Witherspoon, Smith Management Questioned

The state of New York is investigating allegations that its athletic commission rules were violated when promoter Don King’s son managed both Tim Witherspoon and James (Bonecrusher) Smith in their recent World Boxing Assn. heavyweight title fight.

Inspector General Joe Spinelli said Thursday that his investigation centers on a commission rule that bars a manager from having two fighters on the same card without special permission from the commission. He said the inquiry was requested by Gov. Mario Cuomo.

“Our major concern is to look at the commission’s own bylaws and find out if they were followed,” said Spinelli, a former FBI agent who once headed a federal investigation into boxing.

King’s son, Carl, managed Witherspoon and co-managed Smith when they fought for the WBA title Dec. 12 at Madison Square Garden. The fight was promoted by Don King.


After losing his crown by a first-round knockout, Witherspoon criticized Commission Chairman Jose Torres for allowing the younger King to manage both fighters in the title bout.

Torres said that he heard rumors before the fight that Carl King was one of Smith’s managers but was unable to verify the rumors.

“The commission was never notified that Carl King was involved in the management of Bonecrusher Smith,” he said. Because there has been no notification, Torres said, King should not even be considered Smith’s official co-manager.

Torres said he welcomes Spinelli’s investigation.


“I almost asked for it,” he said. “I think it will make the commission stronger and show that I have done nothing wrong.”