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Why Must Boxers Buy Their Belts?

By Scoop Malinowski

After Kendall Holt won his WBO Super Lightweight title in 2008 vs. Ricardo Torres in Florida, I did a telephone Biofile interview with the rising star from Paterson, NJ and one of the shocking revelations he told me was that he had to pay the World Boxing Organization about $1100 for the championship belt he earned by winning the fight.

Professional boxing is the only sport where a champion wins a title but has to pay for the trophy.

In golf, tennis, Olympics, auto racing, hockey, the champions do not have to pay for their trophy/award.

Other boxers have told me also they had to pay for their title belts, even  a boxer who won a WBF Inter-Continental Super Middleweight title belt had to pay for it.

Then there are the sanctioning fees boxers have to pay for participating in world title fights.

According to Boxingscene.com, in the rematch between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano for the undisputed WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO junior middleweight championship, Castano entered as the WBO champion and was required to pay a combined 12% of his reported $500,000 purse to the four sanctioning bodies. Charlo received a slight discount as the unified WBA/WBC/IBF champ, “only” paying a combined 11% of his reported $1,000,000 purse.

Is this establishment exploitation of boxers, using the belt as their vehicle to take money out of fighter’s pockets?

Boxers risk their lives to win titles, they dedicate their lives to the sport of prizefighting. Do they really deserve to be nickle and dimed by the establishment?

Andre Ward said this week: “I don’t like them (boxing sanctioning bodies WBC, WBA, WBO, IBF, etc). Maybe I’m ignorant to the finer details. But I really need somebody to help me understand what the sanctioning bodies do. How do they justify a percentage of your gross pay? Three percent to be exact. Multiple belts doesn’t stay at three percent—it goes up to three percent per belt. Some will say, ‘They supervise the fight, they send their officials.’ They have commissions for that. For example, if there is a WBO belt, they’ll have a WBO official sitting ringside with a WBO patch. No disrespect, but we don’t need that. That’s going to cost me three percent, I don’t need that official presiding over it. We have a whole commission for that—it’s their job.”

Now it’s becoming a hot issue in boxing, the injustice and unfairness of boxers having to pay for their earned title belts and also the sanctioning fees which also need to be reconsidered to be eliminated, to help the boxers earn as much as possible. Does boxing really need sanctioning bodies taking money out of fighter’s pockets?

Change is good and it’s time for change.

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