Judge ends court-appointed supervision of IBF

NEWARK, N.J. -- For the first time in nearly five years, the International Boxing Federation is operating without a court-appointed monitor.

U.S. District Judge John W. Bissell on Wednesday ended the supervision he had imposed on the sanctioning organization after federal authorities moved against the group and its founder in 1999, charging that rankings could be bought.

"What we all hope for here ... is an entity that, as it has in recent years, represents the best interests of its members," Bissell said after signing papers ending the monitorship.

The conclusion of the case came quietly, with only three spectators -- all news reporters -- in the courtroom. IBF lawyer Linda P. Torres and Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chagares signed an 11-page agreement and passed it to Bissell for his signature.

That was in contrast to a trial in 2000 that included testimony from some of boxing's biggest names, including promoters Bob Arum and Cedric Kushner, who contended that routine payoffs were the price of doing business with the East Orange, N.J.-based IBF.

The trial ended with founder Robert W. Lee Sr. convicted on counts of tax evasion, money laundering and racketeering but acquitted of the charges at the heart of the case: Taking bribes from promoters and managers to give high rankings to their boxers. Lee agreed to a lifetime ban from boxing and this summer began serving his 22-month sentence, but is appealing the verdicts.

The consent decree signed Wednesday states that the IBF has implemented a "fair and honest ratings system" that includes grievance rights for boxers.

After a four-year undercover FBI probe, prosecutors charged in 1999 that Lee made bribery part of his operation almost as soon as he organized the IBF in 1983 after failing to be elected leader of the World Boxing Association, another major sanctioning body.

A jury deliberated for 15 days before convicting Lee on lesser counts and acquitting his son on all nine counts against him. Jurors said they were uneasy about the prosecution's key witness, C. Douglas Beavers, the longtime chairman of the IBF ratings committee and ousted Virginia boxing commissioner who became an informant with immunity.