Federal Regulation of Boxing: Current Law and Proposed Legislation

CRS Report for Congress
Federal Regulation of Boxing:
Current Law and
Proposed Legislation
Updated July 20, 2005
Nathan Brooks
Legislative Attorney
American Law Division

Congressional Research Service ˜ The Library of Congress

Federal Regulation of Boxing: Current Law and
Proposed Legislation
For almost all of the twentieth century, the states exercised complete regulatory
control over the sport of boxing. Beginning in 1960, some members of Congress
began to investigate a possible federal regulatory role. It was not until the passage
of the Professional Boxing Safety Act (PBSA) of 1996, however, that the federal
government carved out a place for itself within boxing’s regulatory framework. Four
years later, Congress passed the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000, which,
together with the PBSA forms the federal regulatory structure of boxing. This
structure contains no national regulatory body, but rather consists mainly of
minimum requirements with which the states must comply. Amidst concerns that the
federally-mandated minimum requirements are being largely ignored, there is
currently a movement to establish a national regulatory body for boxing. In the 109th
Congress, Senator McCain has introduced S. 148, the Professional Boxing
Amendment Act of 2005, which was passed by the Senate on May 9. Representative
King has introduced his own very similar bill (H.R. 468) in the House, as has
Representative Stearns (H.R. 1065). This report summarizes the current federal
regulatory framework and the bills before the 109th Congress.

In troduction ..................................................1
Background ..................................................1
The Evolution of Boxing Regulations..............................3
Early Attempts at Regulation.................................3
The Current Federal Regulatory Framework.....................5
Further Efforts at Reform........................................8
The McCain Bill..........................................9
The King Bill............................................11
The Stearns Bill..........................................12

Federal Regulation of Boxing: Current Law
Proposed Legislation
Despite a history rife with corruption and scandal, professional boxing is1
currently the only major professional sport without a national governing body.
Regulation of the sport has traditionally resided in the states, with the result that rules2
can vary significantly from state to state. The federal government became interested
in creating a more uniform system of boxing regulations in the 1960’s, and has
passed two laws to that end since 1996: the Professional Boxing Safety Act of 1996
(PBSA)3 and the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act of 2000 (the “Ali Act”).4 After
a brief overview of the sport of boxing, this report analyzes the federal regulatory
framework created by these two laws and the bills before the 109th Congress. Before
examining the federal government’s regulatory role, it is first important to understand
how the boxing world operates.
It is the interaction of five distinct groups which determines the shape of
American boxing: the boxers, managers, promoters, state boxing commissions, and5
sanctioning organizations. The manager is generally responsible for handling the
boxer’s business affairs, arranging for training, and negotiating with promoters for
various fights. The manager and the trainer (who prepares the boxer for the fight
itself) generally split a percentage of the boxer’s purse for each fight.6
The dominant figure outside of the ring is the promoter. Even nationally known
fighters need promotion contracts in order to compete in the ring, creating a power
balance that tends to favor the promoter.7 The promoter sets up the bout between the

1 See S.Rept. 108-47, at 1 (2003).
2 Id., at 2.
3 P.L. 104-272 (codified, as amended, at 15 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq.).
4 P.L. 106-210 (codified at 15 U.S.C. § 6301 et seq.).
5 For a discussion of the roles and responsibilities of these groups, see Scott Baglio, Note,
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act: The First Jab at Establishing Credibility in
Professional Boxing, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 2257, 2260-2264 (May 2000).
6 Id.
7 See David Altschuler, Note, On the Ropes: New Regulations and State Cooperation Step
into the Ring to Protect Boxing from Itself, 4 Vand. J. Ent. L. & Prac. 74, 75-76 (Winter

