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Corruption in professional boxing : hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Second Congress, second session (Volume pt. 2) online

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testified at the Subcommittee's August 11, 1992 hearing that during his early profes-
sional boxing career, his father negotiated a 10-year earnings agreement with
Andrew Licari and Andrew Dembrowski whereby Czyz received a $300,000 advance
against a percentage of his future earnings. According to Czyz, this arrangement
gave him the resources to dedicate himself to boxing and gave his investors the
right, for 10 years, to 26 percent of Czyz' boxing earnings.

Czyz testified that, although the terms of his contract with Licari and Dem-
browski had expired, he had voluntarily extended the contract to account for sever-
al years of boxing inactivity on his part. Licari testified at a Subcommittee deposi-
tion that Czyz had voluntarily extended the agreement on two separate occasions. 48
Licari claimed that Czyz had agreed to do this because he and his partner, Dem-
browski, had not gotten their initial investment back. According to Licari, the
agreement is in effect indefinitely until they get their investment back. 49 When
Czyz was asked whether Licari exercised any control over his career, Czyz answered,
"[absolutely zero. He [Licari] has been a good friend and nothing more, as well as a
business associate in that regard."

Czyz denied any knowledge of Licari's or Dembrowski's ties to organized crime.
Czyz was aware, however, of the 1985 New Jersey Commission on Investigation's
Report that alleged that Licari was an associate of the Luchese crime family. More-
over, a sworn statement submitted to the Subcommittee by former acting boss of the
Luchese family, Alfonse D'Arco, states as follows, "I am familiar with Andrew
Licari of Northern New Jersey. Licari is a member of the Luchese family and was
inducted into the family sometime around 1990. Licari was brought in by a relative
of Licari's and Luchese member, Leonard Pizzolatto. Licari is involved in loan
sharking and several other businesses." 50 In his Subcommittee deposition, Licari
acknowledged that, in addition to his original investment in Bobby Czyz's contract,
he made interest-free loans to Czyz. A letter submitted to the Subcommittee by Li-
cari's attorney indicates that Licari and Dembrowski have loaned Czyz $80,000 since
1981 and $50,000 of that amount is still owed. Licari testified at his deposition that
it was not customary for him or his business to loan money to individuals. 51

D'Arco also testified at the 1992 trial of Luchese boss Vittoria Amuso that Licari
was a member of the Accetturo crew of the Luchese family. At his Subcommittee
deposition, Licari acknowledged knowing the individuals alleged to comprise the Ac-
cetturo crew, but denied any personal knowledge of the crew or that the alleged
members of the crew were affiliated in any way with organized crime. 52

Although ownership of a percentage of a boxer's contract, which establishes the
right to some percentage of the boxer's future earnings, is a common practice, such
agreements are rarely public knowledge or recorded with boxing regulators.

In many cases, these practices circumvent the licensing requirements of State
boxing regulators. These licensing regulations require individuals involved in the
business of boxing such as trainers and managers, to be licensed with the State
boxing commission. Licensing, in turn, allows a State to control who is involved in
the sport and to exclude those who, after being licensed, are a detriment to the
sport. A boxing commission has little control or leverage over individuals it does not
license. But licensing is only effective if the licensing entity makes at least a mini-
mal inquiry into the background of the individual being licensed. As illustrated in
the following section on the regulatory structure of boxing, most State regulators do
not make even minimal inquiries.

Inadequate Regulation

Organized crime's presence in the boxing industry and its attendant corrupting
effect has long been suspected. It has been part of the public record since the Ke-
fauver hearings in the early 1960s and most recently with the hearings before this
Subcommittee. The continued presence of organized crime in the boxing industry is
most discouraging because the tools exist to eliminate it. First, law enforcement has
become extremely capable at identifying and combatting organized crime members
and associates. Secondly, the major boxing States have the laws and regulations nec-
essary to exclude organized crime members and associates from the boxing industry.
The regulations, however, are not being enforced.



