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C.O.D.A and The Retired Boxers Federation Executive Director, Jacquie Richardson chats with Ringnews24

Presents an Interview with C.O.D.A and The Retired Boxers Federation Executive Director, Jacquie Richardson.

Hi Jacquie, on behalf of RingNews24.com and our readers, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. As well as our own, we have included questions provided by fans on the RingNews Forum.

We hope our readers enjoy the interview

 

What is the ultimate goal of CODA, do you envisage a day when it is the only sanctioning body? How are your rankings compiled?

The ultimate goal of CODA (www.codaboxing.com) is to respect the sport of boxing and the athletes that participate. We also offer retired athletes an active role in the organization. They know best what they are talking about. We want to take it a step forward and do something for the retired fighters. How great is it to use a winning formula for distributing belts, but also give something back to the legends and warriors who made the sport what it is, and need a little help in their retirement (all fees are donated to the RBF: retiredboxers.org). THAT is what is unique about CODA. God Bless them!

As it is, the man or woman that places their life at risk in the center of the ring is a commodity. Arthur Mercante, the great referee (R.I.P.) once said to me, “Amateur boxing is a sport. Professional boxing is a business.” Alex Ramos, the founder and President of the Retired Boxers Foundation, told me that boxing is a sport that has been around for 2000 years. If the two people in the ring are well trained and well matched, the sport is beautiful to watch and there are far less risks to the athletes. How many fights have you watched where the opponent “took the fight two days ago…” or a week ago, or two weeks ago? If you watch ESPN, you will see Teddy Atlas complain about a fight where the opponent took the fight on short notice nearly every single Friday night. THIS is a major problem in boxing, at the level where the fight is reaching the highest focal point: Fighters doing anything to be on TV, or is it the fighters? What kind of people will allow these mismatches to continue? What kind of people will care only about the fight going on when the opponent drops out? The kind of people who have money riding on a fight happening. The kind of people who have sponsors who expect a fight to be televised. The kind of people who don’t care about the fighter.

I could go on and on about terrible mismatches and the devastating affects on the athletes. I can tell you about fighters knocked out in sparring or who have had stitches in their chins during sparring. I can tell you about the number of fighters who are hurt, but encouraged to go on. Remember, money is invested in the event. If the fighter doesn’t show up on fight night, no one gets paid, including the fighter. I personally know fighters who entered the ring with a concussion. I personally know fighters whose managers told them to get the stitches taken out of their chins and to show up to fight. I personally know commissions that have doctors who don’t even have licenses to practice as a medical doctor, much less training as a ringside physician. I know of commissions who have fighters who can’t pass the neuro test and they actually TELL the fighter how to pass it and give them multiple chances to pass. For what?

CODA does not want to be the ONLY sanctioning body in boxing, but we DO want to set an example. We want the safety of the fighter to be our ultimate goal. We want well matched fights and well trained fighters. We want it to be about the fight and not about the sponsors. Sounds idealistic, but someone has to step up to the plate. The RBF is way too busy helping damaged fighters trying to live a life with a little dignity after their days in the spotlight are over. We cannot reveal many of these stories because we respect the dignity of the fighter. I hope there is some credibility when I say the aftermath is tragic and it is all preventable.

We will be relying on BoxRec.com for the rankings. As we evolve, we may change and use more resources, but for now, we are comfortable with Box Rec. If there is ANY controversy, we will use our distinguished advisory board to intervene. We chose Box Rec because it is allows us to stay

Independent because it is computerized. This is the new way of the business of boxing. We are not competing with any other sanctioning body. We are starting a new sanctioning body that will work with integrity and honor. For the male boxers, we simply want good quality matches. To qualify for a CODA belt, we considered using the highest BoxRec.com-ranked available and interested boxers to fight for our title. No matter what, it needs to be a quality match and the title fight needs to be a qualified challenge. That’s how real champions are made! That way the lower ranks, without the politics and ties, can fight for the title too. We want the process to be simple. We want quality, even if it means we have to wait for our titles to be filled. We hope that someday, our male champions can become world champions for the big organizations in male boxing and if we are a stepping stone to a bigger championship, we are proud to have provided the opportunity to them.