two boxers and assumes the risk associated with the event by guaranteeing each
fighter a certain purse for the match. The promoter does not normally receive a
percentage of either fighter’s purse, but rather is compensated by the difference
between the total revenues generated from the fight and the total expenses incurred
in promoting it.8 One important consequence of the typical fighter-promoter
arrangement is that the promoter’s financial interest can run counter to that of the
fighter, in that the smaller the fighter’s purse, the greater the promoter’s profits.
Given that fighters generally have little bargaining power relative to the promoters,
promoters have in the past been able to coerce fighters into signing contracts that
maximize promoters’ profits, while minimizing those of the boxers.9 As will be
discussed later, this conflict has been a serious area of focus for federal boxing
State boxing commissions are responsible for regulating the matches
themselves, and the commissions promulgate policies to keep track of boxers’
medical records, conduct medical examinations, and select officials and judges for
non-championship bouts.10 Currently, 44 states have boxing commissions or similar
bodies to regulate fights, and their effectiveness varies greatly. Those states that
consistently host well-publicized fights (e.g. Nevada, New York, Florida, California,
and New Jersey) have relatively strong state commissions and strict medical
regulations, as well as comprehensive requirements governing qualifications for
boxing match officials.11 Conversely, other states have comparatively lax regulations
or, in some cases, none at all.12 In the past, the disparity among state regulations -
along with the lack of information-sharing between state commissions - allowed
boxers who were suspended in one state to journey to other states to fight.13 Some
have even charged that the profitability of holding boxing matches has encouraged
state commissions to enter a “race to the regulatory bottom” in order to encourage
promoters to set up fights in their respective states.14 In recent years, the state boxing

7 (...continued)


8 Revenues from each fight generally come from three sources: the ticket gate; domestic and
foreign television rights; and proceeds from advertising rights, fight programs, etc.
9 See, e.g., H.Rept. 106-449, at 8 (2000), reprinted in 2000 U.S.C.C.A.N. 329, 330-331.
10 Scott Baglio, Note, The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act: The First Jab at Establishing
Credibility in Professional Boxing, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 2257, 2262 (May 2000).
11 See Kelley C. Howard, Regulating the Sport of Boxing - Congress Throws the First Punch
with the Professional Boxing Safety Act, 7 Seton Hall J. Sports L. 103, 105 (1997).
12 Id.
13 See S.Rept. 104-159, at 2 (1996).
14 See April R. Anderson, The Punch that Landed: the Professional Boxing Safety Act of

1996, 9 Marq.Sports. L.J. 191, 193 (Fall 1998) (“The income generated by commercial,

subscription, and closed circuit television coverage has minimized the importance of gate
receipts to a financially successful match. Promoters, therefore, my maximize profits and
minimize government intervention by staging fights in states with more relaxed regulations,
even if ticket sales are likely to be lower there. The states which offer the greatest medical

commissions have worked to establish a closer relationship and achieve a degree of
uniformity with the formation of the voluntary Association of Boxing Commissions
(ABC ). 15
The sanctioning organizations rank the top ten-to-twenty contenders in each
weight division, and are only involved with championship and title-elimination
matches.16 These organizations lend an air of importance to fights that they sanction
as “championship bouts.” In addition, even though state boxing rules make no
exceptions for championship bouts, sanctioning organizations are usually allowed to
choose the judges for those fights.17 The three most widely-recognized sanctioning
organizations are the International Boxing Federation (IBF), the World Boxing
Council (WBC), and the World Boxing Association (WBA). While each sanctioning
organization has its own rules, generally a champion is required to face the top
contender at least once every nine months and can only defend the title against the
top fifteen contenders.18 There is a widespread perception that, in the past, the
rankings often reflected the subjective judgments of the sanctioning organizations,
competition among those organizations, and improper relationships between the
sanctioning organizations and the various promoters.19
The Evolution of Boxing Regulations
Early Attempts at Regulation. Although boxing has been around since the
time of the Ancient Greeks, until relatively recently in its history matches were
unregulated and incredibly violent. The first modern rules took root in nineteenth
century England in the form of “Broughton’s Rules” and the “Marquess of20
Queensbury Rules,” both early examples of boxing’s attempt to regulate itself

