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Should Russian Boxers Be Barred from Competing? Results of a New TSS Survey

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  • Should Russian Boxers Be Barred from Competing? Results of a New TSS Survey

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    By Ted Sares

    The question this time was a somewhat complex one, to wit: “Do you believe that Russian (and Belarusian) boxers should be barred from competing until the conflict in Ukraine is over? If yes, why so? If not, why not?”

    Twenty-seven notables in the boxing community weighed-in. The respondents are listed alphabetically.

    Russ Anber -- elite trainer, cornerman, and owner of Rival Boxing Equipment: In my opinion, yes! If you are a Russian or Belarussian boxer who’s home and legal status is still in Russia, then yes I think they should be barred from fighting. If you are Russian born, but you are now a legal, landed Immigrant or Permanent Resident in another country, then you are free to box. If you are Russian and travelling on a “Work Visa” and your place of residence and citizenship is still in Russia, then that would render you ineligible. As a side note I think this should be applied to all professional athletes including the NHL. If you are a Russian player playing on a Work Visa, then you lose that right.

    Joe Bruno -- member of Florida Boxing Hall of Fame, prolific writer, and former BWAA official: No Russian athlete should be allowed to compete anywhere while his country is killing innocent civilians in Ukraine.

    Jeff Bumpus -- former boxer, writer: I can understand both sides of the argument. I know that the 1980 (U.S. Olympic) team did not compete and the only ones who suffered were the athletes from both countries who were denied the stage (the Russians boycotted the ‘84 LA games). Holding the athletes out doesn’t solve the international crisis, but neither does ignoring a tyrant. The 1938 Olympics went forward despite Hitler’s aggressions. Were we wrong for sending Jesse Owens and the (others) to Germany? Or did any of it make any difference? I say no, it did not. And an athlete’s window of opportunity is very small. It’s a hard question to answer. If pressed, I say put the world affairs aside and let them compete.

    Michael Culbert -- former pro boxer: These boxers are just trying to make a living and have nothing to do with politics. It would be very unfair to be banned because of what their government has done.

    Jill Diamond -- WBC International Secretary: Sports should transcend politics; however, peace should transcend sports. We use the tools we have to accomplish this. It's all terribly sad.

    ********** It's Putin not them! **********

    John DiSanto -- keeper of Philly Boxing History, author: I believe they should NOT be barred from competing. The war in Ukraine was started by a corrupt leader and “government”, not the people of Russia. Although Russian athletes represent their country, they are not responsible for the problems. Although this might be reaching, a Russian boxer might even speak out against the aggression of his president, and thus help the overall cause of ending the war. So, no.

    Rick Farris -- president & founder at West Coast Boxing Hall of Fame: Who cares? Boxing is not important compared to what is going on in the world. I have never considered the best of Russia’s boxers to be competitive as professionals. And who cares about amateur boxing beyond those involved?

    Jeffrey Freeman -- aka KO Digest, TSS writer: I stand with conservative pundit Candace Owens on this one: “Absolutely appalling the way Russians are being treated in America and abroad. That our leaders and government institutions are allowing for and at times calling for this discrimination… quite telling. Russian lives matter.”

    Clarence George -- writer and historian: Of course Russian and Belarusian fighters shouldn't be banned. We don't punish people for their nationality. As Paul Sorvino said in Goodfellas (1990), "We're not animali.”

    Lee Groves -- writer, author and the wizard of CompuBox: I understand the desire for administrators to demonstrate their outrage against Putin's savagery, but I do not think penalizing Russians and Belarusians just for being born Russian or Belarusian is the proper way to do so. These athletes can't control where they are born and they shouldn't be prevented from making a living. If a specific athlete has been found to have supported or contributed to Putin's carnage, that's a different matter, but without that caveat, a ban is wholly unfair.

    Henry Hascup -- historian and President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: No, Schmeling wasn't banned back in the 30's so why should they. It's Putin, not them!

    Chuck Hasson -- author and historian: I really don’t think I am qualified to decide such a complex question. We have all tried to provide for our immediate families and these guys aren’t into political policy. They just want to take care of loved ones.

