Originally created 06/05/99

FBI raids Don King's office



WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Federal agents raided the offices of boxing promoter Don King on Friday as part of an investigation into whether the IBF sold rankings and arranged fights for kickbacks.

FBI agents entered the offices of Don King Productions with empty boxes. A boxing industry source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press they were looking for records involving the International Boxing Federation, Don King Productions and Monarch Productions, a company run by King's son, Carl.

A federal grand jury in Newark, N.J., has been investigating the International Boxing Federation for several months -- even before the disputed draw in March between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, which prompted New York law enforcement agencies to start their own investigations of the IBF.

The FBI would not confirm the raid at King's office in Deerfield Beach, about 40 miles north of Miami, was linked to the IBF investigation or if the search would be completed Friday.

"The only thing I can tell you is we are serving search warrants on his offices as part of an ongoing investigation," FBI spokesman Mike Faregas said.

King spokesman Greg Fritz did not immediately return a call for comment.

A lawyer for IBF president Bob Lee Sr., said Friday he knew nothing about the FBI raid and refused to say what he knew about King's possible involvement.

On May 18, the Los Angeles Times quoted boxing promoters and managers as saying the sport's sanctioning bodies sometimes sell the rankings that lead to more lucrative bouts.

The Times reported that witnesses have testified before the federal grand jury in New Jersey that some payments to the sanctioning bodies were made in cash, but that others were less obvious, such as those contained in overpayments of standard fees.

Earlier this week, HBO president Lou DiBella denied King's assertion that a rematch was set between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis.

And sources close to the negotiations, speaking on condition of anonymity, said one of the stumbling blocks was the possibility King could be indicted.

DiBella said there were "some problematic issues that need to be worked out."

HBO has insisted King step aside as the fight promoter if he were to be indicted on charges stemming from a number of investigations, sources close to the negotiations told the AP. So far, King has refused such a clause in the contract.

Meanwhile in Newark, federal grand jurors have subpoenaed all IBF records since 1982 on rankings and contracts for fights, as well as checks, invoices, expense forms and telephone records, its attorney has said.

Federal prosecutors, citing grand jury secrecy, will not comment.

Gerald Krovatin, the lawyer for Lee, said he does not want to give "any sort of credibility" to rumors.

"Boxing itself seems to be a sport that is awash in rumors and innuendo and false allegations and rivalries and jealousies and paybacks and those sorts of things," he said.

The IBF and two other sanctioning groups -- the World Boxing Association and World Boxing Council -- set rules and rankings that play a large role in determining bouts. Boxers who defy the groups risk losing the chance to be declared a champion and earn large purses.