14 (...continued)
safeguards may well have the fewest boxers to protect. States with little regulation, and
perhaps few fans, will attract an increased share of boxing business.”).
15 In addition, the National Association of Attorneys General formed a Boxing Task Force
and charged it with promulgating uniform boxing regulations for states to adopt. The Task
Force’s report and recommendations can be found at
[http://www.oag.state.ny.us/press/reports/boxing_task_force/table_of_contents.html] (last
visited March 8, 2004).
16 There are currently seventeen weight classes: strawweights (weight limit: 105 lbs.); junior
flyweights (108 lbs.); flyweights (112 lbs.); junior bantamweights (115 lbs.); bantamweights
(118 lbs.); junior featherweights (122 lbs.); featherweights (126 lbs.); junior lightweights
(130 lbs.); lightweights (135 lbs.); junior welterweights (140 lbs.); welterweights (147 lbs.);
junior middleweights (154 lbs.); middleweights (160 lbs.); super middleweights (168 lbs.);
light heavyweights (175 lbs.); cruiserweights (200 lbs.); and heavyweights (unlimited).
17 See Scott Baglio, Note, The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act: The First Jab at
Establishing Credibility in Professional Boxing, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 2257, 2263 (May


18 Id.
19 See S.Rept. 108-47, at 3 (2003).
20 For a discussion of the evolution of boxing rules, see Peter E. Millspaugh, The Federal

without government intervention. Boxing became incredibly popular in the United
States in the early 1900s, and with this newfound popularity came calls for stricter
regulation of the sport.
This groundswell of support for government intervention was largely confined
to the states where boxing was most popular, and consequently, state governments
led the way in drafting boxing regulations. At the forefront was New York, which,
after experimenting briefly with banning the sport altogether, passed in 1920 the
nation’s first comprehensive boxing law - commonly known as the “Walker Law” -
which created a state boxing commission, instituted certain medical safeguards, and
limited fights to fifteen rounds.21 Other states soon followed suit, establishing a
tradition of primary regulation at the state level.
In the 1940’s and 1950’s, boxing’s entanglement with elements of the criminal
underworld became increasingly apparent, prompting Senator Estes Kefauver to
launch four years of hearings in the 1960’s with an eye toward establishing federal
regulations.22 Several pieces of legislation to that end were introduced in the wake
of Kefauver’s hearings, but the movement lost momentum following the Senator’s
death in 1963.23
Legislation to establish federal oversight of boxing was introduced sporadically
over the next three decades, with no success. In the mid-1990’s, however, interest
in federal regulation of the sport grew as criticism of the sport mounted on a variety
of grounds, including the exploitation of boxers, fixing of fights, criminal influence
on the sport, and inadequate state regulation.24 Beginning in 1994, legislation
attempting to address these concerns was introduced unsuccessfully every year until
1996, when Congress passed the PBSA and entered into the realm of professional
boxing oversight. The PBSA focused on the physical well-being of boxers, and four
years after its enactment Congress addressed the economic well-being of boxers with
the Ali Act. These two laws form the current federal regulatory structure, the
primary characteristic of this structure being its almost complete reliance on the
states for implementation and oversight. Rather than create a national regulatory

20 (...continued)
Regulation of Boxing: Will Congress Answer the Bell?, 19 Seton Hall Legis. J. 33, 35-44
21 Id., at 40-41.
22 The federal government’s ability to regulate boxing is grounded in the powers granted to
Congress in the Interstate Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The
Supreme Court recognized the interstate nature of the sport in United States v. International
Boxing Club, 348 U.S. 236 (1955).
23 Id., at 43. One important law outlawing bribery in sporting contests did emerge from the
Kefauver hearings. See P.L. 88-316 (1964), codified as amended at 18 U.S.C. § 224.
24 See April R. Anderson, The Punch that Landed: the Professional Boxing Safety Act of

