NY Post - April 14, 2004
Tomorrow starts what could be boxing's big comeback. What will surely be a long, hard battle, the boxing union Joint Association for Boxers (J.A.B.)
will debut tomorrow at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
J.A.B., headed by former light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad, was formed to protect the fighters from corruption, help increase pay and
set up a pension for retirement.
But, as in all things associated with boxing, money is the real selling point. J.A.B. hopes to position itself as a sort of governing body that
corporate sponsors would trust. With a new face, J.A.B. hopes it can get corporations to pour money into boxing and help rise it to the level of the
four major sports.
"What we're trying to do is establish something that will let fighters at the end of their careers go out with dignity," Muhammad said. "We need to
build it up to what it once was so it can compete with baseball, basketball, football and hockey."
There are still many obstacles to overcome for a boxing union to work. Muhammad said that fighters and managers are overwhelmingly behind the union,
but so far they're the only ones.
"They ask me why it took so long for this to happen," he said.
Promoters aren't nearly as eager to sign up.
So far, only promoter Cedric Kushner is willing to lend his name to a union-supported card. Tomorrow - with Cedric Kushner Promotions backing the
event - will be the first card that is marked by official unionized boxing matches.
The union will take out three percent of the fighters' purses as union dues.
That's no big sum, says Jameel McCline, who will fight Wayne Llewelyan in the co-feature of tomorrow's card. But on big paydays, the three percent
might become an issue.
"Right now, it's not much money," said McCline, who only found out yesterday that the union was taking three percent out of his winnings. "Once I get
back to the million-dollar payday, they can't be getting three percent. We'll have to talk about that."
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