Congress Tries to Knock Boxing Into Shape

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Having spent the better part of the current congressional session throwing knock-down punches at each other over impeachment, guns, Hollywood and the budget, House members on Tuesday turned to the subject of boxing. A House commerce subcommittee heard testimony from boxing promoter Tony Holden in support of legislation pinning down his peers to a set of national standards. The bill, which seeks to even the matchup between wheeling-and-dealing promoters and their often young and inexperienced charges would, among other things, require promoters to reveal more financial information (including their take from boxers’ purses) and impose a one-year limit on boxing contracts.

"Clearly this is a sport with one of the worst reputations around," says TIME sports senior editor Bill Saporito. "Anything that will move reform along is welcome." Unlike other major sports, which have national organizations and a unified set of standards, professional boxing functions in a world of individual contractors overseen by state boxing regulators with very uneven records. "Boxing is a segmented, cottage industry," says Saporito, and that leaves it wide open to abuses. The latest legislation, which is named after boxing great Muhammad Ali, has a very powerful Senate backer, Arizona Republican John McCain. But it faces tough going. Last year, though it passed the Senate, the measure failed because time ran out in the House.