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Bowe-Golota III: lawsuit over Garden riot

January 29, 1997

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Having twice lost to Riddick Bowe on disqualification for low blows, heavyweight Andrew Golota is suing Bowe and Madison Square Garden over the riot following their July bout in New York.

Golota and cornerman Sam Colonna charge they were injured because Bowe was negligent in supervising his employees and because the Garden failed to provide adequate security.

Golota and Colonna are seeking an unspecified amount of money for medical expenses and pain, according to the lawsuit filed in state Superior Court in Jersey City.

They also name as defendants Bowe manager Rock Newman, Spencer Promotions and Spencer employee Jason Harris. Golota, who left Poland in 1990 and fights out of Chicago, listed Jersey City as his residence in the lawsuit.

New Jersey law prohibits plaintiffs from putting damage figures in lawsuits, but a newspaper in Warsaw, Poland, said they seek $5 million.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday, is the latest stemming from the 30-minute chair-swinging riot July 11 in which 14 spectators and eight police officers were injured. Three Brooklyn men who said they were injured filed a $4.5 million suit in July against the arena, Bowe and Newman.

``We had a full complement of security on duty which had handled five previous arena fights without incident,″ said John Cirillo, a Garden senior vice president. ``Our security acted appropriately and if it weren’t for the action of a few individuals who had total disregard for everyone else’s welfare, the incident wouldn’t have happened.″

Newman, reached at his Spencer Promotions office in Washington, derided the lawsuit: ``It’s another dumb, low-blow by Golota, that he will get disqualified for again.″

The Garden brawl began after Golota was disqualified in the seventh round for landing low blows. With Bowe on the canvas, Newman and other members of Bowe’s entourage charged across the ring.

Harris struck Golota several times on the head with a cellular telephone. The wounds required about 13 stitches, said Golota lawyer Thomas DiBiase.

Garden security guards and 250 police officers cleared the arena of 11,000 people.

Over a dozen people were arrested and four members of Bowe’s entourage were charged in connection with the fight. Harris, the only one charged criminally, pleaded guilty to assault last year, DiBiase said Tuesday. No information was immediately available on the other cases.

Spencer Promotions, Bowe’s promoter, was fined $250,000 by the New York State Athletic Commission.

The December rematch in Atlantic City ended in the ninth round when Golota _ who had been pounding Bowe and appeared on the verge of winning _ punched Bowe below the belt, sending him to the canvas.

DiBiase said the Garden not only failed to provide enough security, but did not call police for 18 minutes after the mayhem began.

``It is our contention that if that call was made sooner, the melee, if it could not have been prevented, could have been minimized,″ DiBiase said.

New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani criticized Garden security after the riot, saying guards waited too long to call police.

Golota’s injuries did not keep him from delivering a strong showing in December.

``We’re certainly not saying this is prohibiting him from fighting in the ring,″ DiBiase said.

The lawyer said Colonna sustained internal injuries from kicks and blows, aggravating digestive problems related to colon surgery.

Golota has been spending more time of late with lawyers than sparring partners. Earlier this month in Poland, he received a two-year suspended sentence and $7,000 fine for beating up a man in 1990.

Prosecutors originally charged the boxer with assault and robbery with a deadly weapon. Golota admitted beating up the man but denied pointing a gun at him.

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