Tyson Fury’s 90-year-old promoter is being sued by the welterweight champion, claiming he has a ‘sordid history’ with non-white athletes
Bob Arum, Tyson Fury’s US promoter, is being sued by welterweight world champion Terence Crawford amid allegations he shows racial bias against black fighters.
Crawford filed a lawsuit against his previous promoter Top Rank claiming Arum, its 90-year-old chairman, has a “sordid history” with non-white athletes. A lawyer representing the fighter described the case as a “game-changer”.
The suit alleges that Arum “continues to make racist and bigoted statements and purposefully damage the reputations of Black boxers”. Arum dismissed the claims as “frivolous” and described the racism allegations against him as “vile”.
Crawford, from Omaha, Nebraska, the world’s leading welterweight boxer who is regarded as the No 2 pound-for-pound boxer in the sport, first signed with Top Rank in 2011 and claimed world titles in three weight divisions on his rise to fame in boxing, beating UK fighters Ricky Burns, Amir Khan, and last year, Kell Brook.
In the lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in Nevada, it is claimed that “Arum’s sordid history with athletes of color, especially Black fighters, and his bias favoring white and Latino fighters is well-documented and known throughout the boxing world.”
“Arum makes no secret of his deep-seated bias against Black fighters,” the documents also state.
Arum has promoted many fighters of African-American heritage.
After a time in the Kennedy Administration as a newly-minted Harvard Law Graduate, Arum began his career promoting Muhammad Ali in the Sixties, and also went on to oversee the careers of the likes of Marvin Hagler and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“Bud Crawford’s lawsuit against Top Rank is frivolous,” Arum said in a statement on Wednesday from the offices of Top Rank in Las Vegas, Nevada. “His vile accusations of racism are reckless and indefensible.
“He knows it, and his lawyer knows it. I have spent my entire working life as a champion of Black boxers, Latino boxers, and other boxers of color. I have no doubt the Court will see Crawford’s case for the malicious extortion attempt that it is.”
Crawford, 34, seeks damages in excess of $5.4 million (£4 million), citing Top Rank’s failure to deliver a second fight in year two of a contract extension he signed in 2018, as well as a bout with Errol Spence Jr, for a unification welterweight contest, seen as one of boxing’s showcase events.
The lawsuit claims that when Crawford signed to fight Egidijus Kavaliauskas in 2019, the agreement included a $900,000 payment if Top Rank failed to sign a bout for Crawford with Spence by the end of 2020.
“It is unfortunate that Top Rank did not treat Terence properly and in fact spoke out regularly against him,” Crawford’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, told ESPN. “Unlike other boxers bound to Top Rank contracts, Terence can assert his claims in court without Top Rank forcing him to sit out,” Freedman said. “Make no mistake, that is a game-changer.”
Crawford claims breach of contract as well as fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation.
He also alleges that Arum made disparaging comments about him in an effort to harm his reputation and impact future prospects with a new promoter.
The suit points to Arum’s 2020 remark that he “could build a house in Beverly Hills on the money I’ve lost on him in the last three fights”.
Crawford earned $6m for his November pay-per-view bout against Shawn Porter, the last fight of his deal with Top Rank.
Crawford also netted $3.5m for the Kell Brook bout, $4.8m for his fight with Amir Khan and $4m for the matchup with Kavaliauskas.
Arum’s Top Rank, who also promote Scotland’s undisputed light welterweight king Josh Taylor, last year signed a multi-year deal with Sky Sports to broadcast around 30 events a year, primarily from the USA but also including UK events.