    Arne Lang -- TSS editor-in-chief, author, historian: I would prefer that this was handled on a case-by-case basis. For example, David Avanesyan is slated to fight this coming weekend in his adopted homeland of England and I am perfectly fine with it so long as Avanesyan doesn't bring any Russian insignia into the ring with him.

    Ron Lipton -- member of NJ and NY Boxing Halls of Fame, referee, historian, writer: No. There are many people in Russia who are protesting the war. It should not be held against one fighter nor should the lone fact of their heritage be a reason to ban them from making a living. There was a guy in boxing once, let me think of his name, give me a moment please, he stood up against many for his beliefs, oh yeah, I remember, Muhammad Ali.

    Paul Magno -- writer, author, and boxing official in Mexico: Maybe I'm missing something, but I don't see the direct correlation between an individual Russian athlete competing as a private citizen and the war in Ukraine as a whole. How would banning him/her impact Russia or strike any sort of blow to the Russian invasion? I guess there's the propagandists’ use of a victorious Russian athlete to support their war efforts. There’s also the possibility that money earned from the event could be funneled into the war effort. So, maybe I’m wrong. But I just can’t get past the idea of shutting down a fighter’s livelihood for something that is 100% not their fault and something they actually may be against.

    Adeyinka Makinde -- UK barrister, author, contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing: Politics should be kept strictly out of sports. Sporting links can maintain a vital link between nations which may be ruptured at diplomatic and trade level. All boycotts and barring edicts do is replicate national political rivalries and reveal the hypocrisy of those who have done the same or similar deeds of which they accuse the wrongdoing nation that is the target of the boycott.

    Layla McCarter -- world title holder, multiple weight divisions; member of Female Boxer Hall of Fame: It’s complicated. On the one hand stopping Russians from competing is meant to put pressure on Putin from his own people. On the other, the Russian people are paying the price for Putin’s actions. If they speak out against him, they are punished. By not allowing them to compete the world is punishing them. Fair? I don’t think so, so I lean toward letting them compete.

    Robert Mladinich -- former boxer, author, writer, actor: No fights should be sanctioned in Russia or for boxers based in Russia or Belarus but I don’t think it is fair to penalize boxers from those nations who are in other countries on work visas. It’s an emotional, hot button issue and I could entertain arguments for or against them being banned but it is important to strike a balance while still holding Russia accountable.

    Joseph Pasquale -- elite boxing judge and member of AC Boxing Hall of Fame: I imagine there will great difficulty just in obtaining visas to compete out of Russia under these war conditions. Compared to most sports, boxers have a very narrow window of peak career opportunity. This conflict will probably handicap many.

    Russell Peltz -- legendary Philadelphia boxing promoter, 2004 IBHOF inductee, author: I'm undecided. I hate to penalize any Russian athlete whose political leaning I have no clue about. On the other hand, it MAY be necessary to go all in 100% against everything Russian, whether it's oil, vodka, McDonalds, athletes, etc

    Dennis Rappaport -- famous manager, promoter, and historian: Fights in Russia should not be sanctioned; however, you really should not prevent Russian fighters from boxing elsewhere. Even Schmeling wasn’t prevented from fighting in the U.S.

    Fred Romano -- boxing historian, author and former HBO Boxing consultant: This is not the type of question I would answer without careful consideration. I would like to know the precedents in such situations before drawing a conclusion. Punitive action against an individual for the actions of others must pass strict scrutiny.

    Dana Rosenblatt -- former middleweight champion of the world, inspirational speaker:The only way to make sanctions stick is if all Russians feel it. Then they will take action against their own government. All Russian boxers should be banned until the conflict is over.

    Ted Sares -- TSS writer: For sanctions to be 100% effective, they must be symbolic as well as actual. In my view, Russian boxers should be barred from competing in the U.S. until the conflict is over.

    “Iceman” John Scully -- former boxer, manager, trainer, writer: Of course not. They are not politicians. Many other countries do ungodly things to human beings including China and no one has ever called for them to be removed from any rankings. The fighter should not suffer. And the fact of the matter is millions of Russians do not agree with the invasion of the Ukraine. Ultimately people are trying to make the boxers victims as well.

