Ali for nationwide boxing standards

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Boxing legend Muhammad Ali testified before a congressional committee in support of creating a US Boxing Commission.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Boxing legend Muhammad Ali testified before a congressional committee in support of creating a US Boxing Commission that will enforce boxing standards nationwide, and protect boxers from exploitation and injury. At the hearing only one member, from the various boxing associations, opposed the pending legislation. Legislation authored by Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, would create a three-person commission, appointed by the president, to licence boxers, managers, promoters and sanctioning organisations. Safety standards It would impose uniform health and safety standards, establish a centralised medical registry and provide uniform ranking criteria and contractual guidelines. The bill has passed the Senate but no action on it is expected in the House of Representatives this year. In 1996, Congress established minimum health and safety standards for professional boxing, which were expanded by the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000. But the former heavyweight champion said more work was needed, citing a 2003 Government Accountability Office study, which found that inconsistent regulation by state commissions led to permanent and sometimes fatal injuries, economic exploitation of boxers and corruption. Disturbing indications Ali's wife, Lonnie, read a statement on his behalf, because he suffers from Parkinson's disease. As she spoke, he sat in a seat next to her, trembling, which is one of the symptoms of Parkinson's. "The Ali act amended the 1996 law and addressed contractual issues and required broad financial disclosures to boxers by promoters and rating organisations and outlawed coercive contracts between boxers and promoters. While portions of this measure have been effective, more transparency exits today in boxing than at any other time in history. There are still disturbing indications that federal, state and tribal inforcement of boxing laws has been spotty and in some respects non-existent," said Lonnie Ali. "Reform measures are unlikely to succeed, unless a US Boxing Commission is created with authority to oversee a sport that still attracts a disproportionate number of unsavory elements, that prey upon the hopes and dreams of young athletes. This latest proposal is a culmination of the hard work and determination of Congress, to make a difference once and for all, and to require uniform safety standards, fair rating standards, full financial disclosure, and universal licensing," she added. The sub-committee chairman, Republican Cliff Stearns from Florida, said it was probably too late to win House passage, but that he would try to move it through the committee in 2005. Ali, who did not speak at the hearing, signed autographs for several congressional staffers and even a few lawmakers after his testimony. (AP)

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