well. In a recent interview with Phil Doherty of Fort Lauderdale’s, Rivalta explained, “I have to give credit to Florida Boxing commissioner, Tom Molloy.  He has really improved the quality of refereeing and judging here in the state. When he came in, we didn’t always see eye-to-eye but I understand what he’s trying to do in Florida and it makes sense. He’s really tightened the reigns to prevent uneven cards and protect our boxers.”

Recently, Molloy granted an exclusive interview to ESB.

ESB: Can you tell us about your background, and how you first became involved in boxing?

MOLLOY: I’m from Long Island. I got involved with boxing because I was sick of getting beat up on the streets. I wanted to learn how to protect myself.

ESB: I understand that you boxed in the military, correct?

MOLLOY: I went into the Marine Corps in the early 1970s, and I boxed on the Marine Corps boxing team. When I came out, I went pro.

ESB: Did you participate in the New York Golden Gloves?

MOLLOY: I bypassed that system, because I wanted to turn pro immediately. I was in the corps for six years, and I had 37 amateur fights.

ESB: You boxed professionally in the New York City area between 1977 and 1982. During this period, you sparred with many top professionals. Do you have any comments or anecdotes to share about these experiences?

MOLLOY: I sparred with Emile Griffith, Saoul Mamby, Vito Antuofermo, and Roberto Duran, to name a few. I remember that Duran was a more powerful puncher to the body than to the head.

ESB: After retiring as a professional boxer, you became a trainer and manager. The highlight of your management career was guiding Willy Wise to an upset win over Julio Cesar Chavez. When you made that fight, did you expect Wise to win, and why?

MOLLOY: I expected Willie to win. I knew it was toward the end of Chavez’s career; they were trying to set him up to fight Tzsyu. Chavez needed a tune-up, and looked at us as an easy fight. I knew that if we used our angles and speed, we’d win the fight, and we did.

ESB: As the Executive Director of the Florida State Boxing Commission, ensuring the safety of fighters is the most important part of your job. How do you accomplish this?

MOLLOY: I’m sure not to put on mismatches. I avoid guys who get knocked out a lot. If guys haven’t trained, I won’t let them fight. It comes down to knowing styles, knowing fighters, knowing what match-ups makes sense. Safety is at the top of the list of my duties.

ESB: Before you approve a fight, you ensure that the boxers are not too unequal in terms of ability. How do you assess a fighter’s ability? Do you check records, rely on feedback from industry figures, watch films, or anything else?

MOLLOY: I do a lot of telephone work. I’ll start calling around to different matchmakers, commissioners, and other guys, and get information about a fighter. I usually talk to about three different people anytime I check up on a fighter. I study records. I study fight films when they’re available. I get all the information and make a decision on that basis.

ESB: How do you preempt fighters from using illegal methods to gain a competitive edge in fights, such as loading gloves beforehand? Everyone knows about the Panama Lewis scandal in New York City in 1983. What do you do before a fight to prevent something like this from happening?

MOLLOY: The inspectors are the ones in the dressing rooms, in the trenches, watching the hands being wrapped. Beforehand I sit down with the inspectors to go over what to look for, and then ask for their input.

ESB: What about the issue of fixed fights, where a boxer enters the ring with a prearranged agreement to fake a knockout loss? I remember some well publicized allegations of fight fixing in Florida from the early 1990s, even though the allegations were never proven in court. How do you preempt these incidents in Florida now?

MOLLOY: That kind of thing is more like what we see in the movies. If I see a guy who isn’t putting in 100%, we’ll withhold his check and investigate. We’ll find out what’s wrong.

ESB: Does Florida require regular brain scans of fighters, and if so, how often do the scans occur?

MOLLOY: No, we don’t require regular scans. We rely on the head physician’s input on when to do scans, and the head physician will recommend one if a guy has been kayoed a lot.

ESB: The issue of when a referee should stop a match is an important element of boxers’ safety in the ring. When is it appropriate for a referee to declare a TKO? Obviously, with each passing decade over the last half century, boxing officials have become increasingly inclined to stop fights sooner rather than later to protect a fighter. What’s your point of view on this subject?

MOLLOY: I talk with the referees beforehand, and we go over the different scenarios, anticipating what kinds of things could happen, and how the referee will react. Obviously, we don’t want to stop a fight too soon, but we don’t want to stop a fight too late, either. We try to prepare for all possibilities, so that we can react immediately to anything that happens. Ultimately, it’s the referee’s call. I will say that the referee has one of the toughest jobs in boxing in this respect.

Article posted on 27.09.2010

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