On the female side our goal is to become the biggest organization. We have a great network of people that know their stuff and that are willing to work with us, including people who really know the female boxing world, like Sue TI Fox of WBAN (womenboxing.com). Former fighters Marischa Sjauw, Terri Moss and Laura Serrano are part of our organization and really know what they are talking about when it comes to women’s boxing.

Female fighters need an extra boost because they represent a much smaller segment of the sport of boxing. For the females, we use the computerized WBAN ratings since they are very credible, computerized and independent. We make it one of our goals to do as much for female boxing as possible. We want to provide opportunities that are not currently available to them, and maintain the highest quality competitions possible. Only somebody within the top 10 can fight a challenger from within the top 10 for our title. If the last fight is lost per TKO or KO one does not qualify. If the two last fights are lost, one does not qualify either (this applies to our male world titles too). This might sound simple to some people and some even might think that is too easy, but we want to keep it simple on purpose! Since we just started, all of your titles are vacant. We had offers already, but we declined because of the lack of quality of the proposed match-ups. We could use the money for the RBF, but we want to stick to our standards too.

Besides the male and female championships, we offer a chance to recognize a fighter in a way that directly benefits the Retired Boxers Foundation and the retired champions, legends and journeymen they represent. The RBF and CODA want to make a statement and a tribute to the DIGNITY of the sport. This Dignity belt is a specially designed belt and will be chosen by the promoter. On the business end of boxing, the promoter will make a donation to the Retired Boxers Foundation, and the winner of their promotion will be awarded the Dignity Belt. If the promoter donates at least $2500, the winner of a fight gets the Dignity belt which cannot be lost in the ring. It is very difficult to raise money for retired fighters who need our help so desperately, so we thought the Dignity Belt option would provide a chance for the business of boxing to salute what we do, and provide the RBF resources to do the work that needs to be done.

With regards to your excellent work with The Retired Boxers Foundation (RBF), could you let me know how to get involved and is there a way to donate to the organization whether time or financially?

Alex and I have talked about a program called “Giving 5 for the Fighters.” It could be a financial donation of $5, $15, $25, $50 or $500 (or more) so that we can continue the work that we do. No one in the organization is paid any salary and in fact, both Alex and I donate a lot of money to make sure we do not have to turn anyone away. A few months ago, we had to raise $2400 to keep a former legend in boxing from losing his house. Like many fighters, he was to embarrassed to ask for help until it was almost too late. We called on our many supporters and collected the money and wired it to him in time to save the house. He had the house for a long time, but like many in this horrible economy, had to choose between medical bills and his house. He has children and a wife and is still involved in boxing.

The other part of “Giving 5 for the Fighters” could be giving your time to help a retired professional boxer who needs someone to help them get the medical attention they need, housing, rehab or whatever it might be. These “Guardian Angels of Boxing” live everywhere in the world. One of my favorites is Thomas Jess. Tom is a regular guy, but he made a point of visiting Rocky Lockridge in Camden New Jersey while we were working on getting him on A&E Intervention, where Rocky ultimately got over $75 thousand dollars in free drug rehab and housing. Rocky will be sober for two years on November 9th. After being homeless for 15 years, heavily addicted to crack cocaine and alcohol, and suffering from a stroke, we were able to make a miracle happen because of people like Thomas Jess.

In another incident, we had retired fighters who were in law enforcement helping us to find Jimmy Young, who had a house, but chose to live on the streets. He was in danger of being incarcerated for “loitering” and “public drunkenness” when a Public Defender called us to ask if we could write a letter to the Judge. Jimmy did not belong in jail and nothing would come of incarceration that would help the public or Jimmy. Our letter worked and Jimmy was sentenced to the rehab facility that we found for him. Unfortunately, Jimmy was found dead on the street a few days later.

