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Get this man out of boxing now

Russo
Charles Russo last appeared on the pages of Boxing News portrayed as a good guy, a man who wanted to help boxers both young and old. But that is not the case. He is a conman who must be stopped, reveals Oliver Fennell

WE’VE all met that guy. The braggart. The self-proclaimed millionaire. The name-dropper. The man making big plans. Usually you know it’s nonsense – but sometimes the bigger the lie, the more believable it seems. I was fed such a story in December, and Boxing News published it. The story of a man on an altruistic mission to protect fighters and save boxing from the crooks who infest it. A man putting on some of the hottest cards the sport has seen. And he’s doing it all for the athletes, not for the money, because he has plenty of the stuff – almost $530 million of it, thanks to owning a real estate company that counts Wal-Mart, Chase Bank and Taco Bell among its tenants.

Charles Russo says this vast personal wealth enabled him to set up the Boxing and Mixed Martial Arts Fighters’ Union (BMMAFU), the only one of its kind in combat sports, boasting more than 25,000 members in nearly 60 countries. BMMAFU promises to legally represent active pros and to cover their health insurance, to take care of struggling ex-fighters by helping them find stable accommodation and second careers, and to expose the dirty deeds of boxing’s bad guys.

And while not a promoter himself, Russo claims to reach into his own deep pockets to help promoters set up events of immense scale and ambition: A tournament spanning five continents with a $150m pot of prize money. An open-air festival of 12 title bouts beginning with a Wu-Tang Clan concert. The world’s first boxing event on a cruise ship.

Why shouldn’t I have believed him? Nobody would make all that up, would they?

I saw him interacting at all hours with legions of recognisable names and companies. I couldn’t fault his work ethic, his contacts or his enthusiasm. He seemed legit. If you think you wouldn’t fall for it, it would be with the benefit of hindsight. And it was with such benefit that people complained to me or to Boxing News about us giving Russo a platform. People who claimed to have also been misled – or worse – by him. A lot of people. People who’d heard bad things about him. A lot of bad things. People with lists of names to follow up on. Long lists. People who provided material that suggested Russo may not even be Russo, but rather the pseudonym of a conman with prior form in other industries.

It was too late. The article had been published. All I could do was investigate the matter, and the man, to see if the accusations were true – and if so, whether I could stop him.

PREYING ON THE FALLEN

My first step is Lisa McClellan, sister of former WBC middleweight champion Gerald McClellan who was catastrophically injured in a 1995 fight with Nigel Benn. I’m told she had a bad experience with Russo, so it is with some trepidation I reach out to her to admit I’ve given publicity to a man accused of taking advantage of one of the sport’s most harrowing episodes.

But she is utterly magnanimous. “Don’t feel bad,” she says. “He has gotten to the best of us. Everything he does is to mess with someone’s life. I will do whatever I can to help you.”

Lisa lives with Gerald in Freeport, Illinois, and is his carer. Sometimes as we talk I hear him in the background. When Lisa talks to him, she has to almost shout. Gerald is blind, nearly deaf, and badly brain damaged. He will need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life. His fate – a result of the most violent boxing match I have seen – damns our sport. The only thing more appalling than what happened to Gerald is the idea someone might try to capitalise on it.

Enter Charles Russo.

Lisa takes up the story: “Charlie called me because he said he wanted to rewrite the Ali Act [a US federal law covering boxers’ rights] and call it the McClellan-Day Act, after Gerald and Patrick Day, who had just died [after an October 2019 boxing match].

“At the time we were staying in a hotel because we were having the bathroom remodelled [to improve accessibility for Gerald] and we had to leave the house. Charlie asked who was paying for the hotel, and I said I am, so he said this is exactly the kind of thing the union can help with. He said he could get back the money already spent and pay for the rest of the stay.

“The next day, I assumed everything had been taken care of, but the duty manager said Russo had called but he’d insulted him and said he wouldn’t use a credit card because the hotel had a reputation for skimming card numbers. This was nonsense. The hotel has a good reputation and I’ve known the manager for 20 years.

