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Animal Defenders of Westchester
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Stop Animal Fighting

Boxer scolded for animal fighting

NY Daily News
Sunday, December 26, 2004

"Tuning In" sports column
By Bob Raissman

Roy's HBO hopes on the ropes

Since being defeated in consecutive fights, Roy Jones Jr. faces an uncertain future, but he may be in for a fight outside the squared circle.

In a recent letter sent to HBO Sports boss Ross Greenburg, Wayne Pacelle, president/CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, the nation's largest animal protection organization (over eight million members), asked the network to fire Jones if he does not give up his heavy -- and lengthy -- involvement in cockfighting.

"It hurts everyone's efforts to have a celebrated sports figure promoting this horrendous activity," Pacelle said in the letter. "We are confident that HBO will hold its newly hired representative (Jones) up to a higher standard and that you will ask him to cease his cockfighting activity or face sanction from HBO up to, and including, possible dismissal."

This year, Jones replaced George Foreman as HBO Sports' No. 1 boxing analyst, working with Larry Merchant and Jim Lampley. Jones also holds the distinction of fighting more times (29) on HBO's "World Championship Boxing" than any fighter in the history of the series.

"We appreciate their (The Humane Society's) concern," said Ray Stallone, an HBO Sports spokesman. "When our sports executives return from the holidays we will certainly review the issue."

In his letter, Pacelle says the issue of Jones' participation in cockfighting should be of "critical imporance" to HBO because

"cockfighting is a barbaric and gruesome practice, causing untold suffering to tens of thousands of birds a year."

Cockfighting is illegal in 48 states. It is legal in parts of New Mexico and Louisiana. According to Pacelle, Jones recently purchased a cockfighting pit -- "Pearl of the Bayou" -- near Franklinton, La.

Jones also raises fighting cocks on his farm in Pensacola, Fla., where he resides.

"By employing Mr. Jones, HBO is aligning itself with an individual who openly promotes and profits from cockfighting. We urge HBO to take a firm and public position against this blood sport," Pacelle said.

"Specifically, we request that HBO disassociate itself from Jones unless he agrees to shut down his cockfighting pit and no longer participates in any form of animal fighting."

In 1999, HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" did a story on cockfighting. Jones appeared in the piece and spoke about his participation in cockfighting. And in a February 2003 interview conducted on Jones' 88-acre farm, Daily News boxing writer Tim Smith described "the small white plastic and silver-corrugated tepees" that house the cocks.

At the time, Jones was training for his WBA heavyweight title fight with John Ruiz. "They (the cocks) stay ready to kill or be killed," Jones said.

Pacelle said Jones has "actively lobbied," against a Florida law making it a felony "not only to fight animals, but to possess animals for the purpose of fighting."

Ironically, HBO's "Real Sports" has shown a sensitivity toward animal issues. Not only did "Real Sports" air the cockfighting piece, but it recently presented an examination on the overbreeding of greyhound dogs, who are trained to race. The feature detailed the consequences when a greyhound's racing career is over and it is discarded.

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Dear Bob Raissman,

Thanks so much for writing about Roy Jones Jr.'s involvement in cockfighting.

Your colleague Tim Smith, in his February 2003 interview, also mentioned the three dozen pit bulls that Jones had on his Pensacola farm. He breeds and sells them. Not too quantum a leap to figure out what for.

(Whereas cockfighting is illegal in 48 states, dog fighting is illegal in all 50 -- and is a felony in 40+.)

There's a story here that needs to be told.

In 2003, LeShon Johnson (NY Giants) was busted for hosting a huge dog fighting event at his home in Oklahoma.

At present, Qyntel Woods (Portland Trail Blazers) is suspended without pay for engaging in dog fighting. in Oregon. His case is under investigation.

It gets me nuts that professional athletes -- "role models" for so many youngsters -- engage in cruel, inhumane, illegal activities -- and get away with it because no one writes about it -- no one challenges them.

Will you help dispel the myth that these "blood sports" are even sports at all. Will you challenge these sports "heroes"?

Thanks again for your Sunday "Tuning In" piece. Hope to hear from you about a follow-up piece.


Livi French
The Caring Corps, Inc.
Animal Advocacy

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