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NYSAC UNDER NEW LEADERSHIP

 

 

New York State Athletic Commission under new leadership as group fights low morale, lawsuit in wake of Magomed Abdusalamov bout

When the position of executive director was formed - the job was created before Abdusalamov’s bout - David Berlin, a Princeton-educated attorney who represented fighters, applied, intrigued by the potential for positive change.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Al Bello/Getty Images

The family of brain-damaged boxer Magomed Abdusalamov (r.) sues the New York State Athletic Commission saying the group ignored the heavyweight boxer's safety during November bout.

The New York State Athletic Commission was a popular target for heavy criticism after Magomed Abdusalamov suffered brain damage at the hands of Mike Perez on Nov. 2 at Madison Square Garden.
The commission, which regulates boxing in the state, was attacked by Abdusalamov’s handlers for ignoring his safety. Abdusalamov’s family filed a lawsuit in March in State Supreme Court against a number of parties, including several doctors on the commission who had observed him that night, alleging negligence and failure to provide proper care. The state inspector general’s office soon initiated an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the bout in early November, an inquiry that continues to this day.
One commission doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity at a fight card in Brooklyn on Nov. 9 admitted morale was at an all-time low because of the suggestions that the commission was at fault for what happened to Abdusalamov.
“Don’t want to be here,” he said, shaking his head and looking miserable.
So why would anyone else want to work for the commission either? Pursuing a job there was like trying to find work at Lehman Brothers after the market crash of 2008.
But not everyone ran the other way.
When the position of executive director was formed - the job was created before Abdusalamov’s bout - David Berlin, a Princeton-educated attorney who represented fighters, applied, intrigued by the potential for positive change.
A lifelong boxing fan, Berlin had ideas for how to improve the sport, from the judging to the officiating to the health and safety of the fighters. After several interviews, he was approved as executive director on March 26 by Gov. Cuomo. Coincidentally, March 26 was the same day Abdusalamov’s family filed the lawsuit.
But despite the storm clouds engulfing the commission, Berlin, 50, struck a hopeful tone in a phone interview with the Daily News on Tuesday and in a follow-up email.

Though he’s not allowed to discuss Abdusalamov’s case because of the commission’s policy of not commenting on ongoing litigation, many of Berlin’s thoughts seemed to be in response to what happened in November.
“It is a new beginning for me personally and also, I believe, a new beginning for the Commission,” Berlin told the News. “That would be true of any agency with new leadership. My first step is to listen and to learn. I am meeting with everyone involved with the commission to get their feedback on ways in which we can improve. I will work to achieve the desired goals of the commission, which are to promote and maintain the health, safety and integrity of its regulated athletic activities.”
Berlin, who gave up his private practice of 15 years to take the job, is tasked with running the day-to-day operations of the commission.
He will report to a board of commissioners consisting of Chairwoman Melvina Lathan, Edwin Torres and John Signorile. Lathan will no longer manage the commission as she has in the past but will now be involved in making policy decisions for the regulatory body, Berlin said.
Lathan was in favor of bringing Berlin aboard and supported the decision to create an executive director.
On the job for less than 20 days, Berlin was brimming with ideas for how to improve the sport when he answered questions last week. One of his first goals is to restore the public’s trust in the commission that took a hit after the fight in November.
“Obviously, it’s a desire of mine that the public does have confidence in the way the New York Commission is run,” he said in a phone interview with a department of state spokesman on the line. “Again, I can assure you there’s going to be transparency in the way we’re going to operate and our job again is to have competent people in place, competent people on the staff on the commission and competent officials making decisions about fights.”
And while Berlin spoke highly of the people at the commission, he also acknowledged the need for improvement, though not a top-to-bottom shakeup, as some have suggested.
Berlin will work with a fulltime staff of four at the commission’s lower Manhattan headquarters. The commission’s administrative and medical staffs are virtually unchanged since the fight in November, with the exception of Berlin and a pair of commission assistants coming aboard.
“I think in boxing and in other areas of life, we learn from experiences,” Berlin said. “We learn from good things that happen. We learn from bad things that happen. I think that as an organization our goal should be to constantly improve. We want to always move forward and always in the right direction in terms of doing what’s proper for boxers.”
Berlin said the confidence level of the rank and file members was not a problem despite what a commission doctor said back in November.
“Morale is fine and it has been fine,” Berlin said. “We have a number of very competent people in place, among the staff and we’re working cooperatively to make sure we have the right elements in place.”
 
Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez pose with the WBC belt during a press conference in Chase Square at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2014 in New York City. 
Elsa/Getty Images  Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez pose with the WBC belt during a press conference in Chase Square at Madison Square Garden on March 11, 2014 in New York City. 
 
Since taking over on May 1, Berlin has toiled in near anonymity, running three smaller shows. But that will change on June 7 when Miguel Cotto faces Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden in one of the biggest fights of the year. The eyes of the sport will again be on New York, and by extension, Berlin. It’s only the second fight at the Garden since Abdusalamov fought in November but it’s by far the biggest fight since then.
“Certainly I’m looking forward to Cotto-Martinez and it’s a huge fight for New York,” Berlin said. “It’s going to be at our biggest venue -- MSG, which is the Mecca of boxing and I’m looking forward to it.”
Berlin was asked if any of his ideas for the new job were informed by what happened in November but he declined to answer, citing the ongoing litigation. The state inspector general’s office offered a “No-comment” as to when its investigation will end and a report will be issued. Abdusalamov has made progress in his rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, NY, where he currently resides, according to his former promoter, Nathan Lewkowicz, who said he can now move his arms and say people’s names and eat soft foods but is still a long ways from regaining full use of his body. The boxer’s attorney, Paul Edelstein, reported no updates on the lawsuit and is looking forward to reading the inspector general’s report before he starts preparing for trial. A spokesman for the New York Athletic Commission said it will wait to make any public remarks until after the state inspector general’s office releases its report.

Sourcewww.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/new-state-boxing-boss-fight-morale-commission-article-1.1808055

 

 

 

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