1996, 9 Marq.Sports. L.J. 191, 199 (Fall 1998).

body, the current framework imposes mandatory minimum standards and
requirements which the state commissions must adopt.25
The Current Federal Regulatory Framework. Under current law, no one
may arrange a professional boxing bout without the approval of the host state’s
boxing commission. If the fight is held in a state without a boxing commission, then
the match must be supervised by another state’s boxing commission and be subject
to the ABC’s regulatory guidelines.26 In addition, every boxing match must provide
a minimum amount of health and safety protections to the fighters. These include a
certification by a certified physician that each fighter is fit to safely compete in the
match; on-site medical personnel with resuscitation equipment; a physician at
ringside; and health insurance for each boxer to cover any injuries during the fight.27
Federal law also regulates boxing matches on Indian reservations. Such matches
must at least conform with the standards and regulations of the boxing commission28
of the state in which the reservation is located or the most recent ABC guidelines.
Each boxing commission must honor the suspension determinations of other
boxing commissions where the suspensions stem from medical concerns, a string of29
losses, drug abuse, fraud, or unsportsmanlike or inappropriate behavior. The boxer
must have the opportunity to review such suspensions,30 however, and each
commission must establish procedures for revoking suspensions where they are no
longer warranted.31
Every boxer is required to register with a state boxing commission,32 which
must then issue the boxer an identification card containing a recent photograph of the

25 In 1994, Sen. Roth originally introduced a bill that would have established a national
regulatory body, but amidst concerns that a federal takeover was unwarranted, Sen. McCain
introduced a compromise bill (eventually enacted as the PBSA) leaving the state-based
framework in place. See Kelley C. Howard, Regulating the Sport of Boxing - Congress
Throws the First Punch with the Professional Boxing Safety Act, 7 Seton Hall J. Sports L.

103, 110-111 (1997).

26 15 U.S.C. § 6303.
27 Id., at § 6304. In addition, each boxing commission must establish mechanisms for
reviewing the physician’s certification and denying permission to box if appropriate. Id.,
at § 6306(a)(1).
28 Id., at § 6312.
29 Id., at § 6306(a)(2). A boxing commission can allow a boxer suspended in another state
to fight if the suspension stems from a different reason than the ones listed above upon
notification to the commission that originally suspended the boxer. In addition, a boxing
commission can allow a boxer suspended in another state to fight, even if the suspension
stems from one of the enumerated reasons, if the ABC gives its approval. Id., at § 6306(b).
30 Id., at § 6306(a)(3).
31 Id., at § 6306(a)(4).
32 Registration must be made with the boxer’s home-state commission or, in the case of a
foreign boxer or a boxer from a state without a commission, then with any state commission.
Id., at § 6305(a).

boxer, a social security number (or similar identification number for foreign boxers),
and the personal identification number assigned to the boxer by a boxing registry.33
The boxer must present the ID card to the local boxing commission before every
match,34 and after the match the local boxing commission must report the results of
the fight to every boxing registry.35 Boxers must renew their ID cards at least once
every two years.36 The boxing commission must also keep track of judges and
referees, and no fight can take place unless the judges and referees are certified and
approved by the appropriate boxing commission.37
The law also attempts to protect boxers from unfair promotional contracts. As
mentioned above, the inequality in bargaining power between boxers and promoters
has in the past resulted in contract terms unfavorable to the boxer. One infamous
provision that became standard in promotion contracts extended the life of the
contract if that boxer were ever to become world champion, constraining the boxer’s
financial freedom during what would likely be the most lucrative period of that
fighter’s career.38 Current law prohibits a “coercive” contract provision that is for
any greater than twelve months. A provision is “coercive” if it grants rights to either
the boxer or the promoter that are contingent upon the boxer agreeing to fight another
boxer under contract to the same promoter.39 This restriction also holds true for
contracts between boxers and commercial broadcasters, which reflects concern that
the line between the promoters and the television networks is becoming increasingly
blurry.40 In addition, no promoter, manager, sanctioning organization, licensee, or
matchmaker may require a boxer to grant future promotional rights as a requirement
for competing in a sanctioning organization’s mandatory bout.41 Promoters are also
required to make certain disclosures regarding contracts, benefits, and payment
arrangements to the local boxing commission, the boxer, and the appropriate State
Attorney General.42
Current federal regulation of the sport also draws lines between the various
figures in boxing in an effort to protect the boxer from collusion. Before the
enactment of the Ali Act, there was great concern that the close relationships

