How the British Boxing Board of Control attempts to govern conduct outside the ring

Image source: Daily Mail

The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) is the governing body of professional boxing in the UK and as well as governing conduct whilst in-the-ring, it also controls conduct outside of the ring. 

Under Regulation 25 of the rules and regulations, the BBBC can call any member to appear before it in connection with any allegation of misconduct, made by any person. Misconduct rules are usually drafted widely in order to catch a number of different acts that may bring the sport into disrepute and are often criticised due to the uncertainty of what behaviour is caught under the rule. Generally speaking, if the behaviour or comment could be considered as risky or offensive to a particular group of persons, it is best to err on the side of caution and avoid it. In terms of boxing, the conduct rules do, however, include irresponsible or unsavoury outbursts during press conferences, and interviews, leading up to the big fight. More recently, the rules have also covered comments made on social media.  

Following an investigation of a misconduct allegation, the governing body, has the power to make any order as they see fit, in the event that they consider that the action does indeed fit the criteria for a finding of misconduct. In determining the finding, the BBBC will be required to determine whether the conduct is likely to bring the sport into disrepute. Sanctions can include withdrawal or suspension of license as well as fines. 

The BBBC announced earlier this week that it would be investigating comments made by boxer, David Haye, at a recent press conference ahead of his fight against Tony Bellew. Both fighters had been previously warned of their conduct at a press conference at the tail end of last year after the pair clashed. 

At a most recent press conference, Haye called Bellew's fans, "f***ing retards" and during media interviews, threatened to put Bellew in hospital by doing serious damage to his head. He warned that Bellew should ensure that his family do not watch, as a result. The BBBC was quoted as stating that the comments were very disappointing and it would be discussed at a meeting on March 8th.

The BBBC takes the comments of boxers, during press-conferences and any interviews, very seriously and any unsavoury remarks will not be tolerated, especially given the current climate of head injuries in sport and off the back of a dark year for boxing, with the death of Scottish boxer, Mike Towell and an injury that saw boxer, Nick Blackwell put into a coma.

The BBBC secretary stated:

"Last night in Hull we saw a terrific contest between Gavin McDonnell and the Mexican, Rey Vargas. McDonnell gave his hall, and then I saw the two men together talking the fight over like friends afterwards later in the evening. That is how boxers should carry themselves, and this is the way many of know boxers to be."

The BBBC has recently made an example of Dereck Chisora, following a violent outburst at a press conference ahead of his fight with Dillian Whyte, which saw him throw a table at Whyte. Following investigations, the BBBC concluded that Chisora's behaviour fell far short of that expected from a licensed boxer and amounted to misconduct. His behaviour was unacceptable and taking into account his previous record, which was not good, the governing body imposed the following sanctions:-

  • License suspension for a period of two years, suspended by two years
  • Withdrawal by the Board of its approval for the contest with Dillian Whyte to be for the British Heavyweight Championship
  • Fine of £25,000
  • Payment of £5,000 in hearing costs

The BBBC came under fire, however, when boxer Tyson Fury made controversial non-boxing remarks regarding women and homosexuals. The governing body investigated the matter but released a statement advising that he would not be subject to any punishment as they could not interfere with his right to freedom of expression with regards to non-boxing comments. Fury was, however, reprimanded and advised of his responsibilities to avoid making non-boxing, controversial comments. Fury accepted the reprimand and later apologised for his comments. The decision, however, was heavily criticised and at a time when the governing body was trying to promote women's boxing and sport, in general, was attempting to tackle discrimination in sport.

With regards to social media, the eyes of the governing body are everywhere and boxers should take care when posting comments on social media, at all times. Tyson Fury was subject to a £3,000 fine, in 2013, after he posted offensive comments on Twitter with regards to fellow boxers, Tony Bellew and David Price, as well as their families. Social media can be a great asset for sports-persons if used carefully. It provides a wonderful opportunity for boxers to be in control of their own image and how they want to be perceived to their fanbase and of course, further afield. It provides a platform in which to develop their brand and encourage sponsorship and marketing opportunities with the potential for their posts to be seen by millions, in a short space of time. It should, however, be stressed to those using social media sites, such as Twitter, just how quickly one comment can spread online, and the negative consequences that can arise, thereafter, not just for their own image but their professional careers.

It is important to remember that as a member of the BBBC, boxers are subject to a code of conduct and, in general, have a duty to abide by certain standards. They must ensure that they act in the best interests of boxing and not bring the sport into disrepute, through their actions. A breach of the conduct rules and thus a finding of misconduct could result in withdrawal of one's licence and a hefty fine. In an increasingly regulated sporting world, the BBBC have made it clear that they will not tolerate inappropriate behaviour, either physically or verbally, and will take action where necessary to ensure that the sport is protected.

IMPORTANT: This post is not intended to be a legal briefing, it is not intended to be a statement of the law and no action should be taken in reliance on it without specific legal advice.

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