March 28, 2000
Shenanigans and Monkey Shines
-- Roseland Fakery Fall-Out
(In which the antics of assorted ghosts, tricksters and other ringside
denizens in Oregon trigger not 1 but 2 (count'em) investigations by the
Oregon State Police)
The Dudley Do-Rights Squint At Their Own
The recent dust-up in which the Executive Director of the Oregon State
Police Boxing & Wrestling Commission was hornswoggled by a falsified drug
report and allowed a boxer to fight on a Feb. 19 show at the Roseland
Theater in Portland after testing positive for drugs, has triggered two
separate investigations by the OSP. The first is a criminal investigation
of the phoney report.
The most recent inquiry is in response to a formal complaint accusing
the Commission of a pattern of slip-shod practices permitted or committed
by the Executive Director, Jim Cassidy, who has held the job since the
spring of 1999, and his OSP liason officer, Captain Robert Miller.
The complaint took the form of a letter to Oregon Governor John
Kitzhaber and Attorney General Hardy Meyers with a copy to Oregon State
Police Superintendant Ronald Ruecker. The complaint was filed by Denis
Ryan of Portland, a successful realtor who is a licensed professional
boxing judge in Oregon and is the former President of the Oregon
Association of U.S. Amateur Boxing.
An early proponent of supporting Cassidy as a new Director learning a
difficult job, Ryan now writes that he has been alarmed by what he calls
"lax or non-existent enforcement of rules and laws critical for the
protection of individual participants and the prevention of fraud upon the
Ryan lists 26 separate instances of violations of state or federal
rules or laws under Cassidy's regime since June of 1999. Ryan's general
description of these violations reads like this:
"The violations include, but are not limited to; Commission failure to
license participants, multiple violations of the Federal Professional
Boxing Safety Act of 1996 by permitting nationally suspended persons to
participate, allowing a bout to take place while a fighter tested positive
for drugs, failure to medically disqualify a fighter who has sustained two
knockouts within 90 days, failure to enforce rules of the bout, failure to
prohibit unlawful conduct by the promoter, permitting fighter contract
violations, publicizing/advertising of events without signed contracts,
and failure to collect the 6 percent tax."
On Thursday, March 23, Sergeant Aaron Olson, acting Public Information
Officer for the Oregon State Police, told CBZ, "OSP did receive a copy of
the letter sent to Governor Kitzhaber and Attorney General Meyers. We take
all criticism seriously and an investigation will be conducted."
Sergeant Olson said he was unable to comment at this time about what
kind of investigation will be conducted in response to the letter, or
which department of the OSP will do the work.
We can't know exactly what the OSP is looking at until the agency
tells us, but we can speculate. Denis Ryan's complaint deals with
violations in six club shows that should certainly be examined. But to
begin, just figuring out all the goofy goings-on surrounding the Feb.19
show would be interesting. The phoney drug report is only one of several
curiousities about that card at the Roseland Theater.
Cheez It! The Cops!
--The Oregon State Police have already launched a criminal investigation
of the cut-and-paste job that created a fake negative drug report for Jr.
welterweight Awel Abdulai after the Las Vegas based fighter tested
positive for marijuana prior to the Feb. 19 show at the Roseland Theater
in Portland. The negative report was accepted by the energetic and
friendly former referee and bartender, Jim Cassidy, who is the
commission's executive director. Cassidy licensed Abdulai and allowed him
to fight Mahon Washington on the card. Abdulai lost a six round decision.
Detectives are reportedly interviewing potential witnesses. Federal law
enforcement officials are also reported to be sniffing at this case
because federal as well as state laws may have been violated.
As reported on March 7 in the CBZ Current Boxing News, the deception
was not discovered by Cassidy until two weeks after the show, when a
journalist notified him that laboratory records proved the negative drug
report had been faked. Cassidy immediately placed several people on the
National Suspension List: fighter Awel Abdulai, fighter Jamal Hodges of
Las Vegas, who was never in Oregon, but whose clean drug test had been
used to fabricate the phoney Abdulai results, Luis Tapia of Las Vegas, who
manages both fighters, and Dan Stenado AKA Stenado Dan Williams, who
functioned as a matchmaker for the Roseland show.
On And Off Again
As of Tuesday, March 14, all those suspended, except for boxer Awel
Abdulai, have been removed from the National Suspension List. Luis Tapia
and Dan Stenado tell CBZ they were never notified in writing of the
Commission's intent to revoke or suspend as required by the Administrative
Procedures Act. Tapia learned about his suspension when pals phoned to
tell him he was listed on the Internet. When this reporter asked about the
notification process, Cassidy indicated that he was not familiar with the
Administrative Procedures Act, which defines and requires due process.