“I called Charlie and he said he’d send Western Union instead. Two days later, I still hadn’t received it and he said ‘my attorney [Joseph Grecco] hasn’t gotten around to it yet’. Two weeks later, still nothing, but he said Grecco is going to be in Chicago, so he’s going to meet me and give me cash.

“By now I knew he’s full of s**t. What was suspicious was this Grecco was using TextNow [an internet phone app]. It creates spoof numbers and if you call when they’re not in wifi range, you get an error message. Why would an attorney be using TextNow?

“The day he was supposed to land in Chicago, I called Charlie and said ‘Hey, I’m at the airport but I’ve not heard from Grecco’. I wasn’t really there but I said I’d borrowed money to get to Chicago because I really need this cash. He shouted ‘that’s your fault! Nobody told you to go there!’ It blew up; I told him I knew his union was fake and his attorney didn’t exist and to remove Gerald’s name from anything to do with him. He was just using Gerald’s name for legitimacy.

“I went on Facebook to tell people to beware when dealing with this guy. Within four hours at least 20 people had inboxed me saying ‘oh, he got me too’, or ‘he took money from my business’. People were just coming out of the woodwork.

“By this time he’d blocked me but my cousin had friended him and she sent me screenshots of anything he said about me or Gerald. He said he’d figured me out as a bad person, that I was trying to extort the union, even that I was sexually molesting Gerald. Then he started texting me from spoof numbers, calling me n***** and c***, saying Gerald was a vegetable, making threats that he was in my neighbourhood and was going to pay me a visit. This went on for five months.”

Lisa sends me a folder of screenshots of the interactions she says she had with Russo. She also sends me a “wanted” poster from the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, featuring a woman called Theresa Gersbeck, convicted of identity theft and accused of absconding. Lisa says this is Russo’s wife. Initially I put this aside as I don’t wish to involve someone’s spouse – but remember the name, as it will come into play later…

Finally, Lisa provides a list of contacts to follow up on – boxers, managers, promoters and businesses – all of whom she says have had fallen foul of Russo.

As I work through the list, it grows exponentially. Each name I speak to offers more names. If there were just one or two, I’d ignore it. Even 10 or 20 I might put down to rivalries or misunderstandings. But there are dozens upon dozens of them; to tell all their stories would require a book. Some are famous, others unknown, and they are dotted around the world, but they all have one thing in common – they all talk about Charles Russo, and none of them in a good way. I’ve never known such a tide of ill will against one person.

THE RUSSO-McMAHON CONNECTION

Those alerting people to suspicions about Russo often do so by sharing an article in the Staten Island Advance newspaper. The story covers the 2015 fraud and larceny trial at New York’s Stapleton Criminal Court of a concert promoter called Peter McMahon, accused of swindling dozens of bands.

The suggestion is that McMahon and Russo are the same person, and the Advance story includes a mugshot of McMahon taken in 2010, when he was handed a two-year suspended sentence for felony theft of services. The photo could pass for a 10-years-younger Russo. Then again, it could be a visual coincidence Russo’s opponents have latched on to.

Not so, says Raymond Curt Shampang, bass player in Connecticut-based Simple Machinery, one of the 36 bands that say they were duped into paying deposits to perform at a festival that never happened.

“That’s him, all right,” says Shampang after looking at photos and videos on Russo’s current Facebook pages. “He dresses differently now, but that’s him. Looks the same, same accent, same mannerisms.”

The North-East Music Festival was set for four days on Staten Island and would be, according to its Facebook page, “talked about for decades to come”. An event so big that bands themselves would gladly pay to be a part of it.

“You might say we shouldn’t have paid to play, but it was just $200 and he promised the earth,” says Shampang. “The more you paid, the higher up the bill you got. To young, inexperienced bands like us, $200 sounded like a great deal to gain publicity.”

The court heard that as the festival date neared, its organiser disappeared – along with the deposits. “It’s not so much about the money,” says Shampang, “but messing with young people’s hopes and dreams, that’s awful. I can just imagine him doing the same thing with boxers.”

