The United States Boxing Association, an organization committed to bringing control of boxing back to this country, changed leadership yesterday from a regime that wanted to see the extinction of its two international rivals -- the World Boxing Council and the World Boxing Association -- to one that wants to seek a coexistence with them for the immediate future.
Bill Brennan of Richmond, a former WBA president who has served as USBA president for the past two years, stepped down at the organization's fourth annual convention at the Shoreham Hotel. His successor will be the USBA's ratings chairman, Robert Lee of New Jersey. Lee narrowly defeated York Van Nixon of the District in the presidential election.
In sessions yesterday, the outgoing and the new leaderships were preaching unity between state commissions in an effort to wrest the stranglehold Latin America has held over both worldwide organizations since the mid-1970s. It still remains to be seen, however, if they can agree on a method to achieve Brennan's ultimate goal of overtaking the WBA and WBC as the dominant power in international boxing.
Lee, who will be joined on the executive board by D.C. Police Chief Burtell Jefferson, ex-heavyweight champion Jersey Joe Walcott, Art Lurie of Nevada and Marty Cohen of Miami, believes the USBA can become an important force alongside the WBA and WBC.
"I have no intention of making war with the WBA and WBC," said Lee. He said America must have a strong voice in international boxing so it will have more of a say in the ratings, currently a product of the two international bodies. "That's the heart of it. Without the ratings, you don't get the championships. The championships are the game."
The USBA members also were in agreement that the United States must have more input concerning safety regulations, the officials and referees of championship fights held in the U.S. and ratings. Within the last year, both the WBA and the WBC have been battling allegations that they have manipulated ratings for favored fighters and promoters.
Brennan and Van Nixon, an outgoing vice president, both are advocates of letting the WBA, WBC and their embroiled leaders self-destruct.
"To hell with the WBC and the WBA," Brennan said. "We have a long way to go, but the USBA is going to be the voice of the boxing world." Brennan foresees a disintegration of both international bodies because of their varied problems with a strengthened USBA eventually stepping in to regulate the fight game.
Van Nixon said the USBA cannot work with either outside group. "We cannot serve both God and Satan.The WBA wants to be God and the WBC is Satan."
The USBA convention continues today and will honor eight men, including writer Dave Brady of The Washington Post, at a dinner tonight at the Shoreham.