48 Licari deposition, pp. 33, 39. Exhibit No. 47 is retained in the files of the Subcommittee.

49 Ibid., pp. 38-39.

50 Exhibit No. 31 appears on page 255.

51 Licari deposition at pp. 53-54. Exhibit No. 47 is retained in the files of the Subcommittee.

52 Ibid., pp. 62-87.



104

The clear intent of State licensure rules and regulations is that those who partici-
pate in boxing in any significant way, should be licensed by the regulatory body at
issue. Licensure in boxing, as with any profession or activity, is the most basic way
to police a profession or activity. Licensure is, in addition, the means to exclude
those who would be a detriment to a profession or activity. Indeed, one of the pri-
mary purposes of the Kefauver legislation, introduced over 30 years ago, was to,
"drive the racketeers out of boxing. . . ." 53 To accomplish this purpose, the licens-
ing entity envisioned by the Kefauver legislation would have been given wide lati-
tude to determine who should and should not be licensed to participate in boxing.
The legislation additionally contained a provision making it a crime to operate
"behind the scenes" as a "manager-in-fact" in boxing without a license. 54

States today generally have wide latitude concerning their ability to deny or
revoke a license to participate in boxing. The Nevada State Athletic Commission
has a regulation allowing it to deny or revoke a license if the applicant or licensee:
Has been convicted of a felony; engages in illegal bookmaking; engages in illegal
gambling; or "[i]s a reputed underworld character." 55 In the State of New Jersey,
the State Athletic Control Board has the power to deny or revoke the license of a
boxing manager or promoter if the applicant or licensee is convicted of a "crime of
moral turpitude or any other offense which indicates that licensure would be inimi-
cal to the conduct of the sport of boxing. . . ." 56 In New York State, the State Ath-
letic Commission can deny a license to participate in boxing based solely on the
character and general fitness of an applicant. 57 New York also has a regulation al-
lowing revocation of a boxing license if a licensee is guilty of an act detrimental to
boxing or associates or consorts with persons who have been convicted of a crime or
who are "bookmakers, gamblers or persons of similar pursuits. . . ." 58

When asked at a Subcommittee deposition whether the Nevada Athletic Commis-
sion had ever, under its rule 467.082 denied a license to a "reputed underworld
character," the chairman of the Nevada Athletic Commission Elias Ghanem, re-
plied, "I don't know if any reputed underworld character has ever applied for a li-
cense." 59 Marc Ratner, the Commission's chief inspector, testified at the same depo-
sition that although the Commission application asks if an applicant has been ar-
rested for a felony, the Commission does not do background checks nor does it con-
tact any law enforcement agencies about licensure applicants. When asked why the
Commission did not do background checks, Ratner testified - that the Commission
does not have the staff to do so.

The testimony of New Jersey State Athletic Commissioner Larry Hazzard indi-
cates that New Jersey, like Nevada, does not attempt to enforce its licensure laws
and regulations. At the Subcommittee's August 11, 1992 hearing, Hazzard was ques-
tioned about the licensure of Alfred Certissimo, also known as Al Certo. The 1985
New Jersey Commission of Investigation Report on Organized Crime in Boxing
stated, "Al Certo's admitted close association with organized crime figures dictate
that he be barred from licensure and, in fact, from any professional role in the
sport." 60

Hazzard testified that he was familiar with Certo and with the 1985 Report but
had, nevertheless, repeatedly licensed Certo to participate in New Jersey boxing.
When asked why Certo had repeatedly been licensed in New Jersey in light of the
1985 Report, Hazzard testified, "we do not feel that, based on a report that was sub-
mitted by a State Commission of Investigation [we] should deny Mr. Certo of his
right to participate in the sport of boxing." Hazzard further testified that he did not
conduct background checks of licensure applicants because he did not have the re-
sources to do so. Hazzard did acknowledge that he could have checked with the
Commission of Investigation regarding its findings.

The Kefauver hearings confirmed the long held belief that whatever organized
crime touches it corrupts. Those hearings additionally confirmed that, as with any
industry, once organized crime's corrupting influence takes hold, it is difficult to
shake it off.



53 Subcommittee on Anititrust and Monopoly, Professional Boxing Hearings, 87th Congress,
1st Session, Washington, D.C. May 31, 1961, p. 1252.