And how about with models, too? Russo denies he is McMahon, but there is an anecdotal trail linking the two identities.

Hannah Sargeant, a model from Kentucky, posted a warning on Facebook in March 2017 claiming a certain “Charlie Russo” of Charlie’s Angels modelling agency was actually Peter McMahon, calling him a “fraud”, his agency a “scam” and accusing him of “conning people for years”. Eleven months earlier, another model, called Fancy Styx, posted warnings on various scam alert websites about a “con artist” called Peter McMahon, who under the guise of Shooting Star Productions would ask models to send him money to arrange travel to photo shoots which never happened. While the Russo name didn’t come up, Styx uploaded two photographs of the man she was accusing.

Neither Sergeant nor Styx replied to requests for comment, but the photos provide visual cues suggesting a link from McMahon’s 2010 Tennessee conviction and Russo’s current guise.

McMahon to Russo evolution

REACHING ACROSS THE POND

What happened to McMahon/Russo in the modelling industry is unclear, but Charles Russo appears to have surfaced in boxing in early 2019. There is no trace of him prior to this.

In April 2020, BMMAFU partnered with the British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA), an alternative licensing body set up in 2016. Surely understanding the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) would have little to do with him, Russo instead courted BIBA as he sought to reach across the pond.

“Russo had been messaging me aggressively about joining BMMAFU,” says BIBA CEO Gianluca Di Caro. “I’d already been talking about creating a benevolent fund for boxers, so when I saw there’s an existing one [BMMAFU], I said let’s go with that. I checked Russo out and could not find a single negative thing about him. I agreed to come on board.”

Mutual backslapping ensued. DiCaro was named BMMAFU European Promoters President; Russo was granted a BIBA promoter’s licence – despite not being required to prove his identity. “Unfortunately I didn’t find out about the Peter McMahon angle until after I’d left [BMMAFU],” says Di Caro. “We thought he was kosher and doing good things for fighters. He was working with existing promoters and said any money raised would be going to charity. I had no doubts whatsoever. Quite simply, I was stupid.”

The pact was in full swing when BIBA staged its first pandemic-era event, in Aberdeen on July 18. It was behind closed doors but income would be generated by internet pay-per-view and sponsorship – thanks to Russo. “He said he’d agreed $30,000 from Papa John’s Pizza and $25,000 from Neon Energy Drink,” says Di Caro. “The money didn’t arrive before the event, so I had to pay for the broadcast myself. He said it had been paid, but I looked up the MT103 [code for international bank transfers] and it had never existed. I don’t know if he took the money himself or just lied about it all. I asked him about 20 times and he came out with a load of bulls**t.

“He started a campaign against me, telling people I’d threatened his family and made accusations about me taking money from boxers. I wasn’t going to stand for someone lying about me, so I left [BMMAFU].”

But Russo still wanted a UK presence, so he switched his attentions to the BBBofC. Prospects of aligning with them were precisely nil, so he simply lied. He claimed on Facebook he was in “deep conversation with BBBofC… to do real sanctioned events there”, and later: “Just had a discussion with Mr Edwards who is a huge to-do with the BBBofC and literally said to me ‘Charles, you removing yourself from the web of Gianluca… doors will open for you and BMMAFU here with BBBofC…”

On November 10 he went further, uploading a letter with the Board’s logo and claiming: “BMMAFU… will be boxing on cards in UK under the umbrella of BBBofC and will be on BoxRec… can now make it official.” Boxers were invited to participate on a London show for a £2,000 non-refundable deposit. But BBBofC General Secretary Robert Smith didn’t even know who Russo was. “I’ve not had any dealings with this chap,” he says when I alert him to the ploy. “There is no ‘Mr Edwards’ employed by the Board, and nobody by that name speaks on the Board’s behalf.”

Smith checks his inbox while we talk. “Oh yes, I received one email from him in October,” he says. “I ignored it. I’ve never heard of him and have no interest in working with him.”

