IBF founder accused dashing dreams

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The Independent Online

The founder of the International Boxing Federation was accused on Tuesday of dashing the dreams of young boxers by taking no less than 32 bribes to rig his organization's rankings.

The racketeering trial of Robert Lee is expected to last three months, with testimony expected to touch on promoter Don King and former heavyweight champion George Foreman.

Lee and others in the IBF are accused of taking dlrs 338,000 in bribes to manipulate the rankings, which play a big role in determining a boxer's opponents and earnings.

Prosecutors maintain King was a prime beneficiary and call him and other promoters unindicted coconspirators. Foreman and 22 other boxers caught up in schemes outlined in a November indictment face no charges.

In his opening statement Tuesday, federal prosecutor Jose Sierra told the jury the case is about men who make "hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions, without ever throwing a punch."

The trial was to start last week, but Judge John Bissell put it on hold for a hearing on defense objections to undercover videotapes of three meetings between Lee and the FBI's key informant, C. Douglas Beavers, the IBF's longtime rankings chairman.

Bissell was initially inclined to bar the tapes from two of the meetings. He agreed with defense contentions that since Lee was to sleep in the suite where those meetings took place, his rights to privacy under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution were violated.

But prosecutors convinced him that Lee could not expect privacy in the sitting area of a hotel suite, where the camera had been concealed.

Bissell on Monday ruled all the videos admissible. He said the FBI took "reasonable safeguards" to avoid taping Lee when Beavers was not in the parlor.

Lee's schemes began shortly after starting the East Orange-based IBF in 1983, prosecutors say. As one of the world's three major sanctioning groups, its rankings have been the basis for many important fights.

Bissell has barred Lee, 66, from participation in the IBF, pending outcome of the trial. Bissell in January appointed a monitor to oversee the group.