Limpag: Journalism, judging and ethics

Fair play

THOUGH most media outfits, or writers even, give their own scores in fights they cover as part of their story, rare is a writer whose other job is to actually judge a fight. I only know of one guy who was both a boxing judge and a writer, Salven Lagumbay but I don’t remember him writing about his scores or writing about the fights he judged. Salven, I think, eventually stopped writing and concentrated on judging.

Being a boxing writer, you get to mingle with promoters and fighters but being a boxing judge, ethics dictate that you shouldn’t, right? That issue is being raised right now as boxing officials in both Cebu and Manila have filed a petition in the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) against judge Carlos Costa, who is also a boxing writer.

The last time I met Costa, he was introduced as a passionate fan so I was surprised that he is now a judge and a writer. The conflict of interest is glaring in being both as being a judge means to avoid mingling with boxers and promoters and being a writer means, you need to mingle.

But it’s not only that aspect the Manila and Cebu officials have raised. They also questioned Costa’s acting as a cornerman for a visiting fighter and as interpreter for Hispanic fighters.

If you’re identified and licensed as a judge, prudence dictates that you shouldn’t attach yourself to a boxing team, right? And being a cornerman, or even just playing as an interpreter, will certainly identify one as being affiliated with a team, which isn’t good for one who is supposed to be neutral.

His peers have also accused Costa of lobbying for fight assignments and I think this is what led to the petition. Most of these judges have day jobs but earn extra from their passion whenever they get assigned to judge fights. Losing an assignment because of lobbying, stinks. And besides, a judge shouldn’t lobby for a fight, right?

Most of the boxing judges I know are highly ethical. Before, whenever there were controversial decisions, I’d ask them to comment and they’d beg off, saying ethics dictate that they don’t comment on the scores of other judges.

And I hope GAB, under reformist chairman Baham Mitra, encourages ethical practices. They started the cleansing process when they exposed that practice of promoters using fake CT scans so fighters could get a clearance and I hope they handle this questions on a judge’s ethics seriously.

Remember, just recently, they questioned the decision of a fight in Thailand, one that led to a rematch. If a disgruntled promoter or fighter wants to put a monkey wrench in the GAB operations, all they have to do is question the integrity of Costa’s decisions and cite that his own peers have questioned it.

If Costa wants to continue being a writer, he can do so but if he wants to continue to be a judge, then one persona must give way.

GAB is in a tricky situation. I think this is the first time a matter like this has been raised and I hope the agency will arrive at the right solution, one that discourages situations like these.


SunStar website welcomes friendly debate, but comments posted on this site do not necessarily reflect the views of the SunStar management and its affiliates. SunStar reserves the right to delete, reproduce or modify comments posted here without notice. Posts that are inappropriate will automatically be deleted.

Forum rules:

Do not use obscenity. Some words have been banned. Stick to the topic. Do not veer away from the discussion. Be coherent. Do not shout or use CAPITAL LETTERS!