54 Ibid.

55 Nevada State Athletic Commission rule 467.082.

56 New Jersey Administrative Code 13:46-6.18 and 18.8.

57 Unconsolidated Laws, Title 25 Sports, Chapter 1— Boxing and Wrestling, § 8912(i).

58 Ibid., at § 8917(b).

59 Ghanem deposition, p. 23. Exhibit No. 11 is retained in the files of the Subcommittee.

60 Organized Crime in Boxing, Final Boxing Report of the State of New Jersey Commission on
Investigation (1985), p. 17.



105

At the Subcommittee's hearing on August 12, 1992, Michael Franzese, former
capo in the Colombo organized crime family, testified as to some of the detrimental
effects of organized crime involvement in professional boxing. According to Fran-
zese, former middleweight champion, Vito Antuofermo, was owned by Andrew
Russo, a capo and former acting boss of the Colombo family. As is the case with
Licari, Weiner, Corozzo and Minuto, however, Russo was not listed as Antuofermo's
manager of record. Franzese testified that it was well known in boxing circles that
Russo controlled Antuofermo. This enabled Franzese and other Colombo family
members to know in advance the likely outcome of many of Antuofermo's fights so
that organized crime could place their bets accordingly, with individuals wagering
as much as $50,000-$100,000 on particular fights. Interestingly, Franzese testified
that, when Antuofermo fought Marvin Hagler for the middleweight title, organized
crime associates were told that the outcome of the fight was not pre-determined and
that they were "on their own" with any bets they made on that fight.

In addition to the inside information gained from owning or being associated with
a boxer, Franzese further testified about how organized crime uses this connection
to manipulate boxers to benefit the interests of organized crime. Often this occurs at
the expense of the best interests of the boxer and professional boxing. Franzese pro-
vided such an example in the case of Davey Moore, a middleweight in whom Fran-
zese testified that he owned an 8 percent interest.

On June 16, 1983, Moore was scheduled to fight Roberto Duran. Moore, however,
was not in the best shape and wanted to postpone the bout. Franzese testified that
he and the other people who owned Moore, knew that their fighter, in that physical
condition, could not beat Duran and that betting against their own boxer would be
almost a sure thing. Thus, they decided to hold the fight as scheduled. Duran won
and so did organized crime, by betting heavily against their own boxer.

Recent press reports have questioned Buddy McGirt's physical condition during
his recent title defense on March 6, 1993. It was well publicized that McGirt was
suffering shoulder problems prior to the March 6th fight, and he underwent major
shoulder surgery after the fight. Certo is alleged in one press report to have dissuad-
ed McGirt from seeing a private physician about his shoulder prior to the fight.
Certo is quoted as saying, "Before the fight I had the injury. I still got the injury
and a million bucks. 61

Conclusion

The Subcommittee's investigation has shown that organized crime is currently in-
volved in the boxing industry. There is no reason to believe that this situation will
change. In fact, there is every reason to believe that organized crime involvement i;i
the boxing industry will increase. The business of boxing is ideally suited for orga-
nized crime for two primary reasons. Boxing involves large sums of money, and it is
ineffectively regulated.

Boxing's current regulatory structure has clearly failed to prevent organized
crime involvement in boxing. Organized crime members and associates are allowed
to manage, advise and invest in professional boxers. These same members and asso-
ciates are either licensed by the State boxing commissions or allowed to avoid State
licensure. The State commissions cite lack of resources as the reason they do not
inquire into the background of their licensure applicants. Lack of resources, howev-
er, does not explain why the New Jersey Athletic Commission continued to license
Al Certo after the New Jersey Commission of Investigations concluded that Certo
had so many organized connections he should not be licensed. Lack of resources also
does not explain why the New York Athletic Commission recently re-licensed pro-
moter Don King after this Subcommittee heard testimony about his extensive orga-
nized crime connections.

One can only conclude, as did Senator Kefauver 32 years ago, that the States are
unable to adequately regulate the business and sport of boxing. In addition, boxing
has made no effort to regulate itself. The alternatives are to either abolish the short
or provide some sort of federal oversight. Abolishing boxing would probably be un-
workable and would be unf air to the thousands of young men that the sport has
benefitted.

With regard to organized crime, one of the strongest endorsements for a federal
role in boxing came from former Colombo capo Michael Franzese who testified that
Federal involvement in the boxing is, "likely to result in less organized crime in-
volvement in the sport." Franzese explained that due to the pressure that the Fed-
eral Government has placed on organized crime, organized crime is becoming in-



6 ' Exhibit No. 43 is retained in the files of the Subcommittee.



106

creasingly more reluctant to get involved in activities monitored by the Federal
Government.

Senator Cohen. The first question I would ask you is, in spite of
the testimony we had last fall that the best way to rid organized
crime of involvement in boxing is to have strong Federal oversight,
we just had someone who is actively involved in organized crime
and the boxing profession, indicated that would make very little
difference as long as the money is there. Do you have any response
to that?