33 Id., at § 6305(b)(1).
34 Id., at § 6305(b)(3).
35 Id., at § 6307.
36 Id., at § 6305(b)(2).
37 Id., at § 6307h. Judges and referees must also submit to the appropriate boxing
commission disclosures related to compensation for each bout. Id., at § 6307f.
38 See Scott Baglio, Note, The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act: The First Jab at
Establishing Credibility in Professional Boxing, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 2257, 2272 (May


39 15 U.S.C. § 6307b(a)(1)(B).
40 See S.Rept. 108-47, at 4 (2003).
41 Id., at § 6307b(b).
42 Id., at § 6307e. Neither the boxing commissions nor the State Attorney General are
allowed to make such disclosures public. Id., at § 6307g.

maintained between managers, promoters, sanctioning organizations, and boxing
commissions created conflicts of interest, with none of the parties looking out for the
good of the fighter. Of particular concern was the increasing control that promoters
exerted over managers. Oftentimes, the promoter handpicked the manager,
sometimes from the promoter’s own family.43 For these reasons, the law prohibits
members of boxing commissions or the ABC from receiving compensation from
anyone with a financial stake in a fight or a boxer registered with a boxing registry.44
The law also prohibits: a promoter from having a financial interest in the
management of a boxer; a manager from taking compensation from a promoter;45 and
a sanctioning organization from receiving compensation - other than that
organization’s published fees for its services - from a boxer, promoter, or manager.46
Each sanctioning organization is required to annually submit to the Federal
Trade Commission (FTC) or post on the internet a description of the organization’s
rankings system and appeals process, a copy of its bylaws, and a list of the
organization’s officials who vote on rankings.47 Sanctioning organizations are also
required to disclose to state boxing commissions the payments and benefits the
organization receives for each fight with which it is affiliated.48 The law requires the
ABC to promulgate guidelines to help the sanctioning organizations and boxing
commissions develop objective criteria for ranking fighters, although the boxing
commissions and sanctioning organizations are under no obligation to follow the
guidelines.49 If an organization makes any change in a top-ten boxer’s ranking, that
organization must post a public notice of the change and an explanation for it.50
Also, a sanctioning organization must provide to any boxer challenging that
organization’s rankings system and to the ABC a written explanation of the rankings
criteria and the organization’s rationale for the ranking assigned to that particular
box er.51
The United States Attorney General is empowered to initiate actions in the
federal courts to enjoin those in violation of the boxing laws from continuing to do
so.52 The law also sets out various fines for violations, and in some cases

43 See Scott Baglio, Note, The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act: The First Jab at
Establishing Credibility in Professional Boxing, 68 Fordham L. Rev. 2257, 2271 (May


44 15 U.S.C. § 6308(a).
45 Id., at § 6308(b)(1). This “firewall” between managers and promoters does not apply to
fights of less than 10 rounds. Id., at § 6308(b)(2).
46 Id., at § 6308(c).
47 Id., at § 6307c(d).
48 Id., at § 6307d.
49 Id., at § 6307c(a).
50 Id., at § 6307c(c).
51 Id., at § 6307c(b).
52 Id., at § 6309(a).

