There is some heavyweight action going on in the boxing writer realm, in case you missed it, with pound for pound ace Thomas Hauser, the Seymour Hersh of the space, coming out with the first two parts of a five parter on Al Haymon. Haymon is the sport's Wizard of Oz, so to speak, an all powerful sort who operates behind a curtain of reclusivity.
The NYC based Hauser spoke to dozens of sources for his series, now running on the RING website.
The first two parts of offered an overview of Haymon's rise, insight into his ways of operation, and pros and cons of his ways and means.
Already, we've felt ripples of reaction to the series, but maybe not from the source you'd assume to be responding. Another heavyweight presence in the space, Las Vegas based Kevin Iole, posted on his personal blog today an attempted smack-down of Hauser.
He noted that the investigative journo is posting the series to RING, which is owned by Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy. Oscar is a bitter rival to Haymon and has a lawsuit alleging attempted monopolization in play versus the Wizard of Al.
Iole also takes issue with Hauser having an consultant contract with HBO, which split with Haymon with animus in 2013. HBO buys the vast majority of their boxing product from Golden Boy and Top Rank, which also has a suit pending against Haymon, for alleged improprieties.
The Iole/Hauser offshoot of the Hauser on Haymon series is a “state of journalism” issue. Iole, a newspaper veteran, now enjoys one of the tiny handful of well funded full time fight writing jobs, with the Yahoo company. Hauser has long chosen to operate on a more freelance basis, and contributes to numerous websites, including the one I own, NYFIGHTS.com. Iole is charging that Hauser's POV is under scrutiny because of his affiliations.
Iole is highly regarded, by and large, by peers and readers, for the balance in his coverage. But he's not immune to charges of favoritism, though from a different angle. Iole in recent years has offered more MMA than boxing coverage, and occasionally has drawn critiques which assert he is too cozy with the party line furnished by MMA market leader UFC, and their figure-head Dana White. In fact, he blocked me on Twitter, for “liking” a Tweet which pointed out that his take in a column hewed too closely to UFC management's take. That issue, slanting of analysis, of biased reportage, the entire topic of perceived bias in news media is always in play, and all writers covering most any beat must reflect on the built-in difficulties involved.
I write for RING, and last month did play by play for a Top Rank show. No, it's not an ideal setup, as it can put a journalist in between the rock and the hard place. Hammer the hand that feeds, and watch the food supply get cut off…
Some writers I know insist they are above the fray, are immune from bias, advertise they never choose to refuse to do a story based on a sources' power in an industry or usefulness as a source who furnishes them scoops. Those people are lying, or are able to fool themself, and lying to you. Total lack of bias once one ascends to a certain place is impossible to enjoy. It can be overt, and admitted, or subconscious, but it's there, even among the most principled professionals.
I admire and appreciate much of what I read from Hauser, and Iole, too, though I don't take in much of the MMA selections. This (to this point one-sided) “feuding” boils down so much to the state of the game, and journalism as a whole, as much as anything else. There has been a diminishing of appreciation and financial support for journalism as a whole, particularly post world economic meltdown in 2008, and so potential conflicts of interest are inevitable as writers find it harder to cobble together a living wage in this vocation. This is an ugly reality within and outside the world of sports…and I don't expect it to begin to get better anytime soon, though I am hopeful things will stabilize and smooth out. The best we can do, for right now, I think, is to be aware of the structural deficiencies in this arena, acknowledge them, factor them in and make the best of it all.
TUESDAY LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE:
A disclosure tag is present at the end of each part of the series.