Opinion | Sep 01 2018

Senator John McCain and his role in bringing down the Don King empire

Why boxing owes John McCain a debt of gratitude
John McCain
John McCain speaks about moves to ban steroids in baseball.

IT was sad to read of the death of Senator John McCain. He was a genuine war hero and twice a Presidential candidate but, for me, his most relevant influence was through his work to clean up boxing.

His part in the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act, which had a huge impact on the sport in the USA, should not be underestimated.  The stated purpose of the Act was, “protecting boxers from exploitation, sanctioning organisation integrity reforms, and requiring public interest disclosures to state boxing commissions… to remedy many of the anti-competitive, oppressive, and unethical business practices which have cheated professional boxers and denied the public the benefits of a truly honest and legitimate sport.”

The impetus for the whole process that resulted in the Ali Act can be said to have been an IBF title fight back in 1992. The then-IBF middleweight champion James Toney won a split decision over Dave Tiberi in Atlantic City. It was seen by many as a disgraceful robbery. His local Senator instituted an investigation and the testaments given sparked John McCain’s decision to push for changes in how boxing was run in the USA, and particularly the promoter/boxer relationship and the influence of sanctioning bodies.