imprisonment not to exceed one year in duration.53 State officials may also institute
proceedings in federal court to enjoin violators or impose penalties,54 and federal law
creates a private right of action for boxers to recover damages as a result of
Further Efforts at Reform
While the PBSA and Ali Act established a framework for the interaction of
federal and state regulation, lingering concerns have been voiced regarding oversight
and enforcement. A report of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation
Committee found that “[B]oth the PBSA (as amended by the Muhammad Ali Act)
and State laws have not been adequately enforced by Federal and State law
enforcement officials. The primary reasons for this lack of enforcement have been
either a lack of resources in federal and state budgets or simply a lack of interest.”56
This concern in part motivated both pieces of boxing legislation introduced in
the 108th Congress: S. 275, introduced by Senator John McCain, and H.R. 1281,
introduced by Representative Peter King. Both bills would have amended current
law and establish a central body to coordinate federal oversight and enforcement with
regard to boxing. This central body would have been charged with promulgating
minimum standards with respect to promotion contracts and ranking guidelines for
the sanctioning organizations. In addition, both bills would have empowered tribal
boxing commissions to issue regulations equal in stature to those of the state boxing
When these two bills were introduced, they were identical. By the time the
McCain bill passed the Senate, however, it had undergone some major changes.
Instead of putting the central governing body in the Department of Labor as in the
original bill, S. 275 as passed in the Senate would have placed this body in the
Department of Commerce.
One of the most controversial aspects of legislative efforts to reform boxing has
been the question of how to bring certain powerful interests surrounding a boxing
match — most notably television networks — under the regulatory umbrella.57 Both
the King and McCain bills, as introduced, would have included television networks
within the PBSA’s definition of “promoter.” This provision was taken out of the
McCain bill before it passed the Senate, and in its stead was inserted language
subjecting broadcasters to certain disclosure requirements.

53 Id., at § 6309(b).
54 Id., at § 6309(c).
55 Id., at § 6309(d).
56 S.Rept. 108-47, at 2 (2003).
57 See S.Rept. 108-47, at 4 (2003) (“Those who testified acknowledged that...[television
companies] may be at times acting as de facto promoters and should be subject to the same
requirements that other promoters must satisfy.”).

The McCain Bill. On January 5, 2005, Senator John McCain introduced S.

148, the Professional Boxing Amendment Act of 2005, which is virtually identicalth

to the Senator’s bill at the end of the 108 Congress. On May 9, S. 148 passed the
Senate by unanimous consent.
The McCain bill would establish the United States Boxing Commission (USBC)58
within the Department of Commerce. The USBC would be charged with
promulgating uniform standards for professional boxing, in consultation with the
ABC. The USBC would consist of three members - at least one of whom must have
formerly served on a State or tribal boxing commission - appointed to three-year
terms by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and removable by
the President only for cause.59 The three USBC members could not all come from6061
the same political party or region of the country. The USBC would employ an
Executive Director to carry out the USBC’s administrative functions and whatever62
other functions delegated to the Executive Director by the USBC.
Under the bill, no boxing match could take place without the approval of the
USBC and the supervision of either the ABC or a boxing commission that is a63
member of the ABC. Every boxer, promoter, or sanctioning organizations
connected with a fight would be required to obtain from the USBC a license64 which
could be revoked for violations of the amended PBSA or a standard promulgated by
the USBC.65 Also, the USBC would be required to establish a national registry of66
boxing personnel and a medical registry to track each boxer’s medical records and
suspension and denial history.67
Under the McCain bill, tribal organizations would be empowered to establish
boxing commissions - equal in status and responsibility to the state boxing
commissions - in order to regulate boxing matches on tribal lands.68 Tribal and state