    Alan Swyer -- filmmaker, writer, and producer of the acclaimed El Boxeo: Despite the Kremlin's contention "that sport is beyond politics," Russia has long used athletics as a tool for propaganda. That explains why systematic doping has resulted in 46 Olympic medals stripped from Russian athletes. Russian boxers should definitely be barred from competing not just until the conflict is over, but until Russian aggression ceases.

    Peter Wood -- former boxer, writer. author, and artist: In 1980, I strongly disagreed with Jimmy Carter's decision to boycott the Moscow Olympics--the boycott was in response to the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. However, today, in 2022, the situation is much different. I strongly support barring Russian & Belarusian boxers from competition. McDonald's, Netflix, Shell, Visa, Mastercard, Adidas, AT&T, and hundreds of other major companies agree with me--they have halted business with Putin. So should the boxing community.


    Most respondents felt that the boxers should not be punished for the situation in Ukraine, but there were some strong feelings on the other side of the argument.

    How do you see it?

    Ted Sares is a member of Rings 4, 8 and 10. He is a retired competitive power lifter. He can be reached at

  • #2
    I hope no one interprets the photo of the Russian flag to be an endorsement of Putin. God forbid. I had it on the main page and then thought better of it and found something else.

    I am reminded of something that Jimmy Lennon SR once told me. Back in the 1950s, on a televised rasslin' show, he introduced a rassler as hailing from the great nation of Russia. Boy did he get hate mail and the TV station too.

    He was using the word great as in expansive, a big country land-wise, but many viewers misinterpreted. He never used that phrase again..


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Frankly, I wish you had not!!!

  • #3
    From Michael Olajide:

    "That's a really tough decision because athletes and people of purpose generally have little to do with politics. They live to compete on a global scale. But a government is only as strong as its people. if it's people say no, there is absolutely nothing any government can do to persuade its people to say yes. And it's done in the hopes of preventing war and death. It's a message to the people from the globe saying, "your country is doing something the world doesn't like and you need to know this." You cannot make a man pick up a gun unless you've convinced him of a truth or a lie. That's why freedom of press exists so no matter what, you get both sides. That's imperative, because once any government can stop "a lie" or "a truth", personal freedoms are at risk. Even if you are in agreement 100% with your government, you must be able to hear the other side otherwise again, your liberties are in danger. You may have to weed through your findings to get the truth, but the truth does exist. in order to have a strong democracy and a strong country you need to have that "in fighting" in order to stay healthy. in order to be strong. In order for a tree to grow you have to trim the hedges. For livestock to stay healthy you have to cull the herd. It's hard. It's a fight. But just know the lie is usually the low hanging fruit. The hard part is always getting to the truth, which is usually at the top of the tree. and that takes some work. So i would prefer they aren't banned for all the athletes sake. But i can understand why. lives are at stake and war is more important than any sporting competition."


    • Kid Blast
      Kid Blast commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Silk

  • #4
    "Ban them. That’s how democracy works in their country. BB." Bob Benoit


    • #5
      Correction: Ron Lipton is an inductee of the NJ and NY Boxing Halls of Fame
      Last edited by Kid Blast; 03-15-2022, 09:00 AM.


