Not again! Andy Foster/California State Athletic Commission approved booking of 60 year old, 200-pound female boxer who got rocked
By Zach Arnold | March 27, 2016
“That is one heavy chick! 295 pounds!” … “That is absolutely awesome! 59 years of age! This is legendary!”
Nearly two years ago, we wrote a controversial article about Keela Byrd Byars, a late 50-something 200-pound boxer who had been trying for years to get licensed by the California State Athletic Commission. She could never administratively get licensed by the state of California.
Her luck changed when Andy Foster and the California State Athletic Commission board granted her a temporary license.
In May of 2014, Keela Byars fought a four-round fight for promoter Ed Holmes of All-Star Boxing in Southern California against a 40-something female boxer who was nearly 300 pounds. Watch Keela Byrd Byars’ debut fight. She shouldn’t have won a single round. Three California judges (Pat Connolly 40-36, David Denkin & Donald Howard 39-37) ended up giving her a unanimous decision. Even the announcers couldn’t spin it.
“I almost wanted one of Keela’s right hands to just connect just to stun her back a little bit.”
Byars could barely hit a 300-pound target in four rounds. The video speaks for itself.
Two years later, Byars — now allegedly in her 60s, was booked for an Ed Holmes All-Star Boxing event on Saturday night at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel against a 9-6 fighter named Laura Ramsey (age 46). This was Byars second ever fight in California and she lost.
Laura Ramsey Kos Keela Byars in rd 4 in female heavyweight bout. Byars is 60 years old 1-1 record. She leaves to cheers. #boxing
— David Avila (@AvilaBoxing) March 27, 2016
We received communication, unsolicited, from people at the show on Saturday night who were absolutely appalled by what they were seeing. The referee for the fight was Jack Reiss. What an grossly unfair situation to put him in.
Take note of this comment at The Sweet Science:
One guesses that the California commission consented to license a 60-year-old woman for fear of legal reprisals if they turned her application down. In our litigious society, the scent of trial lawyers lurking about often dictates the actions of government bureaucrats. In theory, denying Keela Byars a boxing license would have opened up the state to a lawsuit on grounds of age and/or gender discrimination. (There are two attorneys on the California commission, Martha Shen-Urquidez and Mary Lehman, the latter of whom is a former professional boxer.) It should also be noted that the commission promised to be extremely vigilant in seeing that Ms. Byars was properly matched.
The athletic commission has every right to reject a fighter based on health & safety grounds, especially someone who is in their late 50s/early 60s and HAS NEVER FOUGHT PROFESSIONALLY BEFORE. In Nevada, fighters over the age of 35 are required to petition the commission for approval. Standard operating procedure. Athletic commissions also are supposed to send officials to check out current skill levels during sparring in order to prevent massacres from happening in the ring or cage.
In other words, a racial or gender discrimination lawsuit by a licensee against the state of California would go nowhere. It would require filing a claim with the Government Claims Board. If they rejected, then you would likely petition for a writ of mandate given that it’s a licensing issue rather than a workplace/employee issue. The cost of bringing such litigation would have likely stopped a person in their tracks, especially since you have to pay attorneys up front for writ of mandates in hopes of getting your fees on the back-end if you prevail. It would simply have been easier to go to another state, with a terrible athletic commission, to get licensed to fight.
But why go to another state when California is ready to license you? Take note of what was stated in official California State Athletic Commission documentation in May of 2014:
- Andy Foster recommended the Athletic Commission grant Keela Byrd Byars a license.
- Andy Foster approved the booking of Keela Byrd Byars’ first fight nearly two years ago. At the age of 59.
- Andy Foster approved the booking of Keela Byrd Byars’ second fight last night. She is now 60.
- Promoter Ed Holmes booked Keela Byars for both of her California fights.
You want to talk about lawsuit fears from a licensee? Forget an age or gender discrimination lawsuit. Lawsuits from licensees that state athletic commissions worry about? Wrongful death & negligence/duty of care lawsuits. Combat sports are legally classified as ultrahazardous for good reason.
Exit question: How will an athletic commission like California respond to a lengthy Nevada suspension of promoter Roy Englebrecht for perjury/forgery (acts of moral turpitude) if they don’t care about integrity in boxing? It’s time for the Department of Consumer Affairs to step in and read the riot act before things completely spin out of control.