Friday, October 15, 2010
C.A. Upholds Revocation of Boxing Champion Margarito’s License
Justices Say Fighter Strictly Liable for Trainer’s Use of Illegal Hand Wraps
By KENNETH OFGANG, Staff Writer
The revocation of former world welterweight champion Antonio Margarito’s boxing license was affirmed yesterday by this district’s Court of Appeal.
Div. Two, in an opinion by Justice Victoria Chavez, said the Boxing Act allows the State Athletic Commission to apply strict liability, holding a fighter responsible for rules violations by his trainer. The act, which embraces several sections of the Business and Professions Code, empowers the commission to enact and enforce rules governing professional boxing in the state.
Margarito, a 32-year-old Torrance native, has insisted that he had no knowledge of, and did not condone, the use of a plaster-like substance to wrap his hands for his fight in January of last year at Staples Center in Los Angeles against Shane Mosley. As trainer Javier Capetillo was wrapping Margarito’s hands, Mosley’s trainer asked the boxing inspectors to look at a pre-made gauze “knuckle pad.”
Noting that the pad seemed unusually hard, and that its inner layers were discolored, the inspectors then looked at the gauze insert in Margarito’s already wrapped right hand. They found a similar improperly hardened pad, and ordered both pads confiscated.
After his hands were re-wrapped, Margarito went ahead with the fight, losing on a technical knockout in the fifth round. At a subsequent administrative hearing, Capetillo—a trainer for 38 years, including 11 with Margarito, said he “made a big mistake” and used the wrong wraps.
The commission unanimously found that Margarito’s hand wraps were adulterated in violation of the commission’s professional boxing Rule 323, which specifies what materials may be used to wrap a boxer’s hands and how they may be applied. Among other things, the rule says that hands may be wrapped with “soft surgical bandage not over two inches wide,” held in place only by surgical tape, with no more than 20 yards of bandage and 10 yards of tape used to wrap each hand.
The commission also found that Margarito’s license was subject to revocation under Rule 390, which allows discipline for conduct that violates state law or the boxing rules, or when a fighter “conducts himself or herself at any time or place in a manner which is deemed...to reflect discredit to boxing.” His license was revoked, along with Capetillo’s, subject to possible reinstatement after one year.
Most boxing authorities in the United States honor each other’s license suspensions and revocations, but Margarito was able to obtain a Texas license and is scheduled to fight Manny Pacquaio at Cowboys Stadium Nov. 13 for the World Boxing Council super welterweight championship.
In petitioning the Los Angeles Superior Court to set aside the California revocation, Margarito contended that the rules do not allow the commission to impose strict liability on a fighter for a trainer’s violations, and that he was deprived of due process because the hearing notice focused on the contention that he knowingly violated Rule 323, not on whether he was strictly liable for a violation by Capetillo.
Judge David Yaffe denied the writ, saying there was no evidence that Margarito “was mischarged or misinformed about what he was being charged with” and that his license “can be revoked for his violation of the hand wrap rule whether [Margarito] knew what his trainer was doing or not.”
Chavez, writing yesterday for the Court of Appeal, said Yaffe was correct.
“Neither rule 323 nor rule 390 contains qualifying language such as ‘knowingly’ or ‘intentionally.’ The absence of such qualifying language indicates the Commission did not intend guilty knowledge or intent to be elements of a violation....The Commission’s interpretation is also consistent with its statutory duty to make protection of the public its ‘highest priority.’...Section 18602.1 expressly provides that ‘[w]henever the protection of the public is inconsistent with other interests sought to be promoted, the protection of the public shall be paramount.’”
As for the due process argument, the justice said the hearing notice, which informed Margarito that he was subject to possible discipline because of his “recent participation in what appears to be a violation of rule 323,” sufficiently advised him as to what he was being accused of. Administrative hearing notices, Chavez said, do not have to be as specific as pleadings in litigation to pass muster under the due process clauses.
The justice distinguished Smith v. State Bd. of Pharmacy (1995) 37 Cal.App.4th 229, which held that the board could not, after summoning a pharmacist to a hearing on whether he had personally dispensed controlled substances, discipline him for negligently supervising other employees.
The Court of Appeal in that case agreed with the pharmacist that if he had been advised of the negligence allegation, he could have called an expert to testify as to the standard of care.
In Margarito’s case, however, the commission informed him of the specific violation, his counsel was able to argue against strict liability, and there was no contention that he would have presented additional evidence if the notice had specified that a strict liability standard would be applied, Chavez reasoned.
The case is Margarito v. State Athletic Commission, B220649.
Copyright 2010, Metropolitan News Company