Another angel for the RBF is Sam Bearman. Sam is an attorney in Florida that belongs to an association of attorneys that specialize in Supplemental Security Income. SSI provides a monthly income, access to subsidized housing and to medical care. Sam will arrange for any fighter to apply for SSI and to help those who have been turned down, to file an appeal with legal representation. Sam has also donated money directly to retired fighters who need help and to the RBF.

If you want to help the RBF, send an email to [email protected]. Or, you can write directly to Alex Ramos at [email protected]. Also, visit our site at www.retiredboxers.org and on Facebook at Retired Boxers Foundation, Inc. Every donor who contributes $100 or more to the Retired Boxers Foundation will be noted on the Retired Boxers Foundation “Undisputed Champions of Dignity” banner on our website. So far, our biggest contributors are the fans, so we want to take this opportunity to acknowledge them in a big way.

How long has the the Retired Boxers Foundation (RBF) been running and how many boxers in total have you helped or assisted?

We have been in existence since 1998, and incorporated as an IRS 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation in 2003. Our mission is to assist retired professional boxers in the transition from their glorious days in the ring to a dignified retirement. Since we started, we have helped over 1,000 fighters in varying degrees. For some, it was a middle of the night phone call with reassurance that they would be OK. Alex takes these calls and has been an inspiration to them, For fighters who have just gotten out of rehab and need reassurance, Alex is the man! For those who have nothing to eat, we can find someone to bring them groceries. I would like to acknowledge Henry Hascup who is the Executive Director for the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame. Henry is known to take those bags of groceries, which he paid for out of his own pocket, to boxers and their families. He knocks on their doors and talks to them and lets them know that they are still in our thoughts. Once their careers are over, doesn’t mean they are forgotten. I would also like to acknowledge Lt. Mike Indri, who is with the West New York Police Department. Mike has been a long time servant or Guardian Angel for the RBF, talking to fighters and paying them a little cash to be at our annual Comedy Night at the Bananna’s Comedy Store. Mike Indri is our Vice President and has been our spokesman on the East Coast.

I would also like to acknowledge our world-renowned Medical Advisory Board, including Dr. John Stiller who is a neurologist at St. Elizabeth’s hospital in Washington DC and is a ring side physician in D.C. and Maryland; Dr. Paul Wallace who is the Chief Ringside Physician for the California State Boxing Commission, and Dr. Ray Monsell, from Cardiff Wales who have provided invaluable advice to us with respect to fighters who need help. They have inspired Alex Ramos to be the trailblazer for other fighters who have neurological problems that interfere with their quality of life.

There are so many people who help us help fighters. I would be remiss not to mention IPRO,the International Professional Ringside Officials association who have donated thousands of dollars to the RBF to help fighters in need. I also need to acknowledge the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians who are dedicated to helping make the sport of boxing safe for the athletes and who are vocal in their support of boxing AND the RBF.

We have done incredible things to restore DIGNITY in the lives of retired professional boxers, with the help of the greatest humanitarians in the sport of boxing, including the wonderful fans who care about the athletes. THANK YOU! Do you think that a percentage of a fighters ‘purse’ should automatically go towards a pension fund for them for when they retire and is that every likely given that each US state has its own Athletic commission?

