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Heavy Hitter

Heavy HitterOne of the most powerful people in boxing, Tufts graduate Lou DiBella is trying to clean up the sport.

Boston [07.19.02] Throughout his career, Lou DiBella has been responsible for some of boxing's biggest fights. But few compare to the Tufts graduate's ongoing battle to clean up the boxing industry, which he says is suffering from conflicts of interest, outdated rules and regulations and a history of exploiting fighters.

"I love boxing, but I have a lot of problems with the business of boxing, DiBella told USA Today. "I love fighters. I think they are the noblest of athletes. But they're too often exploited. They often get beaten up in the ring and outside of it."

According to DiBella - who earned his stripes in the boxing industry as senior vice president of HBO Sports, where he developed the highly successful series "Boxing After Dark" - the rules and regulations that govern the sport are old and outdated, leaving many fighters to fend for themselves.

"The overwhelming majority of fighters are fine athletes and decent young men who are, generally, socio-economically deprived and under-educated. They are deserving of our attention and protection," he said in May, while testifying for boxing reforms on Capitol Hill alongside boxing legend Muhammad Ali. "Unfortunately, the prevailing system of state regulation of the sport is woefully inadequate to protect them."

As a result, young fighters are easy targets for promoters and managers who want to turn a quick profit or set up a lopsided fight to help another boxer improve his record.

Fed up with the status quo, DiBella left HBO two years ago to start his own boxing company in New York representing 14 up-and-coming fighters.

"DiBella ... is threatening to shake the boxing business to its rotten core with an innovative form of representation that calls for full financial disclosure and less reliance on promoters and managers," reported the New York Daily News.

His hope, DiBella told the newspaper, is to lead by example.

"I'm not telling people how to run their business," he told the Daily News. "I'm just doing things the way I think they should be done."

Often described as a "boxing czar" and "super matchmaker," DiBella has always done things the way he thought they should be done.

"DiBella, more than anyone else, tried to push HBO to fight the alphabet organizations that are the ruination of boxing, challenging their ratings and attempting (often without much success) to avoid some of the mandatory mismatches so often ordered," reported a Boston Globe article published shortly after he left HBO. "Although every match he sanctioned wasn't a great one, he tried to convince fighters and their handlers to stand up to the tyranny of the World Boxing Organization, World Boxing Council and International Boxing Federation, and at least some of the time they did with his assistance."

Now, with his own stable of fighters - including seven Olympians - the Tufts graduate is trying to prove that there are better ways to run the industry.

"I look at these guys as an opportunity to start from scratch with a group of young men who hopefully won't have to see some of the dark sides of the sport," he said in a USA Today article.

Around the boxing world, many supporters of reform are glad the Tufts graduate is in their corner.

"He's one of the few people in the business with the brains, ethics, and muscle to help change the sport for the better," Nigel Collins - editor and chief of Ring Magazine, told the Philippine Star.

 

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