November 11, 1999
By Joe Bruno
Former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and the International
Boxing Writers Association
Boxing Writers Assaulted
This one is hitting a little too close to home and I just don't like it.
In two separate incidents, two boxing writers were assaulted, and it's
time for the press community to fight back. The first one took place on the
undercard of the Don King promoted Julio Caesar Chavez-Willie Wise fight at
the Las Vegas Hilton. Photojournalist Mary Ann Owen was on the ring apron
taking pictures of Christy Martin, when Martin turned and took a swing at
her, almost knocking Owen off the ring apron. The incident was caught by the
Showtime TV cameras. Owen, a striking blond, is a 56 year-old correction
officer in Las Vegas. She works for RingSports, Chicago Boxing Magazine,
Boxing World and LadySports Magazine. Martin's actions were totally
unprovoked. Owen complained to the Vegas boxing commission and a summons was
drawn up to be sent to Martin at her home.
Mary Ann Owen
The second incident took place on an Indian reservation at the Pechanga
Entertainment Center in Temecula, CA. Mel Baron a photojournalist for Gaming
Today and Ring Sports was punched in the face by a Pechanga hired PR man
ex-fighter Ricky Salazar. After Salazar assaulted Baron as Baron was snapping
pictures of a fighter, Salazar and Jeanne Miranda, the Pechanga promotion
director, yelled "get the camera" to the security guards as they were taking
Baron past former boxing commissioner Marty Denkin. Outside the building,
security took Baron's camera and then asked him for his ID. They left Baron
with a security guard for twenty minutes, then gave Baron the camera back,
with the film missing. Baron tried to have an assault and battery report
written up then, but the security guards said the commission was closed and
would not open till Monday. Baron was then directed to "go to a telephone
and call the Riverside County Sheriff."
An assault on the press is an assault on the First Amendment, and a punch
in the face to every writer and photographer just trying to do their job.
Swift action must be taken against the perpetrators. If these incidents are
swept under boxing's filthy rug, sports writers should unite and uniformly
boycott all boxing matches at the Pechanga and the Las Vegas Hilton. Hit back
where it hurts them the most; in their wallets. Let's see how many tickets
the promoters can sell if the press acts like their fights just don't exist.
I can just see Don King's spiked hair deflating at the thought.