58 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 202(a) of PBSA).
59 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 202(b) of PBSA). This provision also recommends that one
member of the USBC should, if practicable, be drawn from the health care field. Id.
60 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 202(b)(3) of PBSA).
61 For the purposes of this provision, the bill divides the nation into two regions divided by
the Mississippi River. S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 202(b)(4) of PBSA).
62 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 202(c) of PBSA).
63 S. 148, § 5 (proposed § 4 of USBA). USBA approval would be assumed if, unless the
USBA has been informed of a possible violation, the match is advertised to the public or is
a championship bout, or the fight is scheduled to go at least ten rounds. Id.
64 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 204(a)(1) of PBSA). Licenses would be valid for four years for
boxers and two years for everyone else. S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 204(a)(2)(B) of PBSA).
65 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 207(a) of PBSA).
66 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 205 of the PBSA).
67 S. 148, § 16 (proposed § 14 of the PBSA).
68 S. 148, § 3(b) (proposed § 21 of the PBSA)). An increasing number of boxing matches

boxing commissions would be required to forward to the USBC fight results69 and
copies of the registrations of each boxer, promoter, manager and sanctioning
organization.70 The USBC would also be charged with working with the USAG and
other state officials to ensure that all federal and state boxing laws are enforced.71
S. 148 would add to the current law’s health testing provision a requirement to
test for infectious diseases under procedures established by the USBC.72 The bill
would also include in its definition of “physician” the requirement that such a person
must have experience dealing with sports related injuries, particularly head trauma.73
Also, the bill would create as another exception to the presumption of USBC
approval of a fight situations where the boxer has suffered 10 consecutive defeats or
been knocked out five consecutive times.74 However, if the USBC delegates its
authority over that particular match to the appropriate State boxing commission, then
the exceptions to the presumption of USBC approval would not apply.
The bill would also require the USBC, in consultation with the ABC, to develop
minimum contractual provisions for fight contracts, manager-promoter contracts, and
promotional contracts, and would leave to the boxing commissions the responsibility
to ensure that the mandated provisions are included in the aforementioned contracts.75
Managers and promoters would be required to submit relevant contracts to the
appropriate boxing commission prior to each fight, and also to the USBC for filing.76
As with Senator McCain’s bill that passed the Senate in the 108th Congress, S.
148 does not contain provisions allowing for television networks to be defined as
“promoters” and thereby subject to the bill’s promoter restrictions. In addition, under
S. 148, hotels and casinos could only be considered “promoters” if they are the only
parties responsible for organizing a match.77 The bill would require the USBC to
conduct a study of how the term “promoter” should be defined. Within a year of the
bill’s enactment, the USBC would have to submit a proposed definition and rationale

68 (...continued)
are held at tribal casinos.
69 S. 148, § 9 (proposed § 8 of the PBSA).
70 S. 148, § 7 (proposed § 6 of the PBSA).
71 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 203(b)(5) of PBSA). The USBA would be prohibited from
promoting fights itself or ranking pro boxers. S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 203(c)(1) of PBSA).
72 S. 148, § 6 (proposed § 5 of the PBSA).
73 S. 148, § 3 (proposed § 2(12) of PBSA).
74 S. 148, § 5 (proposed § 4(b)(1)(D) of PBSA).
75 S. 148, § 10 (proposed § 9 of the PBSA).
76 Id. In addition, promoters would be required to post a surety bond before the match to
ensure that the boxer is paid. Id.
77 S. 148, § 2 (proposed § 2(14) of PBSA).

