The CyberBoxingZone News

Shenanigans and Monkey Shines-- Roseland Fakery Fall-Out
Katherine Dunn

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 public."

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 him.

"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 going on."

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 Executive Director.

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 application.

Ghost Promoter

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 Theater.

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 Thad."

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," says Tapia.

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 payment.

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.


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