Discontent with the WBC and the WBA is worldwide and smoldering, but only one man has dared to fight back. Promoter Teddy Brenner has brought an antitrust suit against the WBC and its president. Jos� Sulaim�n. The case is scheduled to go to trial April 7 in the U.S. district court for the Southern District of New York. A decision for Brenner could cost the WBC $3 million in damages. More important, the suit seeks the dismantling of the 18-year-old organization that has come to control the lion's share of world boxing. If it loses the case, the WBC will cease to operate, at least in the U.S. And without U.S. dollars, which make up approximately 80% of its income, the WBC would revert to its small-time pre-1977 status.
Brenner's action, which is being handled by the New York law firm of Coudert Brothers, is similar to the antitrust suit brought by the U.S. in the mid-'50s to smash the International Boxing Club. A gangster-controlled fight empire fronted by millionaire Jim Norris, the IBC was reduced to ashes when it was found in violation of the Sherman Act for engaging in a conspiracy to control world championship fights.
Originally Brenner's suit charged that Sulaim�n: 1) ignored an exclusive contract Brenner had with Alexis Arguello, then the WBC junior lightweight champion; 2) illegally ordered Arguello to fight for no one but promoter Don King; and 3) without cause or hearing prohibited Brenner from promoting WBC championship fights.
Issue No. 3 was resolved last May. After Brenner had asked for a temporary injunction against the WBC in the same district court, Sulaim�n said he no longer had any objection to Brenner if Brenner paid his WBC fees, proved he was a licensed promoter and followed all WBC rules and regulations.
That was but a small fire fight. The big battle is the antitrust suit coming up.
"We won every point today," Brenner said after the 1980 hearing. "But this case has nothing to do with the other. Just because Sulaim�n says I can now promote WBC title fights doesn't alter the fact that I lost a chance to promote five Arguello fights, four of them for a title, while I was suspended."
In his suit, Brenner has also charged: "Defendants and their co-participants have coerced contenders for the title, as a condition of being afforded an opportunity to compete for the title, to enter into contracts with favored promoters, providing that, should he win the title he would render his services as a professional boxer in title contests exclusively to the favored promoter."
And "...defendants have manipulated the ratings by adding or by advancing the names of boxers indentured by multiple-bout service contracts with favored promoters, in order to enable favored promoters to obtain an anticompetitive commercial advantage...."
Sulaim�n has denied all of Brenner's charges. He has also hinted that the suit really doesn't matter. "The WBC is above the law—that is, any law but its own," Sulaim�n has said. If it's Sulaim�n's defense that the WBC is above the law, he is riding a leaky boat. And April is a month known for heavy rains.