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Greg Sirb’s Pennsylvania commission and how he behaves in MMA circles

By Zach Arnold | July 1, 2009

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I’ve illustrated in the past on this web site discussions about Greg Sirb and his affairs previously in boxing. Sirb’s got quite a background.

It’s a background that MMA blogs need to stop ignoring and start paying close attention to. Want some details? Read Charles Jay’s series on Sirb right here. Read the companion transcript about Greg Page at ESPN. Read it all.

Sirb has already quite a reputation, especially if you were an wrestling fan in the 90s and saw the Pennsylvania athletic commission up close and personal.

So, Mike Chiappetta’s report today, Is Cops vs. Cons MMA event a good idea in newly regulated state?, should raise some eyebrows.

This clearly isn’t the best way to market a still-growing sport in a state that just recently ratified it. Pennsylvania is one of the most recent states to regulate MMA, so this is going to be one of the first sanctioned local cards its residents hear about. There are still so many misconceptions about MMA and the supposed “bloodlust” of its fans. As a growing sport, MMA still needs to put its best foot forward as often as possible.

In June, it was Sirb and the ABC that issued a press release titled: Association of Boxing Commissions, Greg Sirb prevent a possible tragedy in the ring. It was about Sirb getting the Tim Sylvia/Ray Mercer boxing match cancelled in favor of an MMA fight where both men stood up.

So, Greg Sirb’s pounding his chest in a press release about stopping ‘a tragedy’ but a “Cops vs. Cons” MMA show gets the green light?

Here’s another headline Greg probably isn’t too thrilled with: Pennsylvania boxing commissioner Greg Sirb sued for malfeasance

Want a recent article about Sirb and his antics in MMA circles? Read this and cringe.

In a small, dimly-lit room backstage at Wisehaven, Sirb sat at a table with all his paperwork. He called in the first fighter. After that, it was his voice booming, “Next fighter!” Each fighter heard the same line, “Take off your hat, sit down!”

When fighter Kevin Flinchbaugh gave Sirb his MMA identification, Sirb took a look at it, looked at Kevin and said, “You look just like your picture, ugly as sin.”

Fighter Keith McDonald didn’t have a copy of his ID, but Sirb did. Sirb gave the paper to McDonald to make a copy from, and told him to bring the original back, “If you don’t, you’ll have a fight before you have a fight.”

The more the general public learns of Greg Sirb’s behavior, the more they will start having flashbacks to Armando Garcia and how he acted as a commissioner with certain rules and antics in California. Coincidentally, Armando Garcia was also aligned in the past with the Association of Boxing Commissions.

Let’s see if some MMA writers have the gumption to criticize Sirb like some in the boxing writing community have in the past.

There’s Greg Sirb and then there’s Nick Lembo. Quite a difference.

Topics: Boxing, Media, MMA, Zach Arnold | 11 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

11 Responses to “Greg Sirb’s Pennsylvania commission and how he behaves in MMA circles”

  1. Fluyid says:

    Let me tell you, this isn’t only a boxing problem or an MMA problem per se. This is a problem that will always pop up when small-minded people end up in jobs that give them an inflated sense of power.

    I’ve worked in and with commissions in several states, and they’re all chock full of people who feel as if their position confers upon them some type of power that makes up for something else that they’re lacking in their lives.

  2. MMAMoneyLine says:

    I am a Pennsylvanian, and we definitely don’t want this kind of business in MMA. We also need to seperate MMA from boxing and stop putting “boxing men” in positions of power.

  3. Worried4MMA says:

    I am concerned for the future of MMA in Pennsylvania if Sirb is the man commissioning MMA fights. He is unjust, and unfair. Most involved in the sport believe that he is power hungry. Unfortunately, until someone who is better suited to commission fights is found I believe any fighter who fights in PA will have a problem.

  4. Woody Kislowski says:

    Greg Sirb is one of, if not The Best Commissioner in the United States. I spent 6 years in an unofficial role as an Acting Commissioner reporting to Greg and if there is a more “squeeky clean”, by the book, safety first Commission Executive Director, I have not met him. Greg and I certainly did not aways see eye-to-eye but there is no one I’ve met in professional boxing that I have more respect for. I would submit to the posters before me that they might want to actually deal with the man prior to reaching any conclusions.

    BTW – there is an excellent and very functional reason for “take off your hat” – It’s the most common place for hiding foreign objects. At Mr. Sirb’s suggestion I did this while in my Acting Commissioner role and caught someone with a razor blade within a 1/2 dozen events after implementing the policy.

    Woody Kislowski

  5. I have been around Sirb since PA’s sanctioning, as I cover Philly MMA at, and have found him to be meticulous and thorough. He is definitely brief, sarcastic and at times his curtness borders on rudeness- all of which is exaggerated by his short stature but, from my prospective, he does a fantastic job.
    The way he dials in and nails down the nuances of each event, it is hard for me to believe he is operating under any motivation other then making sure these fights are clean, safe and entertaining. I think he really does care about the integrity of the sport.

