Are Miami's franchise boxers amateur or pro? Answer may knock team out of city
By Zachary S. Fagenson
The World Series of Boxing's request for the state boxing commission to decide whether the Miami Gallos' fighters are amateurs or professionals won't affect the team's remaining matches but might decide whether they put on the gloves for a second season in Miami.
The World Series of Boxing last week filed the petition that the commission is to consider Feb. 21.
The commission denied the team's permit for a Feb. 5 match, citing a handful of shortfalls.
"The event permit application did not include the name of the matchmaker and contact phone number, nor did it contain the name of the weigh-in facility and facility contact phone number," Sandi Copes, spokesperson for the state's Department of Business and Professional Regulation, wrote via e-mail. "Additionally, the event permit application fee did not accompany the application seven days prior to the program of matches."
Mike Sophia, executive director of the Miami-Dade Sports Commission and also general manager of the Gallos, said when he first called to inquire about the rejection he was told it was because the executive director was on vacation.
The denial seemed to be the culmination of a longstanding dispute between the two parties.
"We've had a very contentious relationship, the World Series of Boxing and the Florida State Boxing Commission, from day one," Mr. Sophia said in a previous interview. The "World Series of Boxing rightfully believes that they shouldn't be subject to Florida state boxing rules."
Whether the team will be subject to those rules will be decided next week, when the commission's five members meet to decide the status of the boxers.
"If they were to exempt us, then we fall completely under World Series of Boxing rules, which means [the International Boxing Association] and [the World Series of Boxing]i would assign referees and judges that have been trained for [World Series of Boxing] and that's an international crew of officials and judges," Mr. Sophia said late Tuesday. If not, then "we continue to do what we've been doing for the first three matches [and] we're going to pursue legal and or legislative relief.
"The World Series of Boxing won't stay in Florida if they have to be under the… Florida State Boxing Commission," he added.
The Miami-Dade Sports Commission, a county-formed nonprofit that receives public funding, became manager of the Miami Gallos of the newly formed World Series of Boxing in late 2010. Mr. Sophia essentially took on a second job as the team's manager in its inaugural season so the commission could receive about $365,000 from the boxing league and add several staff members to its roster.
Mr. Sophia said he's been notified that the Gallos' Feb. 27 match against the Mexico City Guerreros at the Solare Coliseum in Doral is approved. He's still awaiting approval of the team's final match and its makeup date for the missed Feb. 5 match.
In Tallahassee, the boxing commission will ultimately decide whether matches are subject to state rules and regulations.
The boxing commission, Mr. Sophia said, classifies the boxers as professionals, subjecting each match to an $1,800 permit fee, making anyone involved with the team responsible for buying a license costing anywhere from $25 to $250, a 5% tax on anything sold in relationship to the team or its matches and payment for boxing commission officials and staff.
The World Series of Boxing, however, was designed so that boxers could earn a small salary while remaining amateurs, thus retaining their Olympic eligibility.
The series is sanctioned by the International Boxing Association, the international body in charge of determining Olympic eligibility. The series is also governed by the USA Olympic Committee, which was formed by the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, and was given sole jurisdiction over what constitutes an amateur athlete.
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