Witness: Payoff Determined IBF Rank
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ After eight years of making payoffs to the IBF to get his South American boxers ranked, a Colombian boxing manager decided to stop.
``My blood was being sucked. I didn’t want to pay anymore,″ Ivan Feris Chadid testified Wednesday in the racketeering trial of IBF founder Robert W. Lee.
The IBF’s written standards for rankings centered on a fighter’s record and his method of winning. But Feris insisted ``the criteria that was always used was the photograph on a $100 bill.″
Feris said he used checks, as well as cash, to advance nine of his fighters, mostly unremarkable Colombians who fought in the lightest weight classes, from 1989-96.
One exception was Mauricio Pastrana, whose rise to two IBF championships was nonetheless greased with payoffs, Feris said.
Many of the checks were made payable to the Portsmouth (Va.) Athletic Club, a boxing gym owned by C. Douglas Beavers, the IBF’s longtime ratings chairman. The sums were generally about $2,000, the evidence showed.
Beavers spent much of April and May testifying against Lee, portraying the IBF ranking system as a cash cow for Lee and himself.
Beavers had served as Virginia’s top boxing official for 19 years until the state removed him after he took the witness stand.
Like Beavers, Feris was granted immunity for his testimony. Both maintained that Don King, boxing’s biggest promoter, had special influence with Lee.
Lee, 66, was indicted in November with three other IBF officials, accused of taking $338,000 in payoffs to rig rankings and provide favors since 1983, when he founded the IBF, based in East Orange.
As one of boxing’s three major sanctioning organizations, its rankings play a big role in determining a boxer’s opponent and purse.
The Feris fighters are among 23 boxers who benefited from payoffs made by seven managers and seven promoters, according to prosecution documents.
None of the boxers, managers or promoters has been charged, although prosecutors describe King as an unindicted co-conspirator. King has denied that.
Lee and his son, Robert Jr., 38, are the only defendants on trial. They face multiyear prison terms if convicted on conspiracy, racketeering, fraud and tax charges.
Former IBF championship committee chairman Bill Brennan, 86, past president of the U.S. Boxing Association, a group that became the IBF, was severed from the trial because of ill health.
The IBF’s South American representative, Francisco ``Pacho″ Fernandez of Colombia, remains at large.
It was Fernandez, said Feris, who told him how to do business with the IBF, and who often served as a courier to deliver payoffs to Lee and Beavers.
Feris, 39, who is living in Miami, acknowledged that his letters to Beavers seeking improved rankings did not mention Lee, but said he and Beavers understood that any moves were already cleared with Lee.
``He’s the chief; he’s the boss,″ Feris said. ``And not one piece of paper moves in the IBF without him knowing.″
Feris also told the jury how he paid $2,000 in 1994 to have Pastrana enter the IBF mini-flyweight rankings and soon become the No. 1 contender, and $2,000 in 1995 to have him get that spot in the junior flyweight division.
The Lee trial is in its seventh week and is expected to last about two more months. In the meantime, a court-appointed monitor is overseeing the IBF, and Lee is barred from participating in IBF affairs.