5 Most Manipulative Figures in Boxing

Matthew HemphillCorrespondent IIDecember 29, 2011

5 Most Manipulative Figures in Boxing

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    Boxing has a long history of greed and corruption that marks its past.  In recent decades that has changed, as the power brokers of the sport learned that they could manipulate the fighters and fights in a way that wasn't illegal but put the odds in their favor.

    While upsets do happen, it made the sport harder to enjoy when fans knew that there was a good chance that one fighter had a less-than-favorable chance of winning.

    It has damaged the sport and its credibility, and unfortunately some of those people still exist within the sport today, while some have disappeared into the darker parts of boxing's history.

    Here is a recap of those people.

Bob Arum

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    Arum is the head of Top Rank, which is one of the two biggest boxing promotional companies in the world. 

    He is also the man who coined the phrase "yesterday I was lying, today I am telling the truth."

    He is the also the man who helped sink boxing on the Versus network.

    He also made a fight between Shane Mosley and Manny Pacquiao even though many fans thought that Mosley was past his prime.

    That is only what has happened in the last few years.

    Add in the fact that he admitted during a federal trial that he bribed an IBF official to get a better standing for one of his fighters, and it gets worse.

    Bob Arum has always done what is best for Bob Arum and focused on boxing second, but he has been successful in his endeavors.

Don King

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    Arum may be well known in boxing as manipulative promoter, but Don King is the one that even the casual fans know about.

    Over the years he has been sued by multiple fighters, like Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, Tim Witherspoon and plenty of others.  

    When he was at the height of his power, it was alleged that he used a mixture of threats, blackmail and bribes to keep fighters with him and position certain people to be at the top.

    The most tragic instance of King's abuse was with Witherspoon.  He supposedly was forced to sign horrible contracts not only with King, but with his son Carl King, which left him with little of the money he made in fights.  

    Witherspoon ended up suing King and getting $1 million.

    Still, King proved that he was able to rule boxing for a while with an iron fist.

Panama Lewis

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    Arum and King may have helped to allegedly damage the livelihoods of different boxers, but only one man helped end a boxer's life.

    Panama Lewis is known for two things.

    One of them is the famous incident in the Aaron Pryor bout with Alexis Arguello, where he asked for the black bottle that he mixed.  

    There are fans who believe that without the drink that Lewis gave Pryor, the fight might have ended differently.

    The other thing that Lewis is known for is much darker.  He is known for removing padding from Luis Resto's gloves, and in doing so ending Billy Collins' career.

    It eventually ended with Collins dying a short time later, having not been able to cope with the loss of his career.

    The outcome of the fight lead to Lewis being barred from ever stepping foot into the pro ring, but it didn't bring Collins back to life.


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    After Jack Johnson became the heavyweight champion of the world, he enraged so many white people that black fighters were barred from title opportunities for many years.  

    Fighters like Sam Langford never got an opportunity to show that they were the best in the world even though they proved they were the best in the ring on almost any given night.  

    It is disappointing that certain fighters never got the chance to prove such a thing simply because of racism.

    Even though this article is supposed to focus on individuals who manipulated the sport, this left a huge impact on boxing that can't be ignored.

    Luckily, it is far removed from today, when fighters of all races and faiths are allowed the opportunity to prove that they are the best in the world.

The Mob

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    During what is known as boxing's "golden age," the mob controlled a lot of what happened in the ring and chose who would be champion.

    They decided who they wanted on top of the boxing world and many times would fix fights.  

    The most notable example was Jake La Motta, who lost a fight to Billy Fox.  La Motta would later testify in congress against the Mafia.

    How many boxers were held down because of their pull in boxing and how many got shots and held titles that didn't deserve it isn't really known.  

    It could very well have changed what boxing turned into.