IBF chief enters innocent plea

International Boxing Federation president Bob Lee pleaded innocent today in connection with a 32-count federal racketeering indictment charging that rankings were rigged.

International Boxing Federation president Bob Lee pleaded innocent today in connection with a 32-count federal racketeering indictment charging that rankings were rigged.

Lee and three others in the IBF solicited $338,000 in bribes, the indictment alleges.

Lee did not speak during the hearing, at which prosecutors revealed that they would be giving the defense several hundred hours of audio and video tapes collected during an investigation. They also are seeking to freeze two IBF bank accounts.

A judge will rule on that at the end of the month and set a tentative trial date of 11 January.

The charges followed a two-year federal grand jury inquiry.

The indictment charges a 13-year conspiracy in which IBF rankings were bought, prompting a federal prosecutor to call the IBF's claim of fair ratings "a bald-faced lie."

The indictment refers to seven promoters and 23 boxers involved in briberies only by number.

The indictment said that in May 1998, Lee solicited $25,000 from a promoter to make Fernando Vargas, then No 5 contender, to No 1. Lee and others made the change the next month, and in December 1998, Lee accepted $25,000 from that promoter, the indictment said.

Heavyweights have few mentions in the indictment, but it does charge that Lee and others took $100,000 from a promoter in 1995 to allow a bout between a heavyweight champion and a previously unranked boxer.

There was only one such fight that year, when George Foreman defeated Axel Schulz to retain his title.

The indictment also charged that Lee and others took $100,000 from a different promoter in May 1995 to mandate a rematch between the two heavyweights. Foreman later refused to give Schulz a rematch and was stripped of his titles.

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