Bill would limit how boxing industry does business

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Monday that would make it illegal for a boxing-sanctioning body to take a bribe and would limit the kinds of contracts promoters can require of fighters.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Monday that would make it illegal for a boxing-sanctioning body to take a bribe and would limit the kinds of contracts promoters can require of fighters.

"We're going to chase hangers-on and self-promoters out of the game," said Rep. Mike Oxley, the bill's House sponsor. "We want to make sure fights are fair. There's nothing more American than a fair fight."

Rep. Tom Bliley noted the bill's seal of approval from Ring Magazine, which wrote that it would "get rid of the bandits and parasites in this sport."

The Muhammad Ali Boxing Act, endorsed by the great heavyweight, could be on President Bill Clinton's desk by week's end, Oxley said.

Although temporarily stalled by lawmakers who saw it as an attack on boxing's most successful promoter, Don King, the bill was approved by voice vote, a procedure reserved for noncontroversial measures.

The legislation's main goal is to protect young fighters from exploitation. And it encourages states to adopt uniform criteria for rating boxers - a proposal included even before a grand jury accused International Boxing Federation officials of taking bribes to manipulate rankings.

The bill does not go as far as the original version by Sen. John McCain, who wanted to make it illegal for fight broadcasters to have a direct or indirect financial interest in a boxer's manager or management company.

Differences between the bills would have to be resolved before the measure could go to the White House.

The House legislation would:

Ban bribes to sanctioning bodies, a provision included because the organizations are international and "there was a question about whether they were covered under current bribery laws," Oxley said.

Require promoters, sanctioning bodies, referees and judges to tell state regulators what they're getting paid and by whom.

Bar so-called coercive contracts, in which a boxer signs away rights for more thancondition for securing a particular fight.

Allow suspensions of fighters for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Prohibit conflicts of interest for boxing managers and promoters.

Require state boxing commissions to certify and approve all referees and judges.

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