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Feds Subpeona Foreman To Testify

April 2, 1999

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Former heavyweight champion George Foreman will likely testify later this month before a federal grand jury investigating boxing’s sanctioning organizations, according to his lawyer.

Foreman has been subpoenaed by the panel looking into corruption charges in boxing, Larry Wechsler said.

``My understanding is that George is just one small piece of this rather broad-ranging investigation,″ the Washington attorney told The Record of Hackensack. ``The government views him as a witness and a victim, and I assume they view other boxers in the same way.″

Wechsler said he didn’t know whether anyone had extorted money from Foreman to set up a fight or improve his ranking.

The 51-year-old former champion, a familiar figure in TV commercials, was initially scheduled to appear before the grand jury on Wednesday, but would likely testify later this month, said Wechsler.

Sources told The Record the grand jury is investigating whether the New Jersey-heaquartered International Boxing Federation sold rankings and arranged fights in return for kickbacks.

The payments, sometimes disguised as consulting fees, were made by fighter managers, to promoters and sanctioning groups, according to unnamed sources cited by The Star-Ledger of Newark, which disclosed the investigation last month.

Federal grand jurors have subpoenaed all IBF records since 1982 on rankings and contracts for fights, as well as checks, invoices, expense forms and telephone records, said IBF attorney Walter Stone.

``They want virtually all written records since the start of the organization,″ Stone said. ``Whatever the IBF has, that’s what the U.S. Attorney’s Office is going to get.″

Federal prosecutors declined comment on the investigation.

The IBF also came under scrutiny last month from law enforcement agencies in New York following the controversial draw in the March 13 heavyweight championship bout between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. Of the three judges, only the IBF-picked judge had Holyfield winning the fight many believed Lewis dominated.

The IBF and two other sanctioning groups _ the WBA and WBC _ by their rules and rankings, play a large role in determining whom a boxer fights. Boxers who defy the groups risk losing the chance to be declared a champion and earn large purses.

``How these different boxers are rated and whether they get to championship fights can be worth millions of dollars,″ Stone said.

IBF president Robert Lee has denied the allegations.

``For 15 years, people have been making allegations against Bob Lee that have proven false and hollow and gone absolutely nowhere,″ said Gerald Krovatin, Lee’s attorney. ``I have no reason to believe that this investigation will be any different.″

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