Myopic Commission Sucker-punches Boxing Efforts

SIDELINES

March 29, 1992|By Pat O'Malley

Sitting ringside Thursday night at Michael's 8th Avenue in Glen Burnie watching professional boxing, I thought about some things that promoters Josh Hall and Victoria Savaliski need to ensure success on a regular basis.

The nearly 500 people who showed up Thursday night saw a very exciting five-bout show and went home more than pleased, but the same could not be said for Josh and Vickie. Other than the showitself, theirs was a stressful evening.

Hall and Savaliski, the husband-and-wife team, do an excellent job promoting boxing through their Round One Promotions but showing a profit is as difficult as winning the world heavyweight championship.

The couple needs a break from the Maryland State Athletic Commission regarding enforcement of regulations that cost them the originallyscheduled main event Thursday.

Had it not been for Cecil Sims andhis manager Frank Gilbert of Loch Raven moving into the main event in place of Charlie Tuttle, who was disqualified by the vision rule, the show would have been canceled.

Hall and Savaliski would have had to deal with an a lot of unhappy fans while the commission went home.

What Sims, a former cook at Dino's Restaurant in Glen Burnie, did with Gilbert was admirable. They gambled big time.

"Had Cecil been knocked out, TKO'd or been seriously cut, we would have lost out on a May 1 fight in Germany because he would have been suspended for 60 days after this fight," said Gilbert, whose man fought a gritty eight-rounder, losing as close a unanimous decision as you can get to Fabian Garcia of Rockville.

"It was a gamble, but life is full of gambles."

Also having a local Glen Burnie boxer the fans could calltheir own would enhance the shows.

Popular Chuck Sturm could be that fighter. Sturm packed them in at LaFontaine Bleu when he was on the circuit, but since Hall and Savaliski moved to Michael's last year, the scrappy Sturm has been out of commission.

Sturm hasn't fought since November 1990 because of a series of accidents that resulted in eye and head injuries, but Gilbert, also his trainer, rates a Sturm comeback "at about 60-40."

Round One's Feb. 6 show of more than 700 fans produced a small profit, but on Thursday Hall and Savaliski were back to what they have become accustomed to -- suffering a loss.With bad weather possibly keeping the walk-up boxing only fans away,the crowd was just more than half (just less than 500) of the previous show.

"I'll probably lose about $2,500 on this one," said a dejected Hall looking outside Michael's glass doors at the falling rain."I don't know. Losing the main event didn't help either."

Thereinlies one of the most serious problems -- getting the Maryland State Athletic Commission to cooperate.

The commission too often finds ways to make life difficult for promoters, and Maryland has a reputation as one of strictest states in the country.

Unfortunately, that strictness goes a little too far and gets in the way of using proper discretion. It happened again Thursday night.

Laurel's Charlie Tuttle was scheduled to duke it out in a light heavyweight eight-rounderwith Garcia.

But Thursday afternoon the commission came up with anew one: Guys who wear glasses can't box in Maryland.

Now how many guys do you think that would eliminate if they enforced it on a regular basis?

"They said Charlie couldn't fight, even though he passed the regular eye exam," said a miffed Hall. "The fact that his vision is 20 over 200 kept them from allowing him to fight.

"In all the years I've been in boxing, I've never heard of that one."

The commission would only say that the 20/200 vision rating did not meet their standards. What Hall fears next is that all the fighters will have to have perfect 20/20 vision.

Think about it, boxing fans, how trite is that?

So, what if a guy needs glasses and wants to get into the ring? If he passes the standard eye exam, do you think he wouldbe able to see his opponent just an arm's length away?

How could the guy be in danger because he requires glasses for other things?

"I just called New York and New Jersey today and they said at 20 over 200, Tuttle should have been eligible to fight if he passed his ophthalmology exam, which he did," said Hall on Friday. "He's eligible because of the close range of boxing, but our state has a rule that . . . fighters have to be 20 over 80. I don't know of any other state with such a rule."

What I don't understand is how Tuttle never has run into this before and had just been allowed to fight Feb. 26 at the Washington Convention Center by the D.C. commission. Tuttle also fought recently in Virginia, but can't fight in his own state.

This is the kind of stuff that ruins shows, turns the fans away and causeshonest, ambitious promoters, such as Hall, to throw up

their hands.

Had Simms not been willing to take Tuttle's place in the main event, the evening would have been a disaster for Hall and Savaliski. And judging by the demeanor of the commission members who work the fight, it would have been fine with them.

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