Cassidy says he talked with the suspendees by phone and explained their
rights, and that he then lifted their suspensions until he sees the
results of the State Police criminal investigation.
Fingers Pointed.....Did Not!.....Did Too!
Written and verbal statements from Tapia, Stenado, and other witnesses
identify low level fight booker Howard "Howie" Tanzman of Portland as the
scissor wizard who created the fake report.
Manager Luis Tapia, is a businessman and the owner of the historic
Johnny Tocco's Gym in Las Vegas. In his written statement to Cassidy,
Tapia describes being in the hotel in Portland on the day before the fight
was scheduled at the Roseland Theater. When he got a phone call from
Cassidy informing him that Abdulai had tested positive for drugs and
couldn't fight, Tapia says he told Dan Stenado, who had arranged the
matches for the show. Howard "Howie" Tanzman, a local booker with a shady
reputation, came into the hotel room while they were talking.
Tapia writes that Tanzman "introduced himself as a boxing promoter who
was working in this fight," and asked what the problem was. When told that
the fighter's drug test was positive, "Mr. Tanzman said not to worry, that
he would take care of this problem," Tapia writes, "and he also stated
that 'they always make mistakes with the tests.' He also stated that he
would make a call to [the Las Vegas laboratory] and handle it."
Tapia goes on to describe Tanzman first calling the lab to have
Abdulai's positive test sent to him at the hotel, and then phoning again
to get the negative test of Tapia's other fighter, Jamal Hodges, sent to
"Mr Tanzman then stated that he would call [the laboratory] again and
talk to 'people that he knew' because he 'still believed there might be a
mistake with Abdulai's test.' Tapia says he had never had any trouble
with Abdulai's drug tests before and thought it might actually be a
mistake. He describes Tanzman leaving the hotel room with the two drug
reports and returning about an hour later with a negative test for
Abdulai. When asked how he did that, according to Tapia, Tanzman said
"...he had called his friends at the [laboratory] and that the first test
result was a 'mistake.' "
Other witnesses tell similar tales.
As reported previously in CBZ, the fake was apparently created by
simply cutting the top off the Abdulai test with its name and personal
information, and pasting it over the top of the Hodges negative test.
Close examination later revealed inconsistencies in the report.
In a phone conversation with CBZ, Howie Tanzman flatly denied having
anything to do with creating the fake report and declared himself
"Absolutely shocked!" that anyone would try to pin it on him. Tanzman
declined to offer any alternate version of what happened in the hotel room
or with the documents in question. He suggested that the real culprits may
be "the people on the suspension list," meaning Tapia and Stenado.
Tanzman may be best known to CBZ readers as the booker who took
heavyweight journeyman Marcus Rhode to Japan for a fight in the summer of
1998, and then skinned Rhode out of more than $2400 of his $3,000 purse.
Just flat didn't give it to him.
Tanzman's actual connection to the promotion at the Roseland Theater
remains cloudy. Some of the managers say Tanzman talked to them by phone
during the negotiations for the show, and this is corroborated by Dan
Stenado. The licensed matchmaker, Thad Spencer, says Tanzman had "no job,
no position, and did not help out," although he acknowledges that he and
Tanzman are friends. CBZ saw Tanzman actively involved in shuffling
paperwork at the weigh-in and bustling to and from dressing rooms with
visiting fighters on fight night.
To the Tune of "Blame Canada!"
Booker Howard Tanzman claims he doesn't know how that pesky drug test
got tinkered with, but he thinks he knows where the buck stops. In a
telephone interview, CBZ asked Tanzman who he thought was responsible.
He pinned the blame on the Executive Director of the Oregon State Police
Boxing & Wrestling Commission.
HT--"Jim Cassidy! Absolutely. And I like Jim. But the reason I think it
should be Jim is because the Director of Boxing is ultimately the guy who
handles the show. He OKs the contracts. He OKs the bouts. He makes sure
all the paperwork is in order. They were doing all the damned paperwork at
the weigh-in. You saw how chaotic it was. Why do you have deadlines?
There's rules to follow. There's a rule book........ You [don't] tell one
promoter I need all your paperwork 72 hours in advance, but you work with
another promoter and you say it's OK we're gonna let it slide. The week of
that fight.... that fight was on, that fight was off, I'm talking about
the whole card.... I think up until the day of the fight that goddamned
card wasn't even together. Why do they have deadlines?....... It allows
you time to get to the bottom of situations like this so it doesn't
mushroom if there's bad paperwork. It gives you time to check it out.
