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03/18/2009 Entry: "ABC-Legal Committee Minutes from March 4th"
ABC-Legal Committee Minutes from March 4th
Courtesy of Tim Luekenhoff and Jake Hall
suspension even if the violation of the suspension order takes place outside the U.S.
In order to impose additional sanctions for violating the terms of the suspension, the boxing commission must adhere to the notice and hearing requirements of Due Process and other applicable state or tribal laws; i.e., a written notice of the nature of the charges (e.g., “failure to adhere to an Order of the Commission”, or whatever statutory or regulatory provisions of the boxing commission are violated as a result of the boxer participating in a bout during the suspension), and the right to a hearing before the boxing commission (including the right to counsel, ability to call witnesses, etc.)
2. What, if any, entities may advertise on the ABC website; and may the ABC charge the entity a fee for advertising?
There is no express prohibition against the ABC advertising on its website; however, if the ABC were to do so, there are highly relevant factors to which the ABC must strictly adhere.
Federal Law prohibits the ABC from contracting with, or receiving any compensation from, any person who sanctions, arranges, or promotes professional boxing matches, or anyone who otherwise has a financial interest in an active boxer. Accordingly, advertising on the ABC website by any such person strictly is prohibited as constituting a “conflict of interest” under 15 USC §6308(a). Although the ABC By-Laws and Constitution currently do not encompass MMA, amendments to these documents to do so will be proposed at the 2009 ABC Conference in New Orleans. If such amendments are approved by the ABC Membership (and considering that many of the ABC member commissions do regulate MMA), advertising on the ABC website by any person who sanctions, arranges, or promotes MMA matches, or anyone who otherwise has a financial interest in an MMA contestant also would constitute a “conflict of interest” – not as being prohibited by the Federal Law, but under general “conflict of interest” considerations, including an “appearance” of a “conflict of interest.”
Further, any advertisement on the ABC website should not, either expressly or inferentially, constitute an endorsement by the ABC of the product or service being advertised. A strict, and clearly displayed, disclaimer to such effect should accompany any such advertisement.
The ABC Legal Committee suggests that the ABC create a committee of its members to carefully scrutinize any proposed advertisement on the ABC website toward the end of determining the propriety of each advertisement, and to determine the appropriate fees attendant to the advertising.
3. May the ABC, through its ABC Equipment Committee or its MMA Equipment Committee, endorse a particular brand or product?
The mandate of both the ABC Equipment Committee (boxing) and the MMA Equipment Committee is to define standards and specifications for certain types of equipment used in boxing and MMA, respectively. There does not appear to be any prohibition against either of the Committees establishing a list of brands that satisfy the established standards and specifications; however, if such a list is created, the Committees must periodically review each brand so listed to ensure that the standards and specifications of the brand have not changed.
In its December, 2008 Minutes ( 3), the ABC Legal Committee advised against the endorsement of a particular brand or product by the ABC. Here, it is noted that such an endorsement is improper, not only in regard to ethics (see 2, above), but also in regard to potential liability. [Example: ABC endorses a particular brand of mouth guard; a boxer, during a bout, suffers a broken jaw while wearing the ABC-endorsed mouthpiece; the boxer seeks damages against the manufacturer of the mouthpiece and the ABC for having relied upon the ABC’s endorsement.]
4. May the winner of a Toughman contest (who has won a prize as a result) participate as an amateur in a boxing contest?
Although a “Toughman contest” may not constitute a “professional boxing match,” considering the vast differences in the laws and regulations attendant, and not attendant, to each, it is noted that Toughman typically involves two contestants who engage in unarmed combat via strikes with gloved hands to parts of the opponent’s body above the belt, as is the case with boxing. It, therefore, appears that upon the receipt of “prize money” or other compensation for participation in a Toughman contest (as a result of being the ultimate winner), that person would no longer be considered an “amateur boxer.” Indeed, we are advised that USA Boxing – the nationally recognized organization which oversees and regulates amateur boxing in the U.S. – has a rule which expressly prohibits participants in Toughman from competing in amateur boxing.
Following a lengthy discussion regarding the proposed “Pricing, Invoicing, and Payment” provision in the pending MMA, LLC – ABC contract (with MMA, LLC as the ABC’s official “MMA registry”), it was determined that such procedures and logistics should be further discussed, and ultimately resolved, by the MMA Committee. Thereafter, the ABC Legal Committee will draft appropriate language for inclusion in the contract regarding these matters.
NEXT MEETING: WEDNESDAY, APRIL 15, 2009 AT 2:00 P.M. EDT