ELIZABETH, N.J. (CN) - The International Boxing Federation fired its ratings chairman after he protested that a co-worker "was accepting money from a promoter in return for illegally elevating a fighter into the Top 10 rankings," the former official claims in court.
William James sued the International Boxing Federation in Union County Court.
James, who says he worked at IBF for two years, claims he learned in 2011 that boxer Luis Franco had been ranked in IBF's Top 10, though he "did not meet the criteria to be ranked in the Top 10."
James says he quickly informed IBF CEO Daryl Peoples that this ranking was "illegal" and was "in violation of the Muhammad Ali Act of 2000."
The Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform Act was enacted by Congress because the sport had no organized league or rulemaking body to ensure appropriate business practices, and its sanctioning bodies inadequately protected boxers.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, the purpose of the Act is "to ensure the safety and promote the welfare of professional boxers by eliminating dishonest transactions," "to provide help to State Boxing Commissions in regulating boxing events and boxing ratings" and "to promote the sport of boxing honestly and mandate organization and business of the sport."
James claims in his complaint that ratings consultant Anibel Miramontes was responsible manipulating Luis Franco's ranking.
The only defendant in the case is the IBF. James claims the IBF hired Miramontes as a ratings consultant in June 2012, "in direct disregard of the articles of incorporation, which require board approval."
He claims he "learned that Luis Franco was being promoted by Gary Shaw, who had been providing money to Anibel Miramontes' business known as Fight Fax."
When James reported this to CEO Peoples, he says, he was "ignored," so he "informed [the IBF's] board of directors of the illegal activity and asked that they take action to stop it."
James claims the issue was never resolved and that in May 2012, he "again objected to David McCullough, treasurer and board member, about the illegal activity involving Luis Franco."
He says he asked McCullough what IBF was planning to do about Miramontes violating the law and about Peoples allowing the law to be broken.
He says, "Mr. McCullough informed plaintiff that 'if you don't keep your mouth shut, we are going to fire you.'"
So, James says, he told McCullough that "he did not want to work for a company that was corrupt."
James says he was fired in June 2012 by Peoples and other officials at IBF "without any warning," on grounds that he "lived too far away."
He seeks punitive damages for retaliation.
He is represented by Thomas McKinney with Castronovo & McKinney of Morristown, N.J.
The IBF is one of four major organizations recognized by the International Boxing Hall of Fame, which sanctions world championship boxing bouts.
Critics have long said that the sport allows the four sanctioning bodies to exist solely to juice the box office, so it can promote more championship bouts. The four groups are the World Boxing Association, the World Boxing Council, the International Boxing Federation, and the World Boxing Organization.
The founder of the IBF, Bob Lee Sr., resigned as its president in 1999 after being convicted of racketeering, including taking bribes in exchange for high rankings.
IBF's website states that its principal goal "has always been to give talented and aspiring professional boxer in the United States and throughout the world the chance of making a name for themselves by publicly recognizing their talents. The organization's unbiased ratings system has contributed to the growth, longevity and continued success of professional boxing worldwide."