There is a model program for a Boxers Pension Plan in California. Unfortunately, for years it was mismanaged. Every year during a budget impasse, the funds from the pension plan were turned over to the General Fund, which caused the intent of the Boxers Pension Fund to dissipate. That has changed and those funds are now dedicated to Retired Boxers. On the one hand, the pensions have not been distributed as they were supposed to be. The Commission claims that retired fighters are “transient” and that they do not know where the vested fighters are. That is a crock. Alex Ramos has had the same address for 13 years, yet has no correspondence from Sacramento. In spite of the bad reports. The California State Athletic Commission has the best program, and if replicated across the United States, could actually provide a pension to retired fighters that could sustain them. In a nutshell, a vested fighter has to have 75 rounds fought in California and their pension would be approximately $2 a round. We will use Alex Ramos as the example. He fought 154 rounds in California. That would provide a pension of around $300. Not enough to live on, BUT, if the States of New York and New Jersey and every other state he fought in, his 50 + fights at $2 a round would give him a pension of over $1000 a month. THAT he could live on somewhere in the U.S., Is it likely that every state would adopt a Boxers Pension Plan? No. It is so unfortunate that in this great country, States and Commissions cannot agree on a national Boxers Pension Plan. It disturbs me that greyhound racing dogs are provided lifetime medical care in their retirement, but retired professional boxers are not. Congress made the Greyhound retirement possible, as they did for retired Jockeys by an act of Congress. Boxers, like Jockeys and the Professional Golfers are considered “independent consultants.” If we could somehow convince Congress that boxers are every bit as important as greyhound racing dogs, we could do something! Not to be facetious, we should lobby every state to follow California and then we would fund a Boxers Pension Plan. Tell me….as a fan, would you object to $.86 of every ticket purchased for a fight, to go to a Boxers Pension Plan? Londoner On the subject of retired boxers, what would be the ideal scenario in the future on issues such as pensions, healthcare etc in your opinion? If you read the previous answer, you would be able to see that a state Boxers Pension Plan is feasible and totally do-able! If we could get a dollar a ticket for every butt in the seat for a boxing show, no matter how big or small the show it, you could fund a Boxers Pension Plan. If we got a quarter for every pay-per-view televised show, we could fund the Retired Boxers Foundation for as long as we need to help retired fighters. This is one of the most important reasons we have aligned with CODA and its founder, Marcel Niessen. Marcel has been a friend of the RBF since we started. His loyalty to the RBF translates to loyalty to fighters.

Have you experienced setbacks or road blocks from the other Orgs or have they been helpful in any way?

As I mentioned above, we have been helped tremendously by IPRO and the American Association of Professional Ringside Physicians, as well as the Ring associations and the hall of fames. We have built an organization of support that is amazing. Even the WBC has helped us. We like to think of our organization as the bridge to long term solutions. We helped one fighter—Juan Antonio Lopez (who brought us Julio Cesar Chavez) pay for chemo therapy until the WBC took over for us and got government assistance in Mexico. We get far more assistance in services than we do in cash. We have learned to leverage our resources and have never turned a fighter in need away.

Will you work closely together with any of them if the chance presents its self?

We will work with ANY organization that wants to help retired professional fighters. When Jerry Cooney’s Organization, FIST, was in operation, they referred people to the RBF. We welcome any and all organizations that have the same mission that we do. End of story.

How do you feel about interim belts and will they be a part of your orgs system?

We will not use interim titles. If a champion cannot defend his/her title, we will take a close look at the circumstances and discuss the case with our board. The title will have to be defended within reasonable time. Note: we will only use the term world title. There will not be any America’s titles, intercontinental titles, international titles, silver titles etc. Again, we want to keep it simple.

*Star Question* Jacquie, how do you find the time to be involved as heavily as you are and help so many different people in so many different aspects will working a full time job, being a wife, living life?