IT ALL FALLS DOWN

If one thread links everything Russo does, it’s that he never actually does anything. He plays a constant loop of announcing huge plans and piling people on board, before the events fizzle out and people drop off – often acrimoniously – and then it all starts again.

As I embarked on this investigation, Russo’s latest project was “Boxing Street Fair”, a two-night event set for March 12-13, occupying three city blocks of Jensen Beach, Florida.

But the coronavirus cast question marks over it, especially since it relied heavily on foreign boxers at a time of severely restricted travel. Sceptics may wonder if that was precisely why Russo invited them. Sure enough, five weeks prior to its advertised date, Russo cancelled Boxing Street Fair, citing insurmountable complications in bringing in competitors. Alas, I wouldn’t get to see the event fall apart on its own merits – which it appeared to be doing until Covid-19 gave Russo a wriggle-free clause.

First, the ludicrously bold claims. ESPN would be covering it. Fite.tv would handle international PPV, with projections of a million buys. The weekend would open with a Wu-Tang Clan concert. It was, in the alleged words of the WBC, “the hottest card they have seen in the last 20 years”.
The card, though not quite the hottest in two decades, was solid, with competitive matches featuring several recognisable names. Problem was, none – if any – of these matches had been officially agreed.

Several boxers were added to the bill without their consent. Hector Camacho Jnr was one of the first announced, but all Russo had done was send him an unsolicited contract – which was never returned. “Russo bypassed me and sent the contract straight to Hector,” says Camacho’s manager. “Hector showed me and it was like no contract I’d seen before. We both ignored it but Russo announced his fight and put his picture on the poster anyway.”

Camacho rejected the match and was replaced by Canada’s Stuart McLellan – again, before anything was confirmed. “Terms weren’t met on time, so I walked,” says McLellan. “I’ve been around the block and there were many red flags. He talked big then breached contract – straight-up phony.”

Unbeaten prospect Michael Williams Jnr came off the bill almost as soon as he was added to it. He and his father/manager Michael Snr maintain busy social media presences, which guaranteed BMMAFU publicity – as well as instant scrutiny. “As soon as people saw Mike Jnr was on his show, they told us to fall back,” says Williams Snr. “Word gets around in boxing. So we asked [Russo] to meet a request that was simple and easy, and he did not. Simply, we learned it was fake, so we pulled out”.

And one fighter withdrew even with a ‘world title’ supposedly up for grabs. Kallia Kourouni of Greece was down to box Layla McCarter for the WIBF welterweight belt but sensed something was amiss. “I had bad instincts from the beginning,” she says. “I didn’t want to work with him. I did research and found out about that s**t man. He sent a contract, but I didn’t sign. Still he put me on his s**t posters.”

Boxers dropped off and bad feelings festered. Not that any of it mattered to Russo – because it turns out he never actually intended to host the event. The Florida Boxing Commission (FBC) hadn’t even heard of it. “The FBC has no information available on the event in Jensen Beach on March 12-13,” says FBC deputy communications director Patrick Fargason in an email. “No license was applied for.”

FRAUD AT SEA

So, what is Russo playing at? At the very least he is a fantasist; a 52-year-old manchild playing online boxing manager and spitting the dummy when people say bad things. The amount of circumstantial evidence strongly suggests something more nefarious. He has demonstrably lied on numerous occasions, but where is the “smoking gun” linking him to actual fraud?

For this, we cast an eye to sea – Boxing At Sea, Russo’s cruise from Miami to the Bahamas that caught my attention in the first place. The trademark flaws are in place. A huge bill was announced, but several fighters have since pulled out. Several ex-boxers were advertised as making guest appearances – Riddick Bowe, Junior Jones, Ricardo Mayorga, Nate Campbell, Byron Mitchell, Butterbean and Sherman Williams – but not one of them confirms their attendance when asked about it. The advertised date is May 11-18, but Carnival Cruises, whom Russo says is the operator, has cancelled all sailings worldwide until June. The Bahamas Tourism Ministry confirms no cruises are allowed into its territory until further notice. The event cannot happen, yet Russo continues to insist it’s on, and boxers who sign up are offered a handsomely discounted travel package for their supporters – for a deposit, of course.