  6. Hardik Forshorna says:

    I have had the unfortunate displeasure of dealing with this unprofessional, power hungry, ego maniac, whack job in two different mma events one in Harrisburg and one in Philadelphia. As a manager and coach I see first hand the dedication, hard work and courage that serious amateur and professional mma fighters have to possess to be successful in this game. To have a commissioner that treats these young men with such distain and disrespect is sickening. I swore I would never bring my team to PA to fight again while Sirb was commissioner after experiencing his antics first hand at a fight in Philly but because I liked the promoter putting on the event in Harrisburg so, I ignored my better judgment. Can’t say I will again.
    Yes, I have experienced thorough and meticulous with PA Boxing Commission but I have with Virginia and Delaware as well. Thorough and meticulous is what you expect from a boxing / mma commissioner because he is there to protect the heath of the fighter.

  7. Bill says:

    I ran a independent wrestling organization out of Pennsylvania and I had troubles with “MR SIRB” right from the start. He said he was keeping a close eye on me because I was only 24 and too young by his standards but by law if I came up with the 10 grand cash bond I was able to run a promotion. On my first show he gave my doctor trouble and made me travel from Philly to Harrisburg twice to meet with him before he allowed me to put on another show. Finally when I had my second show there was a man who happened to work for him at the show and Sirb grabbed him by the neck and threw him out of the arena. This guy paid for his ticket and everything. I tried to tell sirb he wasn’t allowed to do that but he just got in my face and said “I am allowed to do whatever I want”. This was funny to me cause this guy was maybe all of five foot tall and I am six foot four. This guy has the biggest Napoleon complex, he’s shorter than an oompa loompa and drunk on his own power! Now whoever this guy Woody is, you really have no clue who Greg Sirb is, I used to love running pro wrestling shows and because of Sirb I despise it!

  8. Sean Diehl says:

    I am a fighter and deal with Greg Sirb a lot. I think it’s funny that you can step in the cage get punched in the face get your limbs tweaked in ways they aren’t supposed to and go through all the grueling training leading up to a fight but you can’t take someone calling you ugly. It’s just Sirb’s persona and I think it’s a good one for the job if he was a laid back whatever guy you’d be saying well he just doesn’t care he’s gonna get someone hurt. Has Sirb ever been like this to me? Yes I can remember my first fight kind of situation like was stated above I forgot my identification copy and he told me to go get a copy or I wasn’t going to fight. At the moment yea it kind of pissed me off no one likes to be talked to like that but after I looked at the bigger picture and he was weighing us in at 10 am in Pittsburgh and then had to be in Philly by 2pm for another fight. Kind of hectic and one job I wouldn’t want to have I respect and appreciate Greg Sirb.

