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Jorge's Corner
The Voice of Boxing in Central and Northern California


Stockton, CA
Aug. 15, 2006

James Grunsky, the youngest promoter on the scene is no better or worse than other promoters. Promoting is a business. It’s about the money. James, took an old and proven formula, and squeezed it for all he could. When he could not squeeze anymore out of it, he took another. When boxing did not generate enough income, he went to cage fighting.

Cage fighting unfortunately seems to be the wave of the future. Anyone who knows combat sports knows fans want to see people beat each other to death. Yes, I mean to death. Most fans, once they’ve drank enough and gotten themselves into a blood frenzy want to watch someone die. It sounds horrible, but unless you’ve attended as many fights as I have, and watched, “allegedly² good people scream obscenities, you’ve not seen human beings at their worse. Enter cage fighting. This must make Satan smile; it’s the best of the worst. This is not to say cage fighters are not tough, they are very much so.

The Boxing Commission endorsed this “sport”, because there are millions to be made by promoting the nearest thing to a real fight. There is a tremendous market for violence in our society. Stockton with its love of violence, bloody history, political corruption, convict population, and a murder a week mentally, is the perfect place to promote such a blood festival. Enter James Grunsky, who used local boxers like tissue paper, then, discarded them like garbage. It’s the nature of the business, and no one should be angry. He did nothing legally wrong. No one can file a law suite or claim wrongdoing. When it came to doing the right thing, or financial survival, he survived. You can’t blame James Grunsky; he never lied about who he was, or why he was doing this. So what if he pissed off a few fans, they’ve got no political power anyway. What are they gonna do? There’s nothing else to do in Stockton, unless you play softball, eat pizza, bowl, or drink, it sucks. Who wants to go play in the smelly delta? Its toxic. It’s so polluted. The fecal mater content is at dangerously high levels, and raising. It may soon be declared a biohazard, and smells like rotten eggs. It’s filled with trash, lined with slaps of discarded cement and looks like trash.

James might have withheld information, waited too long, or been covertly dishonest, but he broke no law. Therefore like President Bush, he is still considered an “honest man”. Personally, I think James missed his calling, he should go into politics, he’d fit right in. The rest of us can chuckle, but technically, in the eyes of the law, he is an honest man. The rest of us should remember, James is in business, not to serve the public, make a difference, or save an endangered species, it’s about the money. Fans should know all professional sports are about the money, honesty, and fair play, are just catchy words thrown in to help sell the game on TV and make celebrities of the athletes.

James knows the way to get Stockton fans to attend is to promote local fighters. He realized that if he let the public know the main event was canceled, he would have lost his shirt. He knows local fans wanted to see one of their own pound the hell out of someone. It sells ticket and makes money. Promoters across the country do this on an on-going basis. Don Chargin does in Sacramento, Jerry Hoffman does it in Monterey, James Feller in Modesto, Golden Boy did it in San Jose, etc. etc.

Anyone who knows Nick Diaz knows he is a tough customer, who grew up fighting in the streets and pounded out a name for himself on national TV. His younger brother, cut from the same stuff, won the one and only Tough Man contest which Fear No Man Boxing Club help present in Stockton. I believe would Nick would have fought for nothing if need be. Which makes you wonder why James wasn’t more up front. He lost a lot more than money; he lost creditability.

When James claims he was “holding out” for an opponent, I’m not sure he’s being completely honest, although I would give him an opportunity to explain. Usually, the commission must have all the blood, paper work, etc., in hand before the weigh in, which is normally one day before. This leaves no room for error. If a promoter has doubts about a fighter making weight, or getting past the commission, he must already have another in line, waiting, and ready to go. If James learned Nick’s opponent was not fit, or unable to get past the commission, he should have make arrangements. His excuse sounds less than genuine to me.

Armando Garcia, a political appointee, chief of the Commission, can’t bend or break the rules, it would mean his hide if he did so. This is not to say they don’t manipulate, bend or change rules when it behooves them. Anyone in that position has made a lot of enemies who would love to see him fall. Armando has little margin for error.

I am surprised Armando did not allow the fight between Meaders and Diaz to take place; I’ve seen dozens of uneven boxing matches approved by the commission. So, I wonder if its not something else. I can only speculate, and I have nothing to go on, but it smells fishy. The other guy, Marrero, must be on a suspension, which is normal for anyone who’s been knocked out. Normally a fighter gets a 45-day suspension, just to make sure he’s all right before he fights again. The problem is that James Grunsky, who’s not new at this, must have known, and failed to act.

The questions that must be asked is this, “Will fans give James Grunsky, the benefit of a doubt, when he promotes another fight”. I say they will. First of all Stockton loves violence, no matter the quality, opponents, or who hosts the event. James has staged some unbelievably bad boxing shows, and yet the fans loved them. I also believe fans have a very short memory. Once they get to talking about how great local fighters are, which is pure fantasy, they’ll take anything served to them. Which is why Stockton boxers don’t improve. As long as they stay here, they are heroes, once they leave, it’s bad news.

The typical fight fan knows very little about boxing, or cage fighting. They do know three things, they like to drink, they like violence, and they don’t give a damn who dies. You’ve got to remember this is Stockton, also known as Gun Smoke, famous for blood shed, political corruption, gangs, prisons, crime, and poverty. Its famous for meanness, random violence, and a sink or swim mentally. Murders in the jail, drug addiction, shootings, stabbing, and a political system so corrupt as to make Mexico’s look honest. All a promoter would have to do is take more time, plan events in advance, and have several fights waiting to be made so as not to piss off the fans, which are as dangerous as the fighters.

No one should judge James Grunsky harshly, he did what any promoter would do, he withheld information in order to make a buck. Its the nature of business, if you give it some thought, its about exploiting the little guy, making money as fast as you can, and getting out. There is still plenty of dishonesty left to go around, and promoters like James Grunsky will continue to use fighters, then discard them like garbage, because that’s the way its set up to be. I’ve met James; he seems OK, I wonder however, if he knows he’s let down the same fans that helped him make it when he first got started. I wonder if anyone will ever truly trust him again, and I wonder how he sleeps at night. Mostly, I wonder if he remembers all the boxers who no longer have a local promoter to depend on?

Anyone who says, “life is not fair”, knows boxing. It seems that just when things seem as bleak as they can possibly be, they get darker. Just when you think, you cannot be disillusioned any more, pow! Its Republicans call, “survival of the fittest”. I don’t attend cage fighting; I don’t see it as having any qualities I admire. Personally, I’d rather go to the worse boxing match I’ve ever seen, then a cage fight. I hope fans don’t judge James Grunsky too harshly, he didn’t make the rules, and as they say, don’t hate the player, hate the game. I believe James Grunsky, promoter, will live on. Stay tuned.  

Always in Your Corner,

Jorge A. Martinez