An ABC-TV employee, who advised the network on its televising of the U.S. Boxing Championships last spring, warned a network official that 31 to 56 boxers selected for the series were unqualified, according to a hitherto secret report prepared for ABC.
Alex Wallau, the employee, told ABC Sports vice president Jim Spence in a Dec. 21 memo last year that 14 of the boxers were "disgraces." six others were "distant" and not worthy of being ranked in the top 18 of their divisions and 11 were "marginal," falling between 13th and 18th place in their divisions.
The network's contract with tournament promoter Don King stipulated that all fighters had to be in the top 12 of their divisions by Ring Magazine. Wallau's report to Spence was submitted almost a month before the first bout.
Two days after he sent his memo to Spence about the boxers, Wallau had a conversation with him. The report said that Wallau interpreted Spence's remarks as an "implicit direction not to complete the other portions of the memo."
"He (Spence) did not tell me to specifically cease," Wallau said yesterday. "He said, 'I have what I need' - which might be the same thing, but it's a little different." The second portion of his memo was to deal with the possible repercussions for ABC because of its involvement.
Copies of the report, compiled by New York attorney Philip R. Forlenza, have been obtained by the Federal Communications Commission and the House Subcommittee on Communications.
The Subcommittee will begin hearings today on the relationship between sports and television and will scrutinize the boxing championships. The Subcommittee will also cover "winner-take-all" tennis matches, advertising and promotional practices, anticompetitive trade practices and changes in sports events to accommodate television.
The contents of the Fordenza report are being kept confidential. The Boston Globe, however, obtained a copy of the report and published portions on Sunday. The Washington post has received independent confirmation on parts of it.