  9. Ken Hissner says:

    I did a story on Greg and he omitted the tough questions and even changed my title from Jekell and Hyde to what he wanted. It made for a weak story but I always give the one I interview the final look at the story. There are 2 Greg Sirbs. I believe he is more interested in MMA than boxing. Maybe because it is now the money winner. Like NJ, I believe PA should have a person in charge of boxing and another in charge of MMA. I am not fan of MMA and have been involved with boxing for over 30 years as a promoter, manager and matchmaker. Now I am an OPINIONIST. No license for that. I believe the constitution has in it a “freedom of speech” amendment and though we are losing it in this country thanks to those in charge bowing down to the liberals things only get worse. Boxing is one of them. Like a lot of things there sometimes are 2 set’s of rules and you never quite know how Sirb stands until you are on the receiving end. He tried to force me to take out a managers license “because you are doing the work of a manager”. He later informed me I was a “terrible manager”. So why force me to be one again? If I for some reason took out a manager’s license it would be revoked before the ink dries. He knows that and so do I. That is why I informed him “I would never take out a managers license in PA”. I had enough problems with the ego of former commissioner Jimmy Binns revoking a matchmakers license of mine back in the 80’s. he even suspened promoter J Russell Peltz license for 30 days after I did a study on show results because Binns felt I as a matchmaker “had too many knockouts on the show I did”. He questioned what I knew about boxing at a hearing and I told him “if you start coming to the weigh-ins maybe you’ll know something about boxing.” Good-bye matchmaker’s license. We all know what happened to Binns. He is no longer the boxing commissioner in PA. I do not know why we have 3 commissioners who sit by and collect a paycheck. Sirb to his credit does all the work. Either he is underpaid or over worked. I believe its time for the commissioners to start working or give up the posts. Chuck Bednarik is a perfect example of that. Whose seen him in the last 20 years? Yet he’s head commissioner? When my license was taken by Binns he screamed at Bednarik at a hearing after I asked “Chuck what do you have to say about this?” Binns yelled “you have nothing to say” pointing at the back of Bednariks head as it was now bowed. That isn’t the linebacker from the Eagles I once knew and respected. Let’s get rid of the dead weight. Twice Sirb has filled in for judge’s that were a no-show. I believe he puts too much pressure on them to be perfect. Some have dropped out do to it and others have been humiliated off the job. I can name several I know of. He’s certainly better than Binns but he is not the commissioner but does the work of one. Maybe he should be licensed to be head commissioner like he tries to force me to be a manager. There are too few managers in PA that give a crap about their fighters. These are usually a handfull that get their way as we call them part of the “click” in PA boxing. Sirb knows who they are and I’m not one of them. I could go on and on about some of the happenings but its like beating a dead horse. It’s a shame he doesn’t use all that energy in a more positive “Dale Carnegie” way in how he treats people. Its just not his nature. It’s like respecting someone but not liking them. We all know Philly boxing is full of them and that is why we have too few champions come out of Philly who are much better than many who have become champions from elsewhere. When you look back to the 70’s and wonder why Bobby “Boogaloo” Watts, Willie “The Worm” Monroe and Eugene “Cyclone” Hart never got a title shot though they are still legends in Philly to this day. They packed them in fighting each other but never got their shot I was told by the 3 of them when interviewed. There’s one manager whose been around “too long” who barred me from his gym and along with his promoter son had me removed from a weigh-in that I came to trying to purchase a ticket though part of the media. We all know who they are in Philly yet they got away with it inspite of my asking Sirb for help. He said “they rented the building”. At the next show he got hot with me and denied saying it. Then threatened to bar me from press row. 10 minutes later he was as nice as can be. You never know when the axe will fall if you are working the show as an official or at press row as all us writers know. Life is too short to put so much stress on people but that’s the problem when there are “appointments” by political hacks who know nothing about boxing. It’s like comparing Obama to Cain. One claimed to be something he wasn’t when running while the other has been a real “community organizer”. Ask 500 Burger Kings in Philly and numerous Godfather Pizzerias in Atlanta.

  10. Concerned Citizen says:

    It was interesting to read (in the transcript of an interview linked to this page) Mr. Sirb’s thoughts on the need for new and stronger laws to protect fighters. His words stand in sharp contrast to his actions as a member of the local zoning board, where he has no problem ignoring the laws to suit his purposes. It is disappointing to see any person abuse his power. The world has too many bullies. Sadly, Mr. Sirb’s words and actions can be characterized as bullying. If you doubt this check the public record and see for yourself.

  11. My name is Alan SantaAnna, and I am the North American Coordinator for the WBF. I too have had dealings with Mr. Greg Sirb, and I was warned prior to my arriving in Dover Delaware, to watch out for this guy, because he has a reputation that was ruthless. When I first met Mr. Sirb, right off the bat I could tell that he was a control freak, and had to be in charge every step of the way. He was loud and obnoxious for a man that stood no taller than 5’4″.

    He was rude and very unprofessional to everyone and he pulled no punches with his use of the four letter word and foul language that came out of his mouth. I have dealt with several boxing commissioners all around the country and none would be able to stand up to Mr. Sirb. He has literally aloud his position to go to his head and act like a mad who is completely lost touch with man kind.

    He belittles everyone around him, including the Supervisor for the WBC, to which I personally witnessed Mr. Sirb attacking the Supervisor verbally at ringside during the fights. He proceeded to tell the Supervisor, and I quote “This is not Mexico, and you can take your title belt, and get you ass out of here and go else where. There were other expletives that were thrown at this Supervisor, all while being witnessed by the President of Dover Downs Casino.

    He also verbally attacked a fighter who was going to be on the card, for not having a copy of his license with him. Mr. Sirb once again in classic fashion went on a verbal attack and rant, all while in front of an ESPN Camera Crew. Very unprofessional conduct for a man who is in a appointed position.

    Boxing already gets a bad rap, and having Gentleman, like Mr. Sirb involve (and I use that term loosely) will only continue to harm the sport, and not do it any good in my opinion. We need to rid the sport of a cancer like Mr. Sirb in order to elevate the sport, not demean or lower it. These positions, in boxing need to be filled by competent people who not only know the business of boxing, but also know how to run a business, and have a back round in business management.
    Mr. Sirb, will surely meet his match one day and when he does he will need to take a step back and realize that he has been the luckiest man on the face of this earth for being aloud to be put in a position, that was not meant to be abused by his so called power, but to help boxers, promoters and anyone else out in the sport that was just looking for a little direction. I hope that we find this person very soon.

    Alan SantaAnna
    WBF North American Supervisor Coordinator


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