Exorcising Boxing…One Demon at a Time

10.02.06 - By Kevin Kincade: Over the last two days I’ve read of a couple of well-intentioned articles concerned with improving the sport in some way. What this tells me is, obviously, there is an undercurrent among the boxing fans that something’s wrong. Let’s have a super-heavyweight division, let’s have a super-fighter tournament, etc., etc., etc. Well, since I consider these two suggestions kind of radical and going in the wrong direction, allow me to submit a simple suggestion..

1.) One world=One World Champion.

Obvious enough isn’t’ it? To me, part of the problem with the decline of the popularity of the sport is the persistence of sanctioning bodies breeding like rabbits. Boxing was popular when everybody knew who the champ was. Now, if you ask someone who the champion is in any division, they ask you…”Which one?”; that is, if they even have a clue.

People are too busy with life to try to keep up with who won what belt and understand how one man can be a 147 LB champion while the man he just beat for the title is STILL recognized by one organization as CHAMPION of the same division for some asinine reason. IT’S TOO CONFUSING!!! The average fan doesn’t want to have to keep up with all that political malarkey! So, frustration leads to apathy and apathy leads to fewer and fewer fans, which leads to fewer and fewer butts in seats and PPV receipts, more articles suggesting how to fix boxing, and, ultimately, everybody talking about the sport in the past tense because you’re so far behind on who’s on top you don’t bother to try to catch up. SOUND FAMILIAR?!

So, how do we keep from going from point A to point F? Well, we have to start with the heart of the problem….the sanctioning bodies. Let’s face it; they are the root of all evil in boxing. Oh sure, each one has contributed some to the greater good; but all have succeeded in contributing more to the greater bad….so to speak. In an attempt to contribute to boxing for the better of all fighters while making a pretty penny for themselves, they have succeeded in growing into a potentially malignant tumor on the body of the sport, itself. They all might have started off with the best of intentions; but in the end, the end result will be all that matters, intentions or no. Sometimes to save the patient, the doctor has to amputate a limb. As far as the sanctioning bodies are concerned…OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!!

“But you can’t just get rid of sanctioning bodies.” No, I can’t; but there are those who have power and there are steps that can be taken by those bold enough and with enough legal savvy to take them. For what it’s worth, here’s my suggestion: All State Athletic Commissions need to get together and outline a standard set of rules for boxing by which they all agree to abide. The New York, New Jersey, and the Nevada State Athletic Commissions could really lead the way in this regard. After the rules are set up, find a standard barer by which all could use as a compass; I’m thinking “Ring” magazine. Everybody uses them anyway….the owner of the “Ring” Championship belt is usually seen as the real world champion. So, LET’S MAKE IT OFFICIAL! “Ring” has always proclaimed they are here for the betterment of boxing….well, here’s their chance. If you own the Ring Championship Belt, financially, you are compensated as a World Champion. The promoter will benefit from this system as well. Think about the bargaining power a promoter could have if his fighter owned an official “Ring Belt”; all those networks fighting to show the real world title fight on their piece of the air. A “Ring” Belt fighter would stand to make more money if all the other alphabet champions were either weeded out through financial starvation or in the ring with him….in which case THEY could make stupid money as well!! There would be some suffering for promoters and commissions to begin with; but it would pass. The time has come to put our money where our mouth is. Either quit complaining about the situation at hand, or dig down and fix it! Take authority away from the “official” organizations by not recognizing them. Only the Commissions can do this.

You want to get more extreme? Fine fighters, or ban them completely if they choose to fight for a vacant alphabet title in a division where there is a “Ring” Titlist. At the very least…Don’t allow a sanctioning body title fight in your state. Sure, that could potentially cost some money to the commissions; but this is about principles…and freedom from sanctioning bodies doesn’t come free, ya know. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THAT’S NOT FAIR TO THE FIGHTERS??!! THIS IS WAR!!!! TELL ‘EM TO CHOOSE SIDES!!

I’m not saying fighter “A” can’t fight fighter “B”….I’m just saying it won’t be for a world title unless “Ring” magazine says it is! What’s wrong with that?! Not every good fighter deserves to be world champion. One of the big arguments for sanctioning bodies is: it gives fighters who might never have received an opportunity to fight for a title a shot. Well pardon me while I wipe away a tear. Maybe he didn’t deserve a shot at the title, did you think of that?!

Besides, The “Ring” has rankings, don’t they? And 9 times out of 10 their rankings are far more accurate than ANY of the sanctioning bodies. WONDER WHY THAT IS?? Let’s sidestep the issue of sanctioning bodies. The Ring has a clearly laid out criteria for defenses and time-tables and such…just use them instead of the alphabet boys. It’s called a “boycott” and I didn’t come up with the notion…it’s been around for quite some time and it’s quite effective when the people behind it stick to their guns….ask Denmark how effective a boycott is. (this is not a political statement for or against the Danish situation…it is merely an example of how effective a boycott can be when executed effectively and consistently) If the Alphabet Soup boys can’t get sanctioning fees from fights here in the states, they’re going to have to go elsewhere. THEN WHO’S POCKET BOOK IS GOING TO BE HURTING?! SEE HOW LONG THEY SURVIVE WITHOUT CASINOS! Sure, they can make money elsewhere, until each country’s various athletic commissions join in. If athletic commissions around the world unite behind this common cause, we will be rid of sanctioning bodies within the decade.

What I am proposing, if you haven’t picked up on it yet, is an international boycott of all sanctioning bodies and their title fights. The result will be more and more fighters abdicating their alphabet thrones in pursuit of paydays….and eventually greener pastures fighting for the One True World Championship in their weight class and the fans knowing who the world champ is. No confusion=more viewership=more revenue=boxing is saved.

I know this is all very extreme; but I am very passionate about the sport I love….and I figured as long as crazy ideas were being talked about, I might as well throw my hat into the ring.

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Article posted on 11.02.2006

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