Fightgame lifer Tommy Gallagher got into hot water with the NY State Athletic Commission for his actions following the ringside doctors’ decision to pull the plug on the Felix Verdejo versus Antonio Lozada 135 pound showdown last Saturday at the Madison Square Garden Theater.
Gallagher, a Queens resident who’s known for his appearances on The Contender “reality” show, ran a gym in NY, and has been a trainer and promoter and manager in these parts since the 60s. After Verdejo was knocked down, then rose, and tried to make it to the end of the tenth and final round, he communicated his ire.
The commission took issue with he behavior, and, Gallagher told me on Sunday, promised to suspend him. They made good on that promise, suspending him for one year, and fining him $1,000.
NYSAC spokesman Lee Park sent me his notes on a story I wrote on the matter, and also took to social media to offer his points on the subject:
Me: “Without knowing the exact back and forth, my POV on the matter was this: boxing ain’t tiddlywinks…. Passions get inflamed, among participants and principals…”
Response: Darn right. It’s not tiddlywinks. In fact, it can be a matter of life and death. No one at NYSAC is a shrinking violet – we’re all adults and we fully understand passions can be inflamed and our staff understands the environment. But there’s a line between inflamed and abusive, and Mr. Gallagher crossed it on Saturday night.
Me: “…because, hello, lives are on the line, and careers are too.”
Response: That’s exactly why NYSAC medical staff is ringside doing their job: lives and careers are indeed on the line.
Me: “Gallagher told me after that he was pained that the doc pulled the plug. Boxing is Felix’ life, he told me.”
Response: The doctor acted appropriately to make sure that Felix can continue to fight in the future.
Me: “Yes, officials are occasionally going to be informed, vehemently, sometimes with unsavory word choice, that their actions were not meriting appreciation in the eyes of onlookers…. Yeah, sometimes salty language gets used and voices get raised. And in the heat of battle, sometimes maybe we tend to raise our voice when a more measured tone would be preferable, to keep tempers in check. I wasn’t there…but all in all, I think some leeway to factor in the passion felt by participants might be called for here.”
Response: Kudos, seriously, on the novel characterization of Mr. Gallagher’s behavior on Saturday with NYSAC Medical Staff. NYSAC staff that was there characterizes it as “screaming offensive, obscene and threating language at the physician.”
Me: “Gallagher told me Thursday he stands by standing up for his fighter, and will respectfully appeal any suspension. His bottom line: the ref was right there, had the best view, and he didn’t step in and end it. Why did the doctor do it?
Response: The doctor explicitly has that authority and that’s why they are there. He/she has the medical expertise and skills that are different from those of a referee.
Me: “My bottom line: I hope NYSAC considers his lifetime of service to the sport and realizes he was just thinking in terms of how much was at stake for his fighter. A title shot was in his sites and it slid down the drain as the doc hopped up the stairs…He was heated, because he cares.”
Response: NYSAC was actually considering ‘how much is at stake for his fighter’ and all participants in the sports we regulate. One could surmise that Mr. Gallagher’s actions – distracting and intimidating medical staff while they are ensuring his fighter’s wellbeing – is counter to the claim that he ‘cares.’
Our bottom line:
This is a long-overdue and welcome discussion in New York. With recent tragedies surrounding the sport, the culture must change.
Mr. Gallagher’s actions and behaviors with regard to NYSAC staff are a perfect example of what not to do in this new environment. It will not be tolerated by him or any other licensee.
Ringside medical professionals have a specific job to do, and they cannot be distracted or intimidated from doing that job. Licensees who don’t believe in or respect this simple notion have no business participating in New York State combat sports.
My three cents:
1) Check out the letters from NYSAC showing their ruling on the matter. Note than Gallagher can ask for a hearing to debate the penalty
2) I appreciate Camp's back and forth. Too often in the past, we've not had this, and transparency has been lacking in what should be a more see-through milieu.
3) Being a Libra, and knowing how the world works, I can tell you I see things from both sides, the commission's and Gallaghers.' When I talked to Gallagher the day after the fight, and he told me about the impending suspension, I told him this is an example of a new cost of doing business in NY. This is the post Mago world, and I said the same thing I told Luis Ortiz' camp after they took issue with a doc taking extra time to make sure Deontay Wilder was fit to continue in his heavyweight match with Ortiz at Barclays Center a few weeks ago. Doctors will now be erring on the side of caution. And 99 percent of the time, I'm OK with that, because a title shot isn't worth dying for. I think trainers and managers need to comprehend this new reality, and perhaps adjust their game planning in fights which unfold in NY, to be honest.