If you’ve never seen Assault in the Ring, do yourself a favor and watch it and see how reputations, careers, and lives were ruined over a pair of tampered boxing gloves.
(Video courtesy of YouTube)
On the undercard of the June 16, 1983 Roberto Durán-Davey Moore WBA light middleweight championship fight card at Madison Square Gardens undefeated 14-0 welterweight Billy Collins Jr. lost a unanimous decision to heavy underdog Luis Resto (20-8-2). What was most surprising in the bout was how much damage Resto — a known light puncher — inflicted on Collins.
Collins’ injuries from the bout included a torn iris, which caused him permanent vision problems and forced him to retire from boxing at the age of 21.
(Billy Collins’ face after his fight with Resto.)
While shaking hands with Resto in the ring after the bout, Collins’ trainer and father Billy Collins Sr. noticed that Resto’s gloves felt like they had been tampered with and immediately called for the New York State Athletic Commission to seize them for analysis. Collins Sr. accusations were validated when the subsequent NYSAC investigation found that one ounce of padding had been removed through a small hole cut in the palm of the 8 oz gloves Resto wore in the fight.
Eight months after the ill-fated bout, Collins drove his car into a culvert in an apparent suicide.
Resto and his trainer Panama Lewis both received lifetime bans from boxing for their respective roles in the incident. Both men were also tried and found guilty of criminal possession of a deadly weapon (Resto’s fists), assault, and conspiracy to alter the fair outcome of a sporting contest (fight fixing) as prosecutors successfully argued that Lewis modifying Resto’s gloves voided the agreed upon rules of the sanctioned bout and made it an non-consensual assault on Collins.
Resto and Lewis spent 2 1/2 years in jail for their part in the incident. Collins’ widow tried to sue the NYSAC in 2008, but the case was thrown out after a judge ruled that the glove inspection oversight was done in good faith. He felt confident that the inspector in charge of watching Resto would have no way to tell that in the 30-second time period Lewis was alone and unsupervised with his fighter’s gloves that he would be able to make a small cut inside the fist and pull out a substantial wad of horsehair stuffing.
Mixed martial arts had its own version of Resto-Collins in 2011 in Edmonton, Alberta.
On October 6, 2011 UFC and PRIDE veteran Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou was stopped by Edmonton Combative Sports Commission officials as he tried to leave the MFC 31 weigh-ins with his fight gloves for his light heavyweight title bout with then-champion Ryan Jimmo the following night.
Sokoudjou told the commission reps that stopped him that he was given permission by ECSC Executive Director Pat Reid to take his gloves with him as long as he returned with them on fight night.
Reid confirmed to the group of understandably concerned ECSC technical officials that he indeed gave Sokoudjou permission to keep his gloves overnight so the fighter could “stretch them out and work them in a bit” as if he was talking about a baseball glove. He was oblivious as to why it would be an issue.
When the group outlined the safety implications of allowing a combatant unsupervised 24-hour access to his fight gloves and pointed out that allowing it was a breach of both the Unified Rules of Combat and the City of Edmonton’s governing combative sports bylaw, Reid waved off the protests of his veteran officials and allowed his unacceptable decision to stand.
Not only did Reid put Jimmo at a major safety risk, he also put the reputations of all of the officials who questioned his decision, and the ECSC into unwarranted disrepute once again, like he did when he arbitrarily allowed a promoter to use DREAM rules in February 2010 or when he decided his commission would use the 1/2 point scoring system in for the card Jimmo fought Sokoudjou on.
Short of weighing and x-raying the gloves to ensure padding wasn’t removed and that the knuckle foam wasn’t for example soaked in water, frozen, and smashed with a hammer, there was no way for inspectors to tell what had been done to the gloves in the 24-hour time period Reid allowed Sokoudjou to have unsupervised possession of them for.
Photos from the fight clearly show that Sokoudjou’s gloves were dramatically physically modified.
A substantial portion of the gloves’ factory die-cut leather palms were removed by someone, exposing a knife-edge seam and a large area of the Team Quest fighter’s hand wraps.
Here is a side-by-side view of both combatants’ gloves:
(Photos courtesy of TopMMANews.com)
Sokoudjou’s gloves also featured a questionable thumb loop that Jimmo’s gloves didn’t have. The loop appeared to have been made out of black electrical or duct tape.
Jimmo would be well within his rights to request a criminal investigation be undertaken by the Edmonton police services to look into the situation. He could also pursue civil action against Sokoudjou, the City of Edmonton, and the ECSC, and there is a good chance that with the evidence that exists the decision would be in his favor.