to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee and the House
Energy and Commerce Committee.78
While television broadcasters would not be considered “promoters” under the
McCain bill, broadcasters (and promoters) would be subject to certain disclosure
requirements. Within seven days of a boxing match, the broadcaster with television
rights to that fight would be required to submit to the USBC a statement of any
monies the broadcaster paid to the fight’s promoter, a copy of any contracts between
the broadcaster and the boxer or the boxer’s manager, and a list of the broadcaster’s
sources of income from the match.79
The USBC would be required under S. 148 to develop guidelines for the
sanctioning organizations to use in rating boxers. Further, the sanctioning
organizations would have to make available to the public and to the USBC any
changes in rank for top-ten boxers or challenges to such rankings.80
Whereas current law provides that the appropriate boxing commission must
approve judges and referees, the McCain bill would require the boxing commissions
to affirmatively select the judges and referees for each fight.81 Judges and referees,
who are currently required to disclose all compensation received from a match to the
appropriate boxing commission, would also under the bill be required to disclose that
information (for fights scheduled for ten rounds or more) to the USBC.82 The
McCain bill would also add a provision to the current standard governing conflicts
of interest that would make it illegal for a boxer to own or control the entity
promoting the fight if that entity has a contract with or pays money to the opposing
boxer, or the promoter pays money to the local boxing commission, judges, or
referees associated with the bout.83
The bill would require the USBC to report on its activities once a year to both
the Senate and House Commerce Committees.84 In addition, the USBC would be
required to publish an annual report on its efforts to reform pro boxing.85
The King Bill. On February 1, 2005, Representative King introduced H.R.
468, also titled the Professional Boxing Amendment Act of 2005. The King bill is
virtually identical to the McCain bill, except that the King bill would make two
technical corrections not contained in the McCain bill. Presently, attorneys general

78 S. 148, § 22.
79 S. 148, § 14 (proposed § 13(d)(1) of PBSA).
80 S. 148, § 12 (proposed § 11 of the PBSA).
81 S. 148, § 15 (proposed § 16 of the PBSA). Sanctioning organizations would be allowed
to recommend referees and judges to the boxing commission. Id.
82 Id.
83 S. 148, § 17 (proposed § 17(b) of PBSA).
84 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 210(a)of PBSA).
85 S. 148, § 21 (proposed § 210(b)of PBSA).

and boxing commissions are prohibited from making available to the public any
disclosures made by promoters pursuant to the PBSA.86 The King bill would also
subject the USBC to this same prohibition.87 Further, while the McCain bill would
subject Commission members to the PBSA’s fines for conflicts of interest,88 the King
bill would extend such fines to Commission members and tribal officials.89
The Stearns Bill. Representative Stearns’ bill, H.R. 1065 (“The United States
Boxing Commission Act”), was referred to the House Education and Workforce
Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and was reported out
of the latter on June 29, 2005. The bill is very similar to title II of the McCain bill
(i.e., the title that would establish the USBC). Unlike the McCain bill, the Stearns
bill would not impose new safety or promoter restrictions.90 Significantly, the91
Stearns bill would sunset six years after enactment.
H.R. 1065 would establish the United States Boxing Commission (USBC)
within the Department of Commerce.92 The USBC would be charged with
promulgating uniform standards for professional boxing, in consultation with the
ABC.93 The USBC would consist of three members appointed to three-year terms
by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and removable by the
President only for cause.94 The three USBC members could not all come from the95
same political party or region of the country. The USBC would employ an
Executive Director to carry out the USBC’s administrative functions and whatever96
other functions delegated to the Executive Director by the USBC.
Under the Stearns bill, every boxer, promoter, or sanctioning organizations
connected with a fight would be required to obtain from the USBC a license97 which98

could be revoked for violations of the bill or a standard promulgated by the USBC.
86 15 U.S.C. § 6307g.
87 H.R. 468, § 16.
88 S. 148, § 18 (amending 15 U.S.C. § 6309(b)(3)).
89 H.R 486, § 19.
90 The bill would, however, require the USBC to conduct a study of the health effects of
boxing and the effectiveness of safety standards and regulations. H.R. 1065, § 10.
91 Id. at § 13.
92 Id. at § 2(a).
93 Id. at § 3(b)(1).
94 Id. at § 2(b).
95 For the purposes of this provision, the bill divides the nation into two regions divided by
the Mississippi River. Id.
96 Id. at § 2(c).
97 Id. at § 4.
98 Id. at § 7.

Also, the USBC would be required to establish a national registry of boxing

99 Id. at § 5.