Mr. Lord. Well, Senator, according to what we have heard
during the course of this investigation, I would have to disagree.
The Federal Government did a very good job of capturing Mr. Gra-
vano, and in general the Federal Government has done a good job
prosecuting and investigating organized crime, so I think they
would continue to do so with regard to the boxing industry.

Senator Cohen. OK. Perhaps you could tell us a bit more about
the function of State licensing boards and their relationship to
boxing participants and licensed advisors and unlicensed advisors.

Mr. Lord. As far as unlicensed advisors go, there is no relation-
ship between them and the State regulatory agencies because they
totally circumvent the licensing process. They are not licensed;
they do not put in applications for a license. And as far as we can
tell, the boxing commissions do not go after them, don't try to force
them to be licensed, and don't try to exclude them from boxing if
they are in fact participating in the sport.

Senator Cohen. Well, do they perform any functions that would
otherwise bring them within the scope of State regulation?

Mr. Lord. Yes, Senator, in many cases, they do. I think the ex-
amples on our chart — Lenny Minuto as one — are good ones. If he
in fact receives 10 percent of Iran Barkley's boxing earnings, then
he is a manager under the New Jersey definition of a manager —
anyone who receives 10 percent or more of a boxer's earnings — and
he would therefore have to be licensed as a manager in that State.
Other States have very broad definitions of a manager — anyone
who helps direct the career of the boxer. He certainly, according to
the deposition of Mr. Barkley, is helping to direct his career and
would have to be licensed as a manager in that capacity also.

Senator Cohen. Should we have a uniform definition of what
constitutes an advisor?

Mr. Lord. Yes, Senator, or what constitutes a manager, so it
would encompass all of these unlicensed advisors.

Senator Cohen. Mr. Levin, I think the staff statement indicates
there is evidence that Mr. Lenny Minuto may have received as
much as $225,000 in connection with Mr. Barkley's last fight. Do
you want to explain the evidence and how you arrived at that
figure?

Mr. Levin. Certainly, Senator. The fight we are referring to was
the Iran Barkley-James Toney IBF super middleweight champion-
ship fight. In his deposition, Iran Barkley said that he was going to
pay Mr. Minuto $100,000 from that fight. In addition, Bob Arum,
who was the promoter of that fight, has told us that in order to get
Barkley to agree to that fight, he had to agree to a side deal where
Arum would pay Minuto $125,000, thus bringing Minuto's total
take from that fight to $225,000.



107

Senator Cohen. Is there any evidence that Mr. Barkley himself
knew about this?

Mr. Levin. The deposition of Mr. Barkley was taken prior to the
fight, so talking about the $100,000, he was saying that prospective-
ly, that is what he was going to pay Mr. Minuto. With regard to
the side deal between Mr. Minuto and Mr. Arum, Mr. Arum said
that Mr. Barkley was involved with the negotiations and therefore
presumably was aware of that side deal.

Senator Cohen. OK. Are there any background checks that are
currently undertaken for those who apply for licensing to partici-
pate in boxing?

Mr. Lord. I think I can answer that, Senator. No. If you submit
an application to be licensed, you have to fill out a form. It asks
certain questions, but to our knowledge, no one checks the answers,
no one checks to see if the individual has a criminal record or has
any organized crime involvement. k

Senator Cohen. Who should be in the business of checking back-
ground? Are you suggesting that the commissions do that work?

Mr. Lord. Probably not. I think law enforcement would probably
be best able to do that, much in the way the Senate does back-
ground checks of people who are being appointed to positions. They
could simply call the local law enforcement, or the Federal law en-
forcement, and ask if the individual has a criminal record or
known association with original crime, something like that.

Senator Cohen. And the primary reason that current State-based
regulatory systems are not effective is what?

Mr. Lord. Well, I think one of the primary reasons — a lot of the
States have very good regulations on the books. The problem is
they just don't enforce those regulations. The unlicensed advisor
example is a good one because a lot of States have regulations re-
quiring that these people be licensed. The states just do not enforce
those regulations.

And the second problem is inconsistency, as you just mentioned.
There is a definition for a manager in every different State, so you
may be a manager under one State but not under the next. It is
very confusing.

Senator Cohen. OK. Could you explain in a little more detail
what methodology you used to analyze the financial practices of
Alfred Certissimo, Inc.?

