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Joe Dwyer: Boxing Guy
by Bernie McCoy
June 30, 2009


(JUNE 30)  Joe Dwyer is a boxing guy. This may seem to be a blinding flash of the obvious, given Dwyer's history as a top ranked Golden Gloves fighter, his long tenure as a New York State boxing judge and his lengthy service to the sport, including, most recently, with the World Boxing Council. And add in the fact that in early June, Dwyer succeeded to the presidency of the North American Boxing Federation. Many people have had a lot of jobs over a lot of years in the sport and far too many of them have either appropriated or had conferred upon them the sobriquet, boxing guy. In reality, it's a much more select group, limited to those few who, when they speak of the sport of boxing, they are listened to, fully and completely, and with good reason, they know what they're talking about. When asked a question, they give an answer as straight as a perfect jab and with just as little wasted rhetorical motion. Boxing guys are, in a word common to the gyms and arenas where boxing is always a serious topic, "legit." Joe Dwyer is a boxing guy.

Thus, it's good news for the sport of boxing and even better news for the NABF that Joe Dwyer has a new job. It probably means better days ahead for the organization and it's sport, and, by extension, it could be a good sign for the sport of Women's boxing. "I'm an advocate of the (women's) sport, " Dwyer told me on the phone last week from his Long Island home. "In the late 90s, when I was with the IWBF, I worked with Frankie G (Globoshutz) promoting female fights in New York, featuring Denise Moraetes, Kathy Collins and a number of other very talented women. I continue to believe in the sport and take that view with me to my new job."

At this point, it might be time for some writerly cynicism. Over ten years ago, Jose Suliaman, on the occasion of the WBC (parent of the NABF) entry into the sport of Women's boxing, stated, "Female boxing is a growing sport" and Suliaman continued, stating that his organization planned to be "fully involved (in female boxing) throughout the world." If one were asked to grade the WBC, thus far, on their "involvement," the organization would probably merit a "gentleman's C." In point of fact, smaller sanctioning organizations have been considerably more involved in female boxing than the WBC and the NABF. And, for those ten years, the sport has not moved forward, particularly in the US, at the pace it would have been fair to project those ten years ago. This, despite the fact that the majority of the expanding talent pool of female fighters continues to be concentrated in this country. Is this, solely, the fault of the WBC and the NABF? No! But when high hopes fail to come to fruition, it's natural to look to the top; and, in the sport of boxing, the WBC occupies the top spot.

Joe Dwyer remains convinced that the female sport maintains the potential for healthy future growth and backs that opinion by pointing to countries where the sport and the WBC have achieved notable success. He further notes that even in this country, the sport has had pockets of success, although Dwyer will concede that success has been limited geographically and largely concentrated in terms of select female fighters. He is, likewise, firmly convinced that the sport of Women's boxing, particularly in the US, has to go forward on a sport-wide basis, not just in selected geographic areas. Not surprisingly, Dwyer has very specific strategy to accomplish that forward movement for the sport within the framework of the organization he now heads. "It's really all about making good fights between talented female boxers and I don't mean making fights for the sake of filling out a card with women. I mean making quality bouts with quality fighters. Quality instead of quantity will the watchword as far as the NABF and Women's boxing is concerned. That will be our major emphasis and I've told those who are going to lead the effort, including Jill Diamond, who's been fully involved in the female sport for several years, that I've got their back as far as "green lighting" good female bouts, anytime, anywhere under the auspices of the NABF. And, conversely, if a bout doesn't live up to that quality label then I'm behind them 1,000 percent when they turn it down on behalf of the NABF and me."

Dwyer also fully recognizes the on-going "rap" on the NABF: it's a regional (North America) not a world wide organization. But once more, he comes back to the concept of quality fights. "If we put on good female bouts and we certainly have the potential to do that, I'm not sure the fight fan really cares about what the letters are on the belt, particularly, if they've just watched two skilled female fighters put on eight or ten rounds of great boxing. And, by the way, the NABF has long been a stepping stone up to WBC titles. Muhammad Ali, Ray Leonard and Ken Norton were all NABF champions, on their way to world titles. And on the female side, Carina Moreno, one of the best female boxers in the world, has worn the NABF belt. Good quality fights will take that ' regional title ' issue right off the table. And that's what we'll be looking for, going forward, good fights between good female fighters.

In his new position, Joe Dwyer will be primarily concerned with the male aspect of the sport, since that is the largest part of of boxing for any organization like the NABF. However, as Dwyer has said, he has personnel, within the NABF, who have been integrally involved in the female sport, notably, Jill Diamond, who has established herself as a "go-to" source for the current crop of professional female boxers. Will the NABF lead a turnaround of the sport of Women's boxing in this country? That's probably too big a charge for any one organization. The goal, more realistically, should be small steps of improvement in the sport, particularly in this country, particularly matching the best fighters in the sport with each other. But improvement of any kind would be a welcome change from the recent past.

Joe Dwyer says all the right things and as you listen to him over the phone, you start to believe that he knows what needs to be done and that, just possibly, he can provide the type of leadership that could accomplish at least some of the goals he has in mind for the sport of Women's boxing. But what provides you with real hope for the sport is not talk, but a long held belief that if the sport of Women's boxing is going to turn around, it's going to happen behind the leadership of a boxing guy determined to make it happen. And Joe Dwyer is a boxing guy.

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