By Zach Arnold | July 9, 2013
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The era of Ernest “Che” Guevara will soon be ending.
Guevara, the major power player at the California State Athletic Commission for many years, entered a resignation letter. Guevara was the henchman for the bureaucratic behemoth known as the Department of Consumer Affairs in Sacramento, an outpost featuring some of the craziest political animals you have ever seen. It’s practically a revolving door for cronies affiliated to powerful politicians in both the state Assembly and state Senate (plus the Governor’s office). All of the political interfering over the years with CSAC has to do with major politicians who micromanaged a lowly athletic commission into the mess that it was in when Andy Foster took over.
Here is the statement from Andy Foster, acting Executive Officer of CSAC:
Che Guevara has turned in his resignation as Chief Athletic Inspector effective August 6th. I am hopeful that this transition process will be smooth and we will see minimal operational deficiencies. The Commission is very appreciative of the service Che has provided. I will personally miss Che at the office, and I wish him much success in his future endeavors.
Here is the text of Guevara’s letter:
July 5, 2013
Ernest Che Guevara
[address & private information redacted]
SUBJECT: RESIGNATION OF CHE GUEVARA AS CHIEF ATHLETIC INSPECTOR OF THE CALIFORNIA STATE ATHLETIC COMMISSION
Executive Officer Andy Foster,
I write to you to publically announce my resignation from my position as Chief Athletic Inspector (CAI) of the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC), effective August 6, 2013.
I would like to formally express my appreciation and gratitude to the staff, officials, and inspectors who have always demonstrated the utmost professionalism, respect and kindness towards me. And for continuing the good fight of making combat sports, in California, safe and fair for all who compete.
I would also like to extend my thanks to Chairman John Frierson, past and present Commission members, Department of Consumer Affairs, and specifically Executive Officer Andy Foster.
With the continued leadership of Andy Foster and entire California State Athletic Commission I am confident CSAC will continue to lead as the safest Athletic Commission in combat sports.
If I can be of any help during this transition, please let me know.
cc: Commission members, Supervising Attorney General Karen Chappelle, Director Denise Brown
Now, what are the implications of this development? There’s a lot to discuss here.
The back story
When George Dodd was forced out by DCA big wigs from his position as Executive Officer, Che Guevara reportedly believed that he had a shot at getting the job. When that didn’t happen, Andy Foster ended up being picked by DCA. The commission stamped DCA’s approval after a job interview and Foster got the gig.
A couple of months into his position, Foster took away a healthy portion of Guevara’s job power and handled duties himself. This left Guevara as a paper pusher in the Sacramento office. Then Foster put Guevara to use by flying him out across the state to various fighting events to do his job as a lead inspector.
Combine these factors with the scenario of a hostile political climate in Sacramento regarding the shape the commission is in along with Guevara’s biggest backers in DCA keeping a hands-off approach and it led to the situation we have today. Sure, Guevara could have kept his $60,000/year job with state benefits. However, he didn’t see a path for accumulating political power and the job simply became too much of a hassle.
What’s next for Guevara
For months, there have been rumors that Che believes he can get a job with Golden Boy and that he could somehow work alongside Oscar De La Hoya friends Eric Gomez & Armando Gaytan. Whether that happens remains to be seen. It’s believed that Guevara will get back into the managing fold in California for boxers. Perhaps he will be a go’fer/conduit for Golden Boy in getting local fighters in exchange for a cut of the action. Perhaps there is a role for him given changes recently made at Golden Boy HQ.
What’s next for the California State Athletic Commission
The way the Department of Consumer Affairs has treated CSAC has been deplorable. The commission doesn’t have a FAX line. There are now four workers left in the front office. Everyone is completely maxed out over paperwork and politics. The burn out factor is incredible. It’s the most thankless job one could have in combat sports. The amount of shows that take place in California dwarfs any other state. In fact, it may be safe to say given the current event schedule that California has as much activity as the other major players combined.
What makes Guevara’s exit complicating for the California commission is that he was “the boxing guy.” Andy Foster is an MMA guy. MMA is his passion. It’s the sport he knows. Boxing is not a sport he knows. It’s not his passion. That’s not to say that Andy doesn’t want the big boxing events nor does it mean that he doesn’t want to deal with the major promoters. Far from it, he wants action. However, he’s not equipped to fully understand everything entailed with matchmaking or politics for boxing. Boxing, in California, is the driver of revenue for the athletic commission. California is the most active commission in the United States and boxing is a key factor. In other states, MMA is the main player now. In California, boxing is king. With Guevara out of the loop in the front office, the reaction from the major promoters in boxing will be very interesting. There are already two camps of thought being formulated. Camp A believes that it will be easier for promoters to get away with booking huge mismatches and scamming fighters with someone like Foster in charge because he isn’t a boxing-first guy and wants to keep promoters happy. Camp B believes that some key promoters will take a step back now from the state given that an MMA man is in charge and they’re not sure how it is going to politically play out.
One person who is a big winner in Andy Foster’s growth in political power is Danny Goossen. After Andre Ward and his camp attempted to get out of a Goossen contract based on flimsy accusations, Goossen won arbitration. Goossen wants to promote in California. Ward has largely fought in California. Whether Top Rank or other parties were behind Ward’s attempt to get away from Goossen, who the hell knows. However, as long as the Ward/Goossen marriage lasts, it means big fights in California. I would likely expect to see Top Rank play ball and get Ward vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. booked in California instead of Nevada. Texas would be the only alternative but California makes more sense.
As for CSAC’s front office, words cannot describe how deplorable the situation is right now (thanks to the Department of Consumer Affairs). The stress level is insane. The state budget limits being imposed now on the commission make Andy Foster’s job that much more difficult. It’s an incredible tightrope he is having to walk. The chaos is intense.
What it means for the Department of Consumer Affairs and big-name politicians in Sacramento
I can safely predict that the next year is going to be hell for a lot of key political players in the DCA food chain who have been involved in some of the biggest scandals regarding the athletic commission. There will be more firings and resignations to come. The difference is that the names will involve political animals rather than people who players in the combat sports scene know about.
If I’m Doreathea Johnson, the nitwit in charge of DCA’s legal department, I’m starting to get nervous right now… and for damn good reason.
A lot of skeletons are about to come out of the closet. There are quite a few people inside of DCA who are ready to turn on the higher-ups in the organization. Serious names at stake here, too. It will not just play out in the court system but also through the press. Expect major developments that will further highlight what kind of disintegration DCA has caused with the California State Athletic Commission.
There will be public embarrassment coming on a big level unless major financial payoffs occur. This much I am confident about.
The reaction internally amongst those who work for the commission and those in Sacramento regarding Guevara’s resignation fell into two categories. Camp A had some sympathy for his plight but weren’t really backing him, just more understanding of him than the current crop of Sacramento politicians. Camp B, which is the majority, hates Guevara and what he represented. However, you won’t find many people today throwing a party or celebrating this development. The takeaway from both camps on the issue is that if Guevara, a diehard lifer who destroyed people like Dean Lohuis and Mike Bray, is quitting then the Titanic really is sinking and the conditions are much worse than previously believed.