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David Berlin Pushed Out, Or No?

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The personnel shuffling at the New York State Athletic Commission continues, with attorney David Berlin exiting the oversight body, and Eric Bentley taking his slot.

Thomas Hauser first reported the development.

Berlin was officially the executive director of NYSAC, as of May 2014, and was reporting to chairman Tom Hoover. The ex NBAer Hoover took his chair, a position selected by the Governor of NY, in January 2015. That chairperson had been Melvina Lathan, who served from 2008 until being bumped for Hoover.

Such movement isn’t overly out of the ordinary. The NYSAC positions are ones that can fly under radar, until they don’t. The NYSAC came under scrutiny when heavyweight Magomed Abdusalsmov was gravely injured in his December 2014 MSG Theater fight against Mike Perez. Mago’s family has suits pending against various entities, seeking financial compensation, as Mago has been left severely disabled after brain trauma.

An inspector general investigation report was commissioned but as yet, the completed document has not been made public.

As for Berlin (below), a release from the commission makes it like he resigned.

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A source with knowledge of the move tells NYF says, “he didn’t resign, he was pushed out.”

I asked a commission spokesman if Berlin was pushed out or resigned.

The response:

The New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC), which is overseen by the New York Department of State, remains focused on providing the optimal oversight and regulation of boxing in New York State.

David Berlin, the former Executive Director of NYSAC, recently resigned from the Department, and Eric Bentley has been named NYSAC’s Acting Executive Director. Mr. Bentley’s experience in the industry, coupled with his years of service at the Commission, will ensure that day-to-day operations will be well-handled during this transition.

So why the Berlin exit on Friday the 13th? The source said that Berlin wasn’t the sort to go with the flow, capitulate, and dug his feet in with his stances on principle. The powers that be wanted another style of personality, seemingly.

The source said three other staffers were shifted to another branch of service, so clearly, the commission is in a state of flux.

Hoover (seen below) has not proven to be universally popular. He’s rubbed some the wrong way with, for example, a debatably heavy handed manner in which he demanded that there not be “excessive” coaching from cornermen during bouts.

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Trainer Joe Higgins has taken issue with Hoover over this issue, he told me. The tutor to Long Island light heavyweight contender Sean Monoghan said he felt insulted when Hoover chided a bunch of trainers and fighters as he laid down the law early in his tenure regarding corner coaching during fights. “The state made a mistake with Berlin,” Higgins said. “He was the man. He had the utmost integrity and treated people with respect. But you didn’t treat his kindness as weakness. I don’t think the Governor knows what is really going on with the commission.”

Hauser laid out a matter which could impact the volume of boxing (and now MMA) shows within the state. New guidelines call for event promoters to beef up the amount of insurance they obtain to cover incidences and catastrophes stemming from their fights. The amount of coverage called for is $1 million…that could likely be, Hauser surmises, too large an ask, too high a wall for a prospective promoter to climb. The source told NYF that people are optimistic that a work-around can be done, that a provision to the new insurance guidelines could allow for flexibility. “I think we can fashion some remedy,” the source said.

There will I think be more shoes dropping, what with UFC setting up to do two MMA shows in NY before the end of the year. I could see there being a push to have the commission reflect more of an MMA-centric flavor, being that that organization will be promoting NY events with hardcore emphasis. The economic impact of UFC events in New York cannot be minimized.

We will seek to confer with Berlin, and get his take on his term and the circumstances of his leaving. Stay tuned.

Editor/publisher Michael Woods became addicted to boxing in 1990, when Buster Douglas shocked the world with his demolition of the fearsome Mike Tyson. The Brooklyn-based journalist Woods has covered the sport since then, for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, ESPN New York, RING, and he was editor of TheSweetScience.com from 2007-2015. Woods is also an accomplished blow by blow and color man, having done work for Top Rank, DiBella Entertainment, EPIX, and numerous other organizations.

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