      • #6
        From Bernard Fernandez: "Here is one example of a fallacy: Yuri has freckles. Yuri is a bad guy. All guys with freckles therefore must be bad . I am not one to arbitrarily condemn someone for guilt by association, and my hypothetical Yuri for the purposes of this discussion is Russian. Being a New Orleanian by birth and upbringing, I am familiar with all the stereotypes of Southern white males; there are those who would dismiss all such individuals as racist, ignorant and any number of other uncomplimentary traits, but everyone should be judged on his or her own merits. One size does not necessarily fit all, nor should it.
        There are sanctions that justifiably are being imposed on Russia for the scurrilous actions of its power-crazed dictator, Vladimir Putin. But I have to believe many Russians are opposed to Putin's invasion of Ukraine, but are powerless to do anything about it. Perhaps they fear being shipped to a gulag in Siberia if they are too vocal in their opposition. Regarding the tiny subset of Russians that are professional boxers, it would be one thing if we could differentiate between those who are vocally endorsing their country's military subjugation of Ukraine and those who oppose Putin's actions but are nevertheless castigated because of an accident of birth . It is a fact that sanctions affect the innocent as well as the guilty, and in this instance it's all or nothing in the global effort to economically force Putin to do what he should have done in the first place. That makes for a lot of gray area to consider regarding the question of whether Dmitry Bivol should be allowed to proceed with his scheduled fight with Canelo Alvarez. I can see both sides of the issue. I absolutely want Russian forces to withdraw from Ukraine, but I'm not sure if Bivol deserves to be a pawn offered up as a sacrifice to that greater purpose. In any case, Bivol was born in Kyrgyzstan and resides in California."


        • Kid Blast
          Kid Blast commented
          Editing a comment
          I would have put Beterbiev as the cover photo. Bivol was not my choice.

      • #7
        Bivol is from Krygyzstan, not Russia. Just saying...


        • Kid Blast
          Kid Blast commented
          Editing a comment
          Bivol--yes, but this is more than him.

      • #8
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        Just so there is no confusion


        • #9
          This is conservative pundit Candace Owens. 🗣

          Just so there is no confusion. 😎
          Attached Files


          • Kid Blast
            Kid Blast commented
            Editing a comment
            Pandering for Putin is a new low.

        • #10
          Famous Civil War historian and author Willima Marvel says via email: "I was disappointed that we sent an Olympic team to so repressive and hostile a country as China. While I realize many Russians may not support the invasion, the exclusion of their athletes is a statement about their government that I think needs to be made."


          • #11
            Hi Ted,
            I agree with you on this. It would be interesting to know what the courageous current and retired elite Ukrainian boxers think about this as they risk their lives in a selfless quest to stand up to a ruthless hitlerian invasion of their homeland. Russia is essentially closed to reliable information and from what I hear the majority support Putin despite the invasion and his threat of the use of nuclear weapons. A minority of courageous Russians are protesting despite being arrested, facing 15 years imprisonment and worse. Banning all Russian athletes from competing may help to increase awareness in Russia and place some increased pressure to end the outrageous callous disregard for life and suffering inflicted on innocents by a moral corrupt leader who presents an existential threat to the world.

            John W. Stiller, M.D.
            Chief Physician and Neurologist

            Maryland State Athletic Commission


            • #12
              I am in full agreement with the esteemed Clarence George who writes: “Of course Russian and Belarusian fighters shouldn’t be banned. We don’t punish people for their nationality. As Paul Sorvino said in Goodfellas (1990), “We’re not animali.””

              No indeed we are not sir.

              I’m pleased your reply directly follows mine.



            • #13
              Former pro referee and first inductee in Marine Boxing Hall of Fame, Charlie Dwyer, says "yes" via email. He wanted to keep it brief.


              • Kid Blast
                Kid Blast commented
                Editing a comment
                love you big bull Ted! keep up the great work!


                From great friend Phil Anselmo, former front man for the famous band "Pantera." PA also was a boxing writer.

            • #14
              Johnny Tango is back and says: "I agree with Paul Magno and John DiSanto. No, politics and sports shouldn't mix. I was against the Carter Olympic games boycott in 1980. On another note, my Argentine Tango coach is from St. Petersburg, Russia and she doesn't agree with what's going on.
              Nice piece, Ted. Very thought-provoking."


              • Kid Blast
                Kid Blast commented
                Editing a comment
                'I remember back in 2010(?) talking to Alex Ramos about the '80 Olympics which was boycotted by the U.S. Ramos didn't talk much about his pro career, but he did speak about his regret regarding being unable to fight for his country in the Olympics. Johnny Tango"

            • #15
              Elite referee Louis Pabon says via Facebook: " Ted I think so the boxer is not responsibility for the Putin war. But if any boxer support Putin, not good for any competitions"