The George Otto
Written testimony given by Mr. George L. Otto, on behalf of
The Jerry Quarry Foundation for Dementia Pugilistica, at the
National Association of Attorneys General Boxing task force
Hearing to examine boxing practices in the United States and
make recommendations to improve the industry, held at the down
town Athletic Club, Heisman Trophy Room, in New York City, New
York, January 19-21, 1999
Panel I -- State of the Sport -- January 19, 1999
INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW: First of all, I want to thank the National Association of Attorney Generals for inviting me to testify on the state of boxing today. The Jerry Quarry Foundation for Dementia Pugilistica supports these hearings and welcome this important opportunity to express its views on this significant topic. As we all well know, boxing is going through major changes in many areas. These include increases in the studying boxing safety issues, the growing emergence of women as professional fighters, the increased number of promotional events and fighters from outside the United States. and the changing role of the media in boxing. Below I will attempt several key difficulties.
In considering the issues before us in boxing today, The Jerry Quarry Foundation for Dementia Pugilistica believes that existing problems of boxing today primarily stem from the chaos in professional boxing. A good example of this occurs in the economics of the game. The major source of boxing of boxing revenue comes from the staging of bouts on cable and pay per view television outlets. to attract viewers, the television producers need Championship contests. This in turn, has partially led to the creation of different rankings of the fighters by various sanctioning bodies, such as the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO, IBA, and the IBO, the publicizing of particular fighters by managers, trainers, media representatives, sanctioning bodies and the promoters, the awarding of championship belts, ant the adoption of different rules for the individual bouts in terms of regulating the contest and resolving safety issues.
This process, in turn, has led to the advancement of some fighters at the expense of the others, multiple champions who often do not meet each other in the ring, considerable confusion on the part of boxing fans as to who the real champions are, and the unfair treatment of many fighters. As has been stated many times before, this process has led many people to ask questions regarding this way of doing business, particularly when one considers how much more orderly other sports conduct their business practices. these inquiries which occur often focus on the relationships among the television networks, sanctioning bodies, promoters, and fighters. Furthermore, many people wonder where the state boxing commissions fit into the scheme of things, keeping in mind that these people are appointed, not by themselves, but by the elected officials in their respective political jurisdictions.
As a result of having so many people involved in this industry without any orderly process, boxing cannot adequately address major challenges. These include developing uniform ratings, creating and inforceing safety standards, establishing pensions, providing substance abuse and mental health counseling opportunities for active fighters, training and licensing trainers and the medical personnel who work with fights, as well as the transitioning of retired boxers into other vocations and teaching them to handle their finances and resolve their personal problems on their own. And, perhaps most important of all, the ongoing confusion of who is in charge on so may issues undercuts the integrity of the game when image in sports seem to be so important.
In its attempt to bringing order to chaos, the Jerry Quarry Foundation strongly support the successful passage of the Professional Boxers Safety Act of 1996, the introduction into Congress of the State Safety Reciprocity Act in Professional Boxing Act of 1997, and it is currently advocating the passage and enactment of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 1998. These measures have fostered the resolution of chaos in the important areas of safety, contracts, rankings, and pensions. Furthermore the Foundation praises the efforts of U. S. Senators John McCain of Arizona and Richard Bryan of Nevada, U. S. Representative Eloanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia, Mr. Gregory Sirb, president of the Association of Boxing Commissioners, the American Association for the Improvement of Boxing, the National Association of Attorney Generals, WBC President Jose Sulaiman, and many other individuals and groups working to bring order to this sport.
The second most important problem is to uniformly and effectively address relatively new trends which are occurring in professional boxing. These include implementing the provisions of the Professional Boxings Safety Act, addressing the increasingly significant participation by women as professional boxers, and the growing involvement in the industry by people who live outside of the United States. The Foundation believes that we live in a world which is growing smaller and now fosters diversity in the work place, and that professional boxing must participate actively in that world.
Another issue is handling the increased interest on the part of the media in boxing, As we all may recall, the Nevada and New Jersey state boxing commissions professional came under intense scrutiny in deciding whether to reinstate Mike Tyson's boxing license. Furthermore the number of reporters and the media representatives at the various boxing hearings in Washington, D. C., is noticeably growing with each hearing. Furthermore, many fighters, boxing organization, and fans are establishing their own web sites on the internet, a trend which has increased the availability of information regarding boxing. What this means is that boxing must become aware of how it addresses its issues, the portrayals of their resolution, and how it wants the media to describe its images. The industry's healthiness depends greatly on how it handles this.
A final problem which boxing must address is helping the families who have lost loved ones directly or indirectly because of participation in boxing. Over the years numerous main event fighters of the 1960's have died at a relatively young age while leaving family members behind to cope with their losses. In the heavyweight division alone, these have included Eddie Machen, Sonny Liston, Leotus Martin, Ted Gullick, Zora Foley, Buster Mathis, Oscar Bonavena, and most recently, Jerry Quarry. Furthermore, other families currently have the burden of caring for their loved ones who gave their all to their sport over the years, but are unable to care for themselves. Included in this group are the families of former heavyweight champions Muhammad Ali and Floyd Patterson, ex-welterweight champion Wilfredo Benetez, Jimmy Bivens, Gerold McClellan, and the remaining Quarry brothers, Robert and Michael. No comprehensive program exist to address the emotional and financial issues of these people. The Boxing industry should also address this challenge as another opportunity to take care of its own.
Thank you for allowing me to address you today. And, on another issue, on behalf of the Foundation, the Quarry family members, and the many fans of Jerry Quarry, I want to thank you for your prayers and messages of support and concern in response to the recent passing of Jerry Quarry. Your expressions of sympathy have been most appreciated.
Written Testimony Given by Mr. George Otto at the NAAG Boxing Task Force Public Hearing, Downtown Athletic Club, New York City, January 19-21 1999
Third Day, January 21, 1999, Panel I -- Organizations for Boxers
On behalf of The Jerry Quarry Foundation for Dementia Pugilistica, I want to thank all of you for allowing me to describe this organization. of all, the Foundation began its work October 14, 1994. Founded by the late Jerry Quarry and his eldest brother, James, the organization began its work in part because, at that time, three of the four Quarry brothers, Jerry Mike and Robert were suffering from disabling injuries incurred as a result of their all having fought as main event professional boxers.
The Jerry Quarry Foundation has consistently supported legislation promoting the health, safety, and financial well-being of both fighters and the boxing industry. Hence it has advocated for the passage of the professional Boxing Act, the State Reciprocity Act in Professional Boxing, and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act through active efforts in Washington D.C. It has also supported the efforts of boxers organizing boxers into their own union.
In addition to those efforts, the Foundation has promoted the researching of traumatic head injuries resulting from participation in all sports in supporting the prevention or minimization of injuries. Thus it has attempted top collaborate its efforts with the Southwest Research Clinic, the Washinton University Medical School, and the Brain Injury Association.
Partially because of what happened to the three Quarry brothers, the Foundation believes that genetic factors may play a significant role in the onset and severity of head trauma injuries. Therefore it strongly supports all research efforts leading to the development of a screening device to measure a person's propensity to suffer severe brain injuries as a result of receiving blows to the head. Furthermore, it will support any and all efforts on part of any university or governmental entity working towards that goal.
Thank you for listening to me. Please feel free to ask any questions.