World Boxing News has received an explanation from Kash Ali’s legal team of their client’s behavior in a recent fight against David Price.
Outlining their defense of Ali for biting Price, Blacks Legal sent a summary of events in front of the British Boxing Board of Control.
In the full and frank statement sent to WBN on Wednesday, Ali laid the blame for his actions at the Liverpool crowd’s door.
Ali’s solicitor was adamant that the boxer would never have acted the way he did if he wasn’t subjected to ‘open racism’ from the M & S Bank Arena supporters.
Added to that, Mr. Mahtab Aziz explained that Ali was racially abused, ‘from the moment he stepped into the arena’ on the night.
The British Boxing Board of Control held a Regulation .25 hearing on April 13th with respect to the Kash Ali biting incident in his bout with David Price on 30th March 2019 at the Echo Arena Liverpool.
The fight was on the undercard of the Liam Smith v Sam Eggington main event aired live by Sky Sports TV.
The biting incident received much coverage in social media and mainstream media. With calls by ex–pro boxers and Sky Sports commentators for Kash Ali to be either handed a ban for life (Tony Bellew) or for severe punishment (Carl Froch).
The decision was formally confirmed to all parties in writing on 16th April by Mr. Les Potts Area Secretary for the BBBOC Central Area Council.
At the hearing in Bury Manchester, Kash Ali was represented by Solicitor Mr. Mahtab Aziz who has represented and advised a number of well known professional boxers. As well as high profile public figures and celebrity clients.
Mr. Ali accepted the allegation of Misconduct under Regulation 25 by biting Mr. Price in their bout. In mitigation, Mr. Aziz presented the other side of the coin‘ to the Area Council which may not have been apparent to Sky TV viewers and even other members of the audience on the night.
The Council was informed that Mr. Ali had been subjected to a barrage of racist abuse from the moment he stepped into the Echo Arena. He became a target for Price‘s Liverpool home crowd who started shouting racially offensive names. At the same time calling for him to be knocked out by Price.
Ali had never faced such open racism in all 15 of his previous professional fights. This had come as an initial shock to his system.
Even the Referee Mark Lyson‘s report he had noted that Ali appeared ‘wound up by something as he stepped into the ring and during the fight. The racial abuse continued as the fight began and through its duration. The abuse was so obvious that even the ringside Sky commentator pointed it out whilst commenting on the fight.
Footage was obtained by Mr. Aziz and played during the hearing from a ringside spectator‘s mobile in which members of the audience were clearly shouting unacceptable and shocking racist abuse at Ali as he was fighting Price.
Rotherham based lightweight boxing contender Atif Shafiq in an article appearing in the Rotherham Advertiser while supporting Ali also mentioned this when he stated “obviously he was getting abuse from the crowd. He just let everything get to him‘.
Dillian Whyte the top heavyweight boxing contender had similarly supported Mr. Ali. He vouched for his good character and stated the extreme pressures of heavyweight boxing can easily manifest itself in an out of character behaviour in the ring.
In his evidence, Mr. Ali mentioned that this was the first time he had been on the big stage before such a large audience. He only had four weeks notice and he was therefore under a lot of pressure. It was the first time he had been involved in a press conference. He had to deal with his father passing away who had always been in his corner previously and a calming presence for him.
He had never experienced such ugly and shocking racial abuse before in a walk to the ring. He confirmed that the racial abuse continued during the fight. Whilst acknowledging that Mr. Price had not been racially abusive at all it was his supporters that had been.
The frustration eventually got to him and Mr. Ali admitted biting Mr. Price in both the third and fifth rounds. He expressed great remorse . He had apologized to Mr. Price straight after the bout and in a subsequent interview.
Mr. Aziz went through a series of post-fight text messages where Mr. Ali had sincerely apologized to Mr. Price for the incident. Mr. Ali‘s apology was accepted by Mr. Price who advised that he should move on and not let it affect him.
Mr. Aziz referred to a number of articles which outlined how racism has affected and could affect an athlete‘s performance at a public event. Notably the recent controversy over the Premiership footballers being subjected to racist abuse during play. In this regard, Liverpool had particularly been singled out in one of the articles with respect to the racist chanting.
An email from Dr. Peter Olusoga a Sports Psychologist was also presented to the Council in support of the claim that racial abuse could in theory adversely affect any athlete‘s performance. Mr. Aziz informed the Council that in all previous 15 professional fights Kash Ali had exhibited exemplary professional behaviour and was at all time courteous and humble.
He agreed with Tim Witherspoon, the former WBA & WBC World Heavyweight Champion who had previously trained Mr. Ali and who had provided a letter of support in which he described Mr. Ali as ‘a very respectful and polite young man who has a great passion for boxing.
He continued: ‘I am very surprised that this happened having known Kash so well and how his personality is‘. He further added that the racial abuse was a significant factor in Mr. Ali‘s out of character behaviour that evening. This aspect was emphasized by Mr. Aziz in his mitigation.
It was explained to the Council and with all credit to Mr Ali that he had purposefully not mentioned the racial abuse at the time of his disqualification nor during the subsequent interview as he did not wish to stoke up more tension in racial relations in the community just after the event. There could have been repercussions from both sides as was seen in the aftermath of the New Zealand attack on a mosque by a racist white supremacist, where a number of mosques had been targeted in England.
It was further mentioned that for the same reasons he was advised not to mention this factor in his subsequent public apology on his Facebook page.
The Council deliberated and found that although the matter was proven they took on board that Mr. Ali had been racially abused. They expressed their clear condemnation of any expression of racism at boxing events but nevertheless the Council concluded that Mr. Ali‘s behavior was deemed to be unacceptable. That the behavior in question was exhibited at a high profile event.
Taking in to account the mitigation presented at the hearing, Mr. Ali‘s previous good character, the immediate apology and the remorse expressed during the hearing and the evidence in support, the Council directed that Mr. Ali should be fined £10,000. And suspended from boxing for six months from the date of the incident.
Of the remaining £20,000 purse, this would be returned and apportioned between Mr. Ali‘s Manager Mr. Etches and Mr. Ali himself.
Mr. Aziz is of the view that the BBBOC Central Area decision would not adversely interfere with Mr. Ali‘s future boxing plans as he had not been lined up to fight in the next six months. In any case, he could resume his training and would be able to box again from 1st October 2019.
In coming to a decision The Council had to weigh up the public interest element and any disrepute to the sport of professional boxing against his individual circumstances so some form of a short ban would have been anticipated despite the racial abuse endured by Mr. Ali. It was more important to look at the bigger picture for Mr. Ali in order that he could carry on without much disruption to his boxing career. He has a genuine passion for professional boxing as that is all that he knows. Also, he wants to go after a major heavyweight championship belt which is his dream.
He could easily have received a much longer ban as previously seen when British middleweight Adrian Dodson was banned for 18 months for biting Canadian Alain Bonnamie on the torso.
However, the mitigation put forward, in this case, assisted Mr. Ali in bringing to the attention of the Council all relevant factors before they made their decision.
To keep a fair and balanced view, World Boxing News would like to this opportunity to clarify that Editor Phil Jay was present at the M & S Bank Arena and did not hear any racial abuse aimed at Mr. Ali his position at ringside.
Observed at the time was an attack (from one person who was then ejected) once the biting had taken place and Mr. Ali was on his way back to the dressing room.
Drinks were also thrown at Mr. Ali as he made his way out of the arena to the backstage area.