IN THE PAST six years, D.C. Boxing and Wrestling Commission Chairman Cora Wilds has taken trips -- at city expense -- to 25 national and international boxing meetings. Miss Wilds has said that her numerous travels have placed the District "in the vanguard of the international boxing movement." This achievement is not visible to the naked eye. In fact, the claim is preposterous. The commission is supposed to be promoting boxing here in Washington.
Miss Wilds' trips, chronicled by investigative reporter Mark Feldstein of WUSA-TV (Channel 9), have included flights to Venice, Bangkok and Aruba at a total cost of $23,567. She flew first class because, she says, of her back problem. Just what did the city get out of all of this? Virtually nothing. Big-time boxing in Washington has been dead for years. The city has not hosted a title fight since 1959, and the last serious effort to resurrect the sport here ended in a fiasco in 1983. The District found its way into the boxing record books then with the embarrassing distinction of having been the host of the first championship bout ever to have been canceled because the challenger wasn't interested in making the weight limit.
To put Miss Wilds' travels in the proper context, Mr. Feldstein looked at boxing commissions in 12 states. Three of them -- New York, Nevada and New Jersey -- regularly sanction several fights. None of the commissions spent as much on travel as the District. Only on the rarest occasions did commission members from those states travel outside the United States, and never first class, at that. The Illinois boxing commission, for example, spent $500 on travel last year.
We are not exactly fans of professional boxing. But the fact is that the District has no shortage of talented boxers who could benefit from the safeguards, promotion and attention offered by boxing commissions. In 1987 alone, the city had three boxers nationally ranked in the top 10 of their weight classes. They have recently fought at the Capital Centre in bouts sanctioned by the Maryland State Athletic Commission in New Jersey, Nevada, New York State, even in Alexandria, but not in the District. Some of those boxers don't even train here. Under Miss Wilds' training program, the only championship the District seems to be bucking for is that of most widely and expensively traveled boxing commissioner.