If.... people are suspended, it gives you time to check it out. ...But
this whole thing could have been stopped.
"I realize Jim Cassidy likes boxing and he bends over backwards to
make things happen. He wants boxing here. But you still have to have
backbone and stand up and say if a guy comes back and has a bad pee
test....or a bad blood test or whatever the test is.....He's scratched.
That's it. You see if you still have enough rounds left to make the show
go, you try and make it happen. ......maybe in order to make up for rounds
you turn a four rounder into a six rounder, you can turn a six rounder
into an eight rounder, something like that to make up for the rounds cuz
you have to have so many, [a minimum of 26 scheduled rounds is required
for a pro show in Oregon. The Roseland show had a total of 30 scheduled
rounds including the 6 round bout in which the pot-positive Abdulai
fought]. But you don't get a bad test on somebody and then turn around and
all of a sudden you get another test, and it shows it's good....that's a
red flag right there. Listen I've been at fights when the commission gets
a bad pee test and they scratch that bout, that bout is done. So that's
where I think this problem is starting."
Ivan Kafoury, whose company, Spartan Media, was the official promoter of
the Roseland show, defends Cassidy. "Jim's done a hell of a job of
helping us here," says Kafoury. "He enforces the rules and yet is flexible
enough so we can get things done."
But the degree of flexibility shown in the Roseland show worries some
people. The Oregon Boxing & Wrestling Commission consists, officially, of
five volunteer members who are appointed by the Superintendant of State
Police and act as an advisory panel. Although they had not been informed
of the falsified drug report incident by Director Cassidy, at least two of
the Commision members responded with serious concern, last week, to the
CBZ report of the flap.
Adofo Akil of Portland was a top ten middleweight in the 70's and
went the distance with both Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns under his ring
name, Mike Colbert. Now a master electrician and an accountant, Akil
called the drug report incident "dangerous for the fighters and
embarrassing for the Commission."
Joe Pedrojetti of Medford, OR runs Wynan's Furniture business and the
impressive Medford Bulldogs Amateur Boxing Club. Pedrojetti told CBZ he
thought Cassidy's eagerness to help professional boxing shows happen was
"commendable, but shouldn't come at the expense of protecting the
fighters' welfare and the public interest." Pedrojetti said "I'm on the
Commission and I'm responsible. I want to do things the right way. This
incident is obviously disturbing." Saying he is "extremely concerned as a
commissioner," Pedrojetti told CBZ he would be calling the office of the
Superintendent of State Police, Ron Ruecker, "to make sure he knows what's
Superintendent Ruecker is, by law, the final authority of the Oregon
State Police Boxing and Wrestling Commission. Legally it is Ruecker who
issues all licenses and suspensions after recommendations from the
GHOSTS : The Unlicensed Operators
The phoney drug report is just one of several oddities in that
modest little club show in February. Maybe, if the OSP is checking out the
operation of its Boxing and Wrestling Commission, they'll want to take a
look at the intriguing variety of characters associated with the Roseland
show who were operating without the professional licenses required by
Oregon law. Howard Tanzman, of course, is not licensed to perform any
professional boxing duties in the state. Luis Tapia, the manager who
served as Abdulai's second in the corner, was not licensed because, as
Cassidy told CBZ, he just didn't get around to giving Tapia an
More significantly, the actual promoter, the money-slinging,
decision-making promoter, David Leiken, was not licensed to perform those
functions as required by the state law.
The licensed promoter was Ivan Kafoury's company, Spartan Media,
which is a licensed professional wrestling promotion. Kafoury, a long time
radio station owner in the Portland area, started promoting local
wrestling around the Northwest region a few years ago but has had trouble
finding a good venue in Portland.
Kafoury says he was approached by David Leiken, the owner of the
Roseland Theater, with an enticing proposition. If Kafoury would also get
a boxing promoters' license, Leiken would foot the bill and handle all the
arrangements for boxing shows. In return, Kafoury would get a very good
deal on the rent for staging monthly wrestling events at Leiken's Roseland
Kafoury hosted a pre-fight press conference and brought his
radio-honed skills to the task of ring announcing for the debut boxing
show on February 19. Other than that, he was out of the information loop.
Contacted by CBZ just days before the show, Kafoury did not even know who
was on the card.