The truth? I am inspired by Alex Ramos. He had an illustrious career as an amateur, winning 4 NY Golden Gloves, numerous amateur championships such as PAL, AAU, AAU and being on the 1978-1980 USA Olympic Boxing Team. He turned pro in 1980 and won the USBA Championship in 1984 and the California Middleweight Championship in 1986. He fell from the spotlight and was homeless for many years. He woke up one night with a nightmare. He did not want to die on the street, homeless and lost in the darkness. His dream was to do something to help other retired fighters like himself. Alex has suffered many obstacles, not the least of which is devastating damage to the frontal and temporal lobes of his brain. He nearly died from seizures and other ailments. How could anyone refuse to help someone like Alex; a man who gives selflessly of himself, suffering ridicule for his disability and having to undergo countless neurological and psychiatric evaluations, yet does so to give his brothers in boxing to do the same thing, Honestly, I work full time so that I can afford to do things for the RBF. My husband Reg is actively involved. Alex taught my son Jay to respect people with disabilities and to learn from their knowledge. I am truly blessed. I love Alex as if he were my son and all of us agree that if someone is fighting to move forward in their lives, we are there for them. Alex Ramos has blessed our lives and allowed us to live the life God intended for us.

I think Ring has a pretty decent ranking system with the belts going only the lineal champ, the guy who beat the guy. How do you feel about that?

I think it is a great system.

What can we as boxing fans the world over do to help promote CODA and the RBF?

Invite CODA into your community boxing promotions. Give your fighters a chance to fight for an honorable belt/championship and know that the reasonable fees you pay will help the retired fighters who made boxing what it is today. Everybody wins! Write about us! Talk about us! Support us.

Do you one day see each state with its own RBF branches?

Right now, there is basically just me and Alex. Alex has chosen representatives in nearly every state. If something happens, we can rally our representatives to do what needs to be done. If we ever had appropriate funding, we could have official RBF branches all over the country in other countries as well.

How are your honorary members picked?

Our Honorary Board Members are those who love boxing and who appreciate what the RBF has done for the sport. They all want to do what is right for boxing and for the athletes.

How hard would it be to make it mandatory for everyone associated with boxing to contribute to the RBF? Is there a commission now that would have the jurisdiction to implement such act?

The only way it could be mandated that the RBF be recognized. The only way it could be implemented would be for the states to mandate it through state law. For example, in Nevada, there is one dollar for every ticket bought that is donated to Amateur Boxing. It is legislated. If something like that would be done for the RBF, we would be fully funded and could make a read difference rather than doing something for one fighter at a time. Unfortunately, there are only two of us and we just do not have the manpower to make it happen.

What are your thoughts concerning the state of the boxing without a Unified Commission?

Unified Commission or not, every commission meeting should have ten fighters sitting in the front row of their meetings. For some reason, the fighters seem to be intimidated by the commission. Could it be that the Commissions decide who fights, when and where? So, what if RETIRED fighters sat in the front row at these meetings? They could make a difference in the decisions that are made. THAT is what I would like to see. Think GLOBALLY and ACT LOCALLY! If the fighters speak up, they can save this sport and keep the new fighters safe.

What are some of your favorite hobbies that you partake in aside from helping others?

I like to golf and I have a terrific back swing.

I feel that all the managers and promoters should get involved along with the current fighters, what is being done engage them?

I would like to meet with the new Promoters Organization. So many promoters have been so good to Alex and I. None of them have donated money, but they do give us tickets to fights although not that often. We go to the fights to talk to the trainers, the cornermen, the cutmen and the fighters. That is how we find out who needs help. They are our representatives. Fighters NEVER call and ask for help. It is their community of trainers, cutmen, cornermen, family and fans. Going to the fights is outreach for the RBF.

In my dreams….if we got $100 bucks from every promoter who does a fight on television, we would be able to expand and do even more for boxing. With a multi-million dollar fight like the upcoming mega fight, a small donation would be outstanding. For God’s sake, even Manny Pacquiao needs to pay taxes. So does Floyd Mayweather and retired boxers like Oscar DeLaHoya, Why not make a donation to the RBF and get a tax deduction. Much better than giving it to the IRS, don’t you think?

I would like to thank Edsel for giving us this wonderful opportunity to tell you about the RBF and our new relationship with CODA. Together, we can achieve more! We can ALL be “The Undisputed Champions for DIGNITY!”

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