I receive evidence from three people – and am told of others – who’ve sent thousands of dollars under this premise, and who now stand to lose it all.

One, a boxing manager, tells of how he and his stable coughed up almost $2,400 for this. He prefers to remain anonymous, because “I don’t want him to attack me. I’ve seen the things he’s said about other people and it’s absolutely disgusting. The man has no conscience”.

“[My fighters] were announced as boxing on the cruise, but we knew nothing about it,” he continues. “So I messaged Russo and said I’m their manager and you’ve not spoken to me. He said yeah, we speak to the boxers directly; your board is aware of it.

“I asked him what it costs and he said the boxer gets a purse and one coach can come for free, and supporters get a discount but they have to pay before a certain date. So, we agreed to the fights. I mean, it’s a great idea, isn’t it, boxing on a cruise? And the Bahamas, well, everyone wants to go there.

“Before long, he said we need deposits. I said OK, I’ll get the money together. I thought I would transfer to his company or the cruise line, but he said no, you pay me and I’ll pay on your behalf, and then he asked me to send Western Union to somebody else’s name. I said that’s dodgy, can I not do a bank transfer? He said no, this is the only way and you’ve only got two days.

“OK, I sent it, then [another boxer who had suspicions about Russo] rang me and asked if I’d paid deposits for the cruise. I said I’d paid for my boxers and a couple of other people. He told me to pull out. Then I spoke to another guy and he’d pulled out too. These guys have been in boxing a long time and know what’s what.

“I emailed Russo and said we need to pull out due to personal reasons. He put me in touch with his lawyer, Joseph Grecco, who said you’ll get your deposit back within 30 days. I looked this guy up but could find nothing on him. I asked for correspondence details for the legal company I was dealing with and got nothing. Thirty days passed and I got nothing back. I chased it but eventually he just stopped emailing me. Then Russo started accusing me of stuff and said because I’m involved with [somebody else Russo had a spat with], I’ll get nothing. Then he blocked me, and that was that.”

The manager sends me screenshots of his correspondences with Russo and Grecco regarding payment, cancellation and his unsuccessful appeals for a refund. He also sends the Western Union receipt.

Western Union is often the scammer’s method of choice, as it foregoes the need for a bank account. It does, however, require the recipient to provide ID – which would present a problem for Russo if that was not his real name. Who, then, picked up the money? Theresa Gersbeck.

Every receipt, both from the manager quoted above and the others who showed me theirs, shows Theresa Gersbeck – Russo’s supposed wife, the woman from the wanted poster sent to me by Lisa McClellan at the start of my investigation – has availed herself of the cash.

There it is. Russo, under the guise of a benevolent boxing union, has taken money from boxers for an event that will not happen, with the help of a woman convicted of fraud and who has been on the run ever since.

LITTLE FAKE WORLDS

“It’s f**king social media where literally people create their own little fake world” – so said Russo in an October 2 Facebook rant. It brings to mind Joseph Goebbels’ Nazi propaganda strategy to “accuse the other side of that which you are guilty”.

There is no doubt Russo has created his “own little fake world” while accusing others of doing that very thing. He has said Lisa McClellan wanted his money, and BIBA was screwing over boxers. He has alleged other people were using aliases, called their events fake and predicted they wouldn’t happen (they did). He routinely calls his opponents frauds and criminals.

“He will come after you,” Lisa warns me. “He will try to assassinate your character, and if he can’t find any dirt on you, he’ll make it up”.

She knows this better than anybody, and I’ve seen Russo call other enemies drug dealers, human traffickers, wife-beaters and paedophiles. I wonder what he’ll imagine my motivations are for exposing him. I’m not a “hater”. He hasn’t wronged me personally. I’m not a business rival. I simply want to right the wrong I was responsible for in giving Russo mainstream publicity, and I would not be writing this unless I was convinced of the case against him. I’ve researched the man exhaustively and found not one reason to believe anything he says.