Mr. Lord. We subpoenaed all the records from Alfred Certissimo,
Inc., and that included bank statements, tax records, cancelled
checks, and any other documentation regarding Alfred Certissimo,
Inc. Alfred Certissimo's sole business is boxing, so we asked for all
of their financial records. 1 We then had GAO do a detailed break-
down and analysis of those records. We had those submitted into a
database so that we could then generate reports showing certain
payment practices. And that is how we discovered the practices
that we have testified to today.

Senator Cohen. Would you explain again why you believe that
when two checks were written to the same person on the same day,



1 Exhibit No. 44 is retained in the files of the Subcommittee.



108

at least one of those checks was converted to cash. What evidence
do you have of that?

Mr. Lord. The evidence that we have is that over 10 percent of
all checks written on the Alfred Certissimo, Inc. account are writ-
ten in this method illustrated on the top, the third party endorser
method. Stuart Weiner writes a check to himself for a certain
amount of money. He then signs his name on the back, endorsing
it. Then he puts the third party endorsement of Alfred Certissimo,
Inc., and then he writes, "For deposit only," which would make you
think that he wrote himself a check and then redeposited it into
the same account the check was written on, which would make no
sense as far as we can tell. But anyway, that's what it looks like
happens.

But then what we did was we went through all the bank state-
ments, totalled up the deposits, then went through their tax
records, totalled up their income minus loans, and saw that depos-
its and income balanced. If they were redepositing all these checks,
there would be an imbalance in the income coming into Alfred Cer-
tissimo, Inc.

Senator Cohen. If we could see that next chart, 1 I was going to
ask you about other types of practices involving Alfred Certissimo,
Inc.

Mr. Lord. OK. This is a third practice that occurs occasionally,
and we have deposition testimony from Mr. McGirt 2 that Mr.
Weiner has authority to write his name on the backs of checks, and
it appears that's what happened here. Stuart Weiner wrote a check
to James McGirt — and look very carefully at the signature — for
$2,000, and he appears to have written his name on the back, then
wrote "Stuart Weiner, For Deposit Only." As you can see from the
corresponding bank record, $2,000 was taken out of the account
and was never put back in. So the money was evidently converted
to cash.

Senator Cohen. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Senator Roth. Thank you for your testimony and information
and for doing a good job. We appreciate it.

Our next panel of witnesses includes James "Buddy" McGirt,
former WBC welterweight champion, who is accompanied by his co-
managers, Al Certo and Stuart Weiner. If these gentlemen would
please come forward.

I would ask Messrs. McGirt, Certo and Weiner to stand. Every-
body has to be sworn in before testifying. Would you please raise
your right hand? Do you swear the testimony you will give before
this Subcommittee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing
but the truth, so help you God?

Mr. McGirt. I do.

Mr. Certissimo. I do.

Mr. Weiner. I do.

Senator Roth. Gentlemen, please be seated.

Mr. D'Chiara. Wait a second. We'd just like to arrange our seat-
ing here before you start.



1 Exhibit No. 6 appears on page 166.

2 Exhibit No. 13 is retained in the files of the Subcommittee.



109

Senator Roth. Gentlemen, are any of you accompanied by coun-
sel today?

Mr. Certissimo. Yes.

Mr. D'BliaBlias. Yes, Senator. Let me identify myself. I am Dino
D'BliaBlias, and I am an attorney from the State of New Jersey,
and I represent Mr. Certo and Mr. McGirt.

Mr. D'Chiara. And my name is Michael D'Chiara. I am an attor-
ney from New York, and I also represent Mr. Certo and Mr.
McGirt.

Mr. Schulman. My name is Edwin Schulman. I am an attorney
from New York, and I represent Mr. Weiner.

Senator Roth. Do any of the witnesses have a statement at this
time?

Mr. McGirt?

Mr. D'Chiara. We were told that you required a statement 48
hours in advance, and on that basis, we have decided not to
produce one, although we would like to make a brief statement
now if that is acceptable to the Subcommittee.

Senator Roth. Yes. Let me say the witnesses are entitled to
counsel and the advice of counsel, but the counsel are not the wit-


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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. Senate. Committee on GoveCorruption in professional boxing : hearings before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on Governmental Affairs, United States Senate, One Hundred Second Congress, second session (Volume pt. 2) → online text (page 16 of 28)