Mancuso: John McCain Was The Needed Boxing Punch

We mourn the passing of Senator John McCain the American hero and public servant. And with all walks of life he left an impact, and not to be political here he did leave a legacy that will be difficult to duplicate in the annals of American government.

From this perspective there was John McCain who was also a fighter and literally a fighter outside and inside the ring. He was a prime sponsor of the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act that has provided professional fighters financial help, health and safety regulations that changed the scope of an industry that needed reform.

And to many. Boxing still needs reform. Those inconsistent scorecards and decision rendered in the ring that call for justice and the sanctioning organizations that rule the sport, that may never go away. But John McCain was a proud fan of the sport and a supporter of the fighters that were not a part of asking for reform.

Yes, in many ways there is still injustice in the sport and in the ring. Fighters know, as many always say, the outcome is never known unless the knockout becomes the final verdict.  John McCain, often seen at ringside, saw first hand that injustice to fighters was not a fair fight.

So in New York City a few years ago, the Senator from Arizona, did his homework, He visited some of the local boxing gyms and talked to the fighters, managers, and the personnel who make the sport work.

McCain, not a happy camper, after witnessing up close Timothy Bradley getting a gift decision over Manny Pacquiao in 2012, addressed on the Senate floor about how judges in boxing are not competent.

The sport needed reform and judges appointed at ringside was another agenda. However, boxing is politics, and as they say, boxing is politics. Judges are still appointed for major fights by the respective sanctioning organizations, (WBC, WBA, IBF, WBO) the promoters, and today there is no change.

However, and thanks to the Number One proponent for reform, John McCain, there is that open book for fighters and being informed how much the promoter receives and the fighter, and more so with the increasing amount of revenue that is received with televised fights.

In other words, pro fighters are getting the extra dollar that is a part of their contract agreement, in particular with the volume of revenue that is gained from televised fights whether it be HBO, Showtime, Pay-Per-View, or regional telecasts.

New York based Steve Acunto, who passed away a few months ago, worked hand-and-hand with John McCain and lobbied for reform.  Acunto, co-founder of the American Association for The Improvement of Boxing, with Rocky Marciano, the late and undefeated heavyweight champion, traveled to Washington D.C. and met McCain to lobby for the Muhammad Ali Boxing Act.

They, along with yours truly and some other distinguished members of the boxing fraternity, well, we listened . We watched as John McCain, and with other issues on the Congressional agenda, went to work for the sport of boxing.

Impressive it was, as John McCain made every presentation become a reality to every fighter who took a punch and made this sport their way of making a living. McCain was an amateur fighter, so members of the Senate also took in some of the round-by-round realism of what goes on in the ring.

This was special because the sport of boxing was in need of some reform and the feeling was it would come soon. Years later, pro fighters have more security and the sport still seeks more of that reform.   

Prior to the main event on ESPN this past weekend, a Top Rank promoted show in Glendale Arizona, the fans stood as the custom toll of the bell was for John McCain.  It was only appropriate.

“He was the boxing Senator,” Top Rank Promoter Bob Arum said,  And a friend of boxing was Senator John McCain and for the sport their Number One fan.

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About the Author

Rich Mancuso

Rich Mancuso is a regular contributor at NY Sports Day, covering countless New York Mets, Yankees, and MLB teams along with some of the greatest boxing matches over the years. He is an award winning sports journalist and previously worked for The Associated Press, New York Daily News, Gannett, and, in a career that spans almost 40 years.

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