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Joe Bruno on Boxing

By Joe Bruno---Former Vice President of the New York Boxing Writers
Association and the International Boxing Writers Association

News Item: New York Boxing Writers Announce their yearly awards.
Although they now bill themselves as the Boxing Writers of America, in early January
the New York Boxing Writers did one of the two things they actually do to justify their
existence (besides bending their elbows at wet luncheons), when they announced their
yearly boxing awards.

Now let's examine the dubious voting process, that somehow awarded Lennox
"The Lummox" Lewis the 1999 Fighter of the Year. Lewis had two fights in 1999, both
lackluster bouts with ancient and ring-worn Evander Holyfield. In the first Holyfield fight,
Lewis was robbed by blind-judge officials, especially one Eugenia Williams, and their
waltz was declared a draw. In the second fight, which many at ringside thought Holyfield
had won (the ringside press were 3-1 in favor of Holyfield), Lewis won an uninspired 12-
round unanimous decision. For this Lewis wins the NY Boxing Writers Fighter of the
Year Award. How can that be? Well, if you look closely, there's a reason, no matter how
dubious and contrived.

Being a member of the New York Boxing Writers from 1979-1991, I attended
many NY Boxing Writer luncheons, where the nominations were taken for their various
awards. Of the 60 odd members of the NY Boxing Writers, approximately half are public
relations people who work for various promoters, or television networks like HBO and
Showtime, who are in the business of robbing the paying public by showcasing dreadful
fight cards at $49.99 a pop. Some of the PR people are staff. Others are freelance. But
they all stuff their pockets with the boxing public's hard earned cash, that trickles down
through the dirty paws of fascists like Seth "The Shrimp" Abraham of HBO, Bob
"Bullspit" Arum and Dung King

After chomping down a roast beef lunch, and quaffing more than a few cocktails,
the members of the NY Boxing Writers are then asked to nominate someone for each
award. In almost every case, the nomination is put forth by a PR person interested in
furthering the career of a fighter, manager, or trainer, his, or her boss, has a vested
interest in, and sometimes even the boss promoter himself. Only one second is needed
to place this nominee's name on the ballot.

In 1982, it got so darn ridiculous, Murray Goodman, then Dung King's chief flack,
nominated the Dungster himself for the James J. Walker Award for Long and
Meritorious Service in Boxing. At that time, King had been meritoriously serving boxing,
and mostly his own bank accounts, for the sum total of five years. James J. Walker, you
may remember, was the notorious former Mayor of New York City, who resigned his
office in disgrace, after being caught with his felonious hand in the till. So maybe Dung
King winning an award named after a famous crook wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Still, in 1982, Eddie Futch won the James J. Walker Award in a landslide victory of good
versus hairy evil.
After six nominees are selected for each award, the luncheon comes to an end,
and the real drinking begins, at the expense of the NY Boxing Writer's checking
account, of course. Sportswriters in general, and boxing writers in particular, are
notorious freeloaders, and extremely tight tippers to the restaurant staff to boot.

I once raised the ire of an old time scribe at a NY Boxing Writers luncheon, by
having the audacity to tip the bartender/waiter a ten spot, after I had imbibed about half
a dozen Bloody Marys, several beers and a roast beef lunch. Foolishly, I thought it was
the decent thing to do.

"Don't spoil it for the rest of us," I was chided, by this relic with a red nose, who
had obviously had never worked for tips.

So after the luncheon is over, the secretary of the NY Boxing Writers, the truly
lovable Tommy Kenville, for as long as I can remember, puts the nominations into an
envelope and mails them out to all the members, even to the PR flunkies who work for
the greedy promoters. The members then scribble in their votes, and a few weeks later,
the president and vice president of the NY Boxing Writers, along with Kenville as the
scorekeeper, tally up the votes.

Being the vice president from 1982-86, I was present at several of the vote
counting sessions. I once saw the President Barney Nagler take one of the ballots he
emphatically disagreed with, tear it up into little pieces and dump them into the trash. So
much for one person, one vote. (This same dwarfish despot, as I was reading the first
page of my four-page speech to present Tommy Kenville with the Walker Award in 1985,
behind my back, tore up the remaining three pages of my speech, and I was forced with
a red face to stammer, "And without further ado, I present you Tommy Kenville.)

So now you understand how the system works, and why we can never take the
NY Boxing Writer's awards, or their awards dinner seriously until the rules are changed
to allow only real boxing writers to vote for the awards. But since more than half the
present voting group are PR people, that has about as much of a chance of happening
as Don King and Bob Arum going shopping for silverware together.

What an amusing thought. I wonder who would wear the tight skirt?