There are current ECSC officials who were involved in the incident who can corroborate that Reid and Reid alone made the executive decision to breach both the Unified Rules of Combat and Edmonton City bylaw 14308 by allowing Sokoudjou to take possession of his fight gloves for more than 24 hours prior to a title fight. A title fight whose outcome was heavily wagered on through legitimate book makers, no less, which makes the infraction much more serious.
Section 13:46-24A.8 of the Unified Rules requires that “gloves shall be new for all main events and in good condition or they must be replaced.”
Edmonton bylaw 14308, which was in effect on October 6th, 2011 states:
The event license requires that the Promoter ensures sufficient new, unused, approved gloves in different sizes, are brought to the weigh in for fighters to choose their gloves for use in the event the following night. The Commission will bag the gloves each fighter selects along with the required tape and gauze, will seal and initial the bag along with the fighter, and Commission officials will retain the bagged gloves, bringing them to the competition the next night, for the fighters to wear in the competition.
A group of senior ECSC officials registered a formal complaint with the city against Reid in 2012 for the Sokoudjou incident and several other serious infractions the controversial executive director had committed since being questionably appointed in August 2009.
Like every other complaint about Reid that made its way to the desk of his friend David Aitken, the city’s Community Standards Branch manager to look into, the complaint was explained away with doublespeak.
Aitken’s cock and bull “investigation” into Reid’s involvement in the glove tampering found that:
The operational decisions made were within the purview of the executive director’s bylaw decision-making ability. The desisions [sic] were found to be made in good faith with efforts made to mitigate, remedy or hold parties accountable. The investigation noted disagreement with certain decisions and courses of action. Understandably, the level of subjectivity in sport event management can lead to differing opinions and means to resolve emerging issues. Many of the concerns listed are indeed areas of concern; however, operational decisions were made to best manage the situation at the time.
There are no differing opinions on glove tampering in combat sports. It’s cut and dry. There is no room for interpretation. It’s not allowed or okay at any time or in any situation. For city bureaucrats with zero inclination of just how serious an infraction Reid helped commit to shrug the crime off as being “within the purview of the executive director’s bylaw decision-making ability” is ridiculous.
It’s hard after the fact to prove who modified the gloves and just how much they were altered, but the fact is they were modified.
What can be proven is that Pat Reid not only allowed the tampering to occur, he actually stopped ECSC representatives from preventing it from happening. He ran interference on seasoned officials and stopped them from doing their job, which is first and foremost to protect the safety of fighters.
Reid put a fighter’s safety and life at risk and unfairly tainted the reputation of the ECSC and its officials because of his ignorance and lack of combat sport knowledge and he should be held accountable.
He should also have to answer for the recent revelation he made during a December 2014 inspector’s meeting that sent a shockwave through the Edmonton Room at the Stanley Milner Library.
Reid digressed from his particularly dry PowerPoint presentation to extol on the nuances of the art of matchmaking.
“We allow up to a 70/30 [percentage chance of winning] split. Promoters invest a lot of time and money into marketing their stars, so you need to be aware of who they are trying to give a push to,” Reid told the stunned group of inspectors, judges, and referees. “We won’t go as low as 90/10. That’s what’s known as a tomato can match-up in our business, and we don’t want to be accused of approving those.”
Reid, whose poor matchmaking skills once saw a terribly overmatched fighter sustain a badly broken jaw in under 20 seconds, had no idea that by allowing gross mismatches that benefit promoters best interests he became an accessory to fight fixing.
Or maybe he knew exactly what he was doing.
As Reid wrote in a 2009 email he sent a former commissioner regarding another unrelated issue:
When someone does something illegal, if it is found out, they are guilty. If you are in a position of authority and you find out someone has done something illegal and you do nothing about it, you are considered an accomplice more or less and you too are then considered to be part of the problem, not part of the solution. You too are ‘guilty’.
Reid is not only part of the problem in combat sport regulation in Edmonton, he IS the problem.
The scary thing is in spite of all of his ineptitude and repeated bad behavior, Reid was still able to convince Edmonton, and both the provincial and federal governments that he is the man to oversee combat sport regulation in Alberta, and eventually the country. He isn’t.
Hopefully these bureaucrats will go back and do their due diligence now that the cat is out of the bag about Reid’s absolute incompetence as a combative sports regulator. If they do Reid won’t be able to hide behind the protection of his hand-picked commission or his good friend David Aitken and it will soon be discovered that he’s a fraud and a liability whose only interest in combat sports are his own self interests.