The charade persists. Next up, shows on April 24 in Oklahoma and July 17 in Texas. Russo continues to pretend Boxing At Sea will happen, and will have a sequel in the winter. He’s in discussions with Disney for fight cards in their parks. Discovery is doing a three-part documentary on BMMAFU. He’s going to buy FightFax.

Russo’s “own little fake world” rolls on. Visit it at your peril.

  • To ensure this article remains free of any accusations of personal agenda or gain, and to genuinely help a boxer in need, I have donated my fee to Gerald and Lisa McClellan. Lisa is raising funds for Gerald to have a stem cell transplant, which she hopes will improve his brain function and restore some of his eyesight. If you would also like to make a donation, please visit www.gofund.me/fcfbe498

INSIDE THE UNION

Russo knows the simplest way to earn someone’s support is to tell them what they want to hear and offer them what they want. A push for an unknown fighter. Opportunities for small promoters. Exposure for new companies. And, of course, help for ex-boxers. Russo tries it on with me. After the Boxing News coverage, he fawns over me and offers what he believes I want – a job. I’ll be the editor of a boxing magazine Russo is launching. I’ll get a seat on the union board, and a title: Vice-President, Media. Furthermore, I’ll be flown to and accommodated at all BMMAFU shows.

I refuse, citing a conflict of interest with BN. The truth is by now I’m well aware of Russo’s reputation and have no wish to be tainted by association, plus I understand the whole thing is almost certainly nonsense. But at the same time, a “seat on the board” could be useful to my investigation, so I suggest a compromise – I’ll join BMMAFU, but I won’t take a fee, and Russo must agree not to publicly name me.

This grants me access to the board’s private Facebook chat; an insight into the characters involved, and Russo’s workings in real time. His staunchest acolytes are an American heavyweight whose pro career extends to the 41 seconds it took for him to lose his debut – yet is being lined up for a series of gala fights; a British journeyman who is repeatedly offered title shots that never come to pass; a middle-aged female fighter craving a comeback; a ring announcer yearning to rise above the small halls; and the president of a minor sanctioning body that has never sanctioned a bout.

They are archetypal Russo targets – little-known but dreaming big, and being offered opportunities they won’t get elsewhere. They believe every word. Russo massages their egos and nurtures his cult of personality, reporting on all his hard work and frequently reminding them of his benevolence to boxers. It’s conspicuous, though, that he never names these boxers – bar one.

Former world heavyweight champion Riddick Bowe is Russo’s banner man as a hugely famous name he claims to have helped. Bowe fell on hard times after he retired, and Russo says he’s provided him housing, money and work, refers to him as his “brother”, and has been pictured with him several times.

But inside the board chat, the mood is different. Russo shares screenshots of a text exchange in which Bowe enquires about progress on a house he’s been promised and the financial terms of a contract he’s been offered. Russo says he’s “hurt by this” because “you have no idea what I did for him”. He asks for a vote on withdrawing Bowe from his contract (whatever that entails). The members vote to do just that and generally round on Bowe in their comments.

Jonathan Felton, a former sparring partner of Bowe’s who is in regular contact with him clarifies the position. “Bowe has stated he is not doing anything with Russo,” he says. “He [Russo] just used Bowe and promised him some things that never came true.”

And what happens when an active boxer seeks to join the union, to avail themselves of the benefits enjoyed by 25,512 members? A friend of mine is a struggling pro boxer who could use a little help. Surely a man with the resources, contacts, finances and legal expertise at Russo’s disposal could assist him? This boxer emails Russo, courteously, detailing his problems. He is ignored. Two follow-up emails go unanswered. But this is not because Russo didn’t receive them. No, he received the correspondence – because he screenshots it and shares it with his board, some of whom mock and criticise it.

THINGS THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN

Crown Boxing Association Universal Quest
Russo unveiled a sanctioning body all of his own in October 2019, claiming to have a $150 million pot to fund a tournament to anoint the CBA’s first world champions. He “reached out” to Joseph Parker, Alexander Povetkin, Oleksandr Usyk, Daniel Jacobs, Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia, among others, offering purses of up to $20 million. They didn’t respond. Russo removed all trace of the CBA.