Leiken is a successful pop music promoter under the company name
Double Tee. Leiken hired his old friend Thad Spencer as matchmaker. Leiken
was known to be the boxing promoter by the various managers and fighters
who got their pay from him, and by Commission Director Cassidy, who told
CBZ he spent many hours in Leiken's office working with Thad Spencer in an
effort to help the fledgling fight promotion get organized. In the
troublesome aftermath, Cassidy told CBZ that if Leiken does any more
shows, "He'll have to get a license."
It's no great wonder if a music promoter and a wrestling promoter
don't know the state law requiring all those financially involved in
boxing promotions to be licensed. It is surprising that Cassidy failed to
inform them of the law and to enforce it.
Cassidy apparently did not inform the licensed promoter, Ivan Kafoury,
of the flap over the phoney drug test. Kafoury said he didn't know about
the affair until the third week of March when he read the March 7 CBZ
story. "If I never do another professional boxing show," says Kafoury,"it
won't break my heart."
Ghost Matchmaker--The Front Man
The licensed matchmaker, Thad Spencer, apparently did not make the
matches. Spencer is a snazzy-dressing former heavyweight contender from
the Ali era of the early 1960's. Spencer commonly informs journalists that
his boxing career ran aground on party rocks of cocaine, and he proudly
insists that he's never had a job outside of boxing. His specialty is
charming other people into putting up money for his red-ink club level
promotions. But he has a history of forgetting to pay the bills. In the
past, both the California and Washington Commissions decided that
licensing Spencer as a promoter was not in the public interest.
Always inventive, Spencer has attempted various unproductive
"benefits" over the years, and dreamed up non-profit organizations,
usually for that reliable wallet tapper, "at risk youth," although we
have yet to locate a single youth who benefitted.
He ventured into Closed Circuit promotions without a license some
years ago when he pasted his own logo onto a Kingvision contract, enlarged
the numbers in the fee slots, and went around Oregon and Washington
fraudulently peddling the CC rights to the Mike Tyson-Peter McNeely show.
He clipped the Wild Horse Casino near Pendleton, OR for a substantial sum
in cash before the former Director of the Oregon Commission caught him and
made him give the money back.
One of his more recent ventures was an attempt to promote an amateur
show, but the amateur coaches in the region decided he was just out to
make money off their kids so they refused to play. For the Roseland show
Spencer was back in business with a new guy to pay the bills and a shiny
new matchmakers license issued by the state of Oregon.
Ghost Matchmaker--Unlicensed and Unpaid
The newspaper ads for the rumble at the Roseland bragged that Thad
Spencer was the Matchmaker. But the actual phoning, faxing, negotiating,
and nagging was apparently done by Dan Stenado, a former boxer, stuntman
and cornerman who lives up the Pacific coast a few hundred miles in the
Tacoma, Washington area. Stenado says he was contacted back in November of
1999 and asked to make matches as an "assistant" or "consultant" for
Spencer. "They called me in when they found out Thad was incompetent,"
Stenado told one reporter.
Though he is licensed as a second in Oregon, and occasionally trains
both pros and amateurs, Stenado's matchmaking experience is far from
extensive. He says he was concerned about his unlicensed status and
discussed it with Director Cassidy. "I didn't want to be in any grey
areas, legally," Stenado says. Cassidy confirms that he knew about
Stenado's activities and says that he was just acting "as an assistant for
Manager Luis Tapia dealt with Stenado. Tapia says Thad Spencer
phoned him after the fake drug test came to light but Tapia refused to
talk to him because he didn't know him.
"I never met him. I never talked to him. I don't know who he is,"
Another manager, Arnold Manning, whose light heavyweight Jeff
Simmons fought at the Roseland, says he dealt with Stenado and would never
have agreed to the fight if he had known Thad Spencer was involved.
Stenado ended up arranging two shows. The first scheduled date for
Roseland was in January but that date was canceled. Stenado notified
everybody of the cancellation and re-signed some fighters but found mostly
new faces for the February date. Stenado says he was worried about getting
his phone bills paid for by the promotion but finally got a check for $200
from Leiken's company, Double Tee Promotions, in early January. He says he
figured that was a first installment on the phone bills he ran up in the
process of making the show.
Though Spencer acknowledges that he "worked with" Stenado, and the
various fight managers confirm that Stenado was the one they dealt with,
both Leiken and Kafoury have refused to pay any of Stenado's phone bills.
