How do you lose a $1million from a boxing pension fund?

Paying customers in the state of California have been financing a boxing pension fund for over four decades. Over the course of those four decades, the majority of boxers who fought in the state didn’t know they had a pension owed to them and never collected on it.

So, where did the money go?

In a series of recent LA Times articles by Melody Gutierrez, it turns out that an investigative reporter had little problem finding retired boxers who were owed cash by the state. Consumer Affairs, the giant Sacramento behemoth that controls the California State Athletic Commission, was absolutely embarrassed and humiliated by what the Times unearthed.

For many retirees who could have used the money and are now on social services, they’re damned if they collect and they’re damned if they don’t collect. Why? Because many retired fighters happen to be on social services and any sort of increase in income can get their services cut off.

[Alex] Ramos himself, though, has yet to benefit. He is owed $13,000 from the California Professional Boxers’ Pension Plan. It’s money he says he needs, but collecting the funds has posed a dilemma.

The plan offers lump-sum payouts, which would make him ineligible for Supplemental Security Income benefits that pay for his assisted-living facility in West Hills.

“A pension plan should take care of you for life,” said Ramos, who has several medical conditions, including dementia pugilistica, a type of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, linked to repeated head trauma.

The Los Angeles Times

Serious questions have been raised about the state’s planned MMA fighter pension

For anyone who has ever been a caregiver or has had to handle family affairs in probate court, Probate 101 says you have a duty of loyalty and care to any trust. Priority number one is finding everyone owed money. That has not been a successful venture for the trustee known as the state of California.

That breach of duty raises some significant foreseeable issues as the state pursues a new pension for MMA fighters. In our upcoming long-form Bloody Elbow article about both the state boxing and MMA pensions, we will take a look at how extensive the legal problems are for the state and why so much money is missing. How could you lose millions of dollars? And who benefited politically from this mess?

Bloody Elbow’s special investigation into California’s controversial boxing pension fund, and how it might be adapted to MMA, can be read on the Bloody Elbow Substack page starting Monday, June 12.

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About the author
Zach Arnold
Zach Arnold

Zach Arnold first started writing about combat sports in 1996. He is a veteran professional wrestling and Mixed Martial Arts writer who frequently covered both the California and Nevada athletic commissions starting in 2010. His archived writings can be found at Fight Opinion.

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