Universal World Boxing Championship
Two months later, Russo outlined a “world tour” type tournament starting in March 2020, taking in 10 countries and three US states. “All these countries and associations have committed,” he said. Not one of these events happened.

American Boxing Association (ABA) tournament
Russo claimed in June 2020 to be organising an elimination tournament to crown the ABA’s inaugural champions. The ABA does exist, but its CEO, Dean Smith, has cut ties with Russo.

Trunks and Treats
Around the same time Dennis Hobson announced a Covid-safe drive-in boxing event, Russo did likewise. The format was the same – fans surround a ring in their cars – but the execution was different in that Hobson’s show, on December 11 in Sheffield, went ahead, and Russo’s, on October 31 in Salem, Virginia, did not.

Conquer the Keys
Set for January 9 in Florida, this promised live boxing and appearances by Riddick Bowe, Mia St John, Junior Jones and Butterbean. It never happened, and the advertised venue, the Coffee Butler Amphitheatre in Key West, claimed to have no knowledge of it.

Miscellany
At various points in Russo’s social media history he has either announced or claimed to be working on cards in Afghanistan, Australia, Bahamas, China, Croatia, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Turkey, the UK and 25 US states. Not one of them happened.

THINGS THAT DON’T EXIST

Boxers and Mixed Martial Arts Fighters’ Union (BMMAFU)
This is not listed on any directory of US nonprofits, nor registered as a company with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and doesn’t offer a physical or postal address.

Bella Coppia Enterprises
For a third-generation real estate giant with properties across the US which accounts for Russo’s $527 million personal fortune, it’s curious that Bella Coppia has no internet presence beyond a dormant Facebook page with 265 followers.

The Harold Russo Recovery Project
Russo told Boxing News that this branch of the BMMAFU – named after his grandfather – was concerned with housing struggling ex-boxers and helping them find second careers, but apart from a solitary Facebook post, there is no evidence whatsoever of its existence.

Joseph Grecco, Esq
Legal queries are referred to someone called Joseph Grecco, Esq – the BMMAFU’s Vice President, Legal. This esteemed attorney uses an AOL email address rather than a company one, a mobile phone number rather than an office one, and cannot be found on any directory of US-registered lawyers.

Total Eruption Boxing Network
The BMMAFU’s very own TV station, broadcasting 24 hours a day, was supposed to launch in November, and then January, and then faded from the agenda as Russo claimed to instead have reached a broadcast deal with Fite TV. (He hadn’t.)

RUSSO’S RESPONSE

ON LISA McCLELLAN: “I’m not going to speak poorly of Lisa, but she knows she lied a lot. It could be that she just wants to take care of her brother and is willing to do whatever it takes. She called me up one morning and said she’s getting thrown out of the hotel. It just didn’t feel right. If she can afford $20,000 for a bathroom, she can afford $72 a night for a hotel room. I said I’d love to help but I didn’t want to give my credit card over the phone. I just wasn’t comfortable doing it. I found out she had done this to other organisations and when I approached her about it, she went on a rampage about me. Those texts are fake.”

ON PETER McMAHON: “My lawyers have told me not to say anything, but ‘no comment’ makes me sound guilty. That story is fake, it’s all bulls**t. As for the picture, come on! Everybody does Face Swap – it’s a frickin’ app!”

ON GIANLUCA DI CARO: “He confirmed the money was in his bank account but he didn’t have the legal documents to withdraw it. Bear in mind this guy goes by five different names. Nobody knows what his real name is.”

ON THE CRUISE DEPOSITS: “The refunds are on hold because the people asking for them are the subject of a criminal investigation.”

ON THERESA GERSBECK: “Is it [the wanted poster] real? I don’t know. It’s ridiculous because I’ve discredited every single thing that’s been said about me and that’s the only way they’re going to get to me, by attacking my wife. But they’re not going to get to me, because she has absolutely nothing to do with boxing. End of story.”

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