Tom Moran: "They Hijacked the Union"

30.01.04 - By Keith Terceira: Tom Moran, longtime manager and friend of Tim Witherspoon phoned me shortly after my piece with Walter Kane today. He was very instrumental in clearing up some issues for the Boxing Organizing Committee and clouding the waters even more for J.A.B. Moran came right out and said that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters had hijacked the union after Tim Witherspoon, who was the first To sign a union card refused to sell boxers out and have the B.O.Cís independence taken over by the Teamsters.

ďWe went to a luncheon with Danny and Walter Kane and we were asked to participate in JAB. We clearly said that Paulís still involved and Jose Torres was still involved. Our thing was the more people that were sincere and meant the right thing the better for BoxingĒ Moran commented.

Keith; Was Tim still fighting when you all meet?

Moran; He was at the end of his career but he was still active. Yes, he was.

Keith; Paul Johnson had been active as well when he started things out with B.O.C. right?

Moran: Yes that is true as well?

Keith; So you did have a couple of fighters starting a union?

Moran; The first thing I said was that the we liked the Teamsters because they are a big union they have the financial resources but we also have a marketing problem. We have a sport that is probably the worse marketed sport, and then we were dealing with a union that has its own problems, visibility wise. So the last thing we could do in the beginning was look like our solution was to bring in the Teamsters. If the Teamsters had been willing to say itís a new style Teamsters, that it was a Boxers Union. That last thing we wanted was the Teamsters in control of our pension plan. The other thing we were smart enough to see from the beginning was, look we are not going to get lead down the path, and have something get sprung on us later, we wanted to control up front that the boxers controlled their union 100%. The whole issue was not about money they (IBT) was interested in giving us money, we were not going to sell out boxers so we said up front you have to give us in writing that the Boxers controlled this union. They would say it but as soon as you got into depth they would appoint the Executive Director. The reason Eddie Mustafaís name came up , is because Eddieís been a long time friend of Timís and he is a friend of mine, when we were talking about local guys organizing in different cities like a guy to organize Vegas etc. I brought up Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. So sometime after we stood up for boxers and said look there is know way that we are going to ask boxers to sign union cards without knowing that boxers are in control, we are not going to sell them on something unless we are fully informed. As much as Tim wanted the Job and wanted to be a leader, and as much as he has stood up for boxing, he said the last thing he was going to do is lead boxers down a path that I donít know where its going.

Keith; What was with this change in UBA to JAB?

Moran; The one thing that happened was that IBT went and printed up all these union cards. I went out and got a lot of cards signed 40 -50. Buster at Shulers Gym in Philly got all these guys to sign cards. This was months before Eddie Mustafa Muhammad even knew about JAB. We didnít want to give them the cards until we knew exactly what the deal is for boxers. I knew that by turning the cards over and the cards said JAB on them, when they realized that we werenít slow and were going to stand up for boxers Basically what happened is without us knowing what was going on they went to Eddie and got Eddie and did a press release.

Keith; So you had signed union cards that had been agreed to by B.O.C. with the name of the Union changed from UBA to JAB. One of the Teamsters demands. Making it a B.O.C. organized Union. But how then did the IBT take control and go to Eddie?

Moran; Before Eddie even knew there was a JAB I had signed cards that I would not turn over to the Teamsters and the reason I wouldnít , is we had talked about an affiliation agreement and they would always say that boxers controlled the union, my thing was ok, but we had to get it in writing. I am not stupid if we gave them the cards then they have the power. We were not turning over the cards until we knew Boxers were getting the right kind of deal. I felt responsible for all those people who had signed cards. Walter Kane is a teamsterís lawyer; Kane said to me that Hoffa was how I feed my family. I saw what they did is Hijacked the boxers union. We wanted and needed their help, but the last thing we wanted was to be blindly committed to the Teamsters and having them controlling it. Then they went and did their own thing without us.

Keith; Do you still have the signed cards?

Moran; I am sure that Buster still has them, I never told him to throw them out.

Keith; What bothers me is that you had members the BOC had the union started long before Eddie got involved.

Moran; Yes, the first union card ever signed was by Tim Witherspoon and they know that because. Ask them Ask them at the point they gave Tom Moran and Tim Witherspoon a couple of hundred JAB cards Did Eddie Mustafa know anything about JAB? In fact I probably have 50 witnesses at the Bernard Hopkins fight in Philly. One of the things that were funny is that they were trying to get fighters to sign cards that night and we said no we would take care of that because we knew it would empower them. The whole issue was control of the union. Not about the money. We had cards signed. We wanted to discuss the affiliation agreement before turning over the cards. I wanted a guarantee that boxers would control the union. Tim was the same way. They offered Tim a $60,000 a year position, and Timís whole thing was he wanted a completely independent, free organization and when it came time to do an affiliation agreement they could do it with anyone they wanted to. If the Teamsters were the best group fine.

Keith; You wanted the boxers to choose the affiliation then right?

Moran; What was our right to go to boxers and get them all to join then tell them, by the way you are stuck with the Teamsters. We even offered that they could turn it into a loan to be repaid rather than give up our independence. They said it was the best that they could do. We even agreed to pay it back if we didnít affiliate with the teamsters. I give Kane credit for stepping up and being willing to put money in but the money had strings attached that we wanted no parts of. How could we commit boxers to and affiliation with the Teamsters?

Keith; Is it safe to say that when you guys turned them down that they took your Ideas and went on without you?

Moran Yes, but the thing I get a kick out of is they are so completely devoid of originality. Ever time there is a issue in boxing like Arum at Top Rank being raided they issue a press release on why there should be a Boxers Union.

We ended our discussion here. I want to thank Tom for his help

I also want to say that if there were 60 signatures prior to Eddie getting involved with JAB and the first was by Tim Witherspoon then Tim, Jose Torres, and Paul Johnson founded J.A.B. originally called UBA, until the IBT muscled in.

Why would someone sign with an organization that does this to boxers and the people that got things rolling?

What they did is in fact turn down the Teamsters terms not give up their union to the Kane brothers and Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. No means No, Not here's our ideas take them from us because we don't want you.

Maybe the watchdog group that keeps an eye on the Teamsters should take a look into this little matter of who, when, and how a boxers union got started.

Perhaps the B.O.C. should get its own lawyer involved.

Like in the sport it seems there are contenders and pretenders in the unionizing taking place.

Article posted on 30.01.2004

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