Kafoury says the $2,300 in bills that Stenado claims for the two shows is
a ridiculously high amount. Stenado, who had no written contract, is out
in the cold, flapping his phone bills at whoever will listen. Stenado says
he is taking steps to attach Kafoury's performance bond for lack of
The Little Things--Chaos at the Weigh-in
The preparations for the Roseland show were helter-skelter. Director
Cassidy repeatedly waived the paperwork deadline and on Friday morning
actually declared the show cancelled before backing off in the face of the
promoter's protests. The weigh-in that Friday night in the Best Western
Hotel near Portland's Convention Center was a messy business that was
scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. but didn't end until midnight or later. The
doctor, Louis Rios, M.D., who is also the Chairman of the Commission, was
an hour and a half late. Hungry, thirsty fighters waited and grew tired
while their managers and seconds grew cranky. A flurry of late paperwork
rustled at one end of the room. The scale sat precariously on the surface
of a folding table flattened to the floor.
When the weighing actually began, light heavyweight Jeff Simmons
weighed in on the dot and his opponent, Gabriel Cruz, weighed a pound over
the contract limit. Simmons' handler, James Manning, asked Cruz to take it
off. Cruz agreed instantly and headed for the door to go out and run. But
a noisy dispute broke out. Stenado and others claimed it was normal "in
any state in the union to allow a visitng fighter a pound or two extra
because you can't lose weight on a plane." Manning said he just wanted to
stick to the terms of the contract. The Oregon contract specifies that if
the fighter refuses to drop the extra weight and the opponent agrees to
fight him, a percentage of the overweight fighters purse is deducted and
given to the fighter who made the weight. Cassidy interrupted the
bickering by roaring that the fight was off, that the show was cancelled.
Manning backed down. Cruz didn't lose the weight and Simmons didn't get
his cut of Cruz' purse.
Off in one corner the visiting fighters asked this reporter if things
were always this disorganized in Oregon. Embarrassing.
So How Did It Come To This?
The Oregon Commission was created by the State Legislature in 1987 and
the founding Director, Bruce Anderson, had a consistent reputation as a
hard-nosed, by-the-book law enforcer. The Commission set the highest
safety standards in the nation and Anderson's critics accused him of
trying to "kill boxing."
As one of the three authors of the initial legislation to create the
Commission, this reporter prefers the view that boxing in Oregon and a lot
of other states was already half dead in the late 80's. It had been
poisoned by shysters and starved by the lack of legitimate, well-funded
promoters. The last regular Oregon promotion ended in 1984. Sporadic
isolated shows featured mis-matches that burned the cable-savvy audience.
Tough guy shows were the most successful and regular events happening. The
Commission eliminated tough guy shows.
Oregon's tribal casinos --and most pro boxing takes place in Casinos
these days because they are the only businesses that can afford it--were
late in developing and did not become involved in promoting boxing until
1998. Pro wrestling continued, but only about a dozen pro fight cards by
five different promoters took place in the state between 1988 and 1997.
Then in '98, the first tribal casino, Seven Feathers in Canyonville, began
promoting successful shows. Director Anderson licensed two new non-casino
promoters, the nation-wide company America Presents and the local
multi-millionaire Alan James, just before he retired in January 1999.
It's just a guess, but it seems that, despite the successful shows
under strict regulation at the Casinos, OSP somehow swallowed the old
critics line that the strict enforcement of rules and regs prevents
boxing. Whatever the reason, a distinct change in the tenor of the
Commission took place in the spring of 1999 when Cassidy and his OSP
Liason, Capt. Robert Miller, took the wheel. One clue is that Miller
refers to promoters, managers and other ring denizens as the "customers."
And, for this new Director, the customer is almost always right. Instead
of a law enforcement stance, the Cassidy Commission has an economic
development attitude. Cassidy always says his job is "to make boxing
happen." And he's done that.
The five shows promoted so far by Alan James' company, Oregon Trails,
generally were not high quality boxing--with the mismatches, the frequent
forty-plus year-olds, and the famous incident in which three fighters on
the National Suspension List all appeared on a single card, among other
things. But they were "boxing."
Oregon Trails lost money on all but one small club show. In fact a
cooperative extravaganza with America Presents at the Rose Garden
featuring that charismatic fan magnet Jorge Luis Gonzalez lost something
in the region of $100,000. But Alan James doesn't seem to mind, and he has
nothing but praise for Jim Cassidy.
The five member Commission itself appears to be in some disarray. The
last two Commission meetings have failed to draw the necessary quorum of
three members so no official business could be transacted. Instead, jovial
bull sessions were conducted with those members of the public in
attendance. Good customer relations, probably. Indeed, at the last meeting
Commission Chair Dr. Rios came prepared. He conducted a trivia contest
with the audience. For every correct answer he cheerfully tossed out a
lollypop as a prize. Our jolly government at work.
As information becomes available about the results of the two Oregon
State Police investigations, CBZ will report.