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Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 15, 2001


Boxing head Lee gets 22 months

Robert Lee, the International Boxing Federation founder, was sentenced to almost two years in prison Wednesday for money laundering and tax evasion in Newark, N.J.

Lee also was fined $25,000, and settled a related government lawsuit by agreeing to a lifetime ban from boxing and to pay the IBF $50,000 in compensation. He had been charged with taking bribes from promoters and managers in return for favors that included regularly rigging the rankings of one of the world's major sanctioning organizations.

But a federal jury in August rejected those allegations, developed during a four-year undercover FBI investigation, convicting Lee on six of 33 felony charges.

Prosecutors contended Lee made bribery part of his operation almost as soon as he organized the IBF in 1983 after failing to be elected leader of the World Boxing Association, another major sanctioning body.

Lee, 67, is not eligible for parole under the 22-month sentence imposed by U.S. District Judge John W. Bissell.

Lee had faced up to seven years in prison, as calculated by the U.S. Probation Department, for convictions on money laundering, two counts of tax evasion and three counts of interstate travel in aid of racketeering.

MORE BOXING: Don King plans to promote the first heavyweight title fight in China. The match will be in Beijing and feature the winner of Evander Holyfield's WBA title defense against John Ruiz on March 3 at Las Vegas. An opponent will be named later. The tentative date is June 30. ... James Toney will highlight a three-bout card on March 29 at Cobo Arena, meeting Saul Montana in a 10-round cruiserweight fight.

BASKETBALL: A referee, apparently angry his calls had been criticized, slashed a coach with a knife after a game between 7- and 8-year-olds, sending youngsters and parents scurrying in fear, authorities said in Atlanta.

Coach Jerry Sweeney needed 17 stitches and referee Oliver Wood was jailed on charges of aggravated assault after the attack Tuesday night at an elementary school gym in Fayetteville, an Atlanta suburb.

Sweeney, 48, told police that Wood, a 46-year-old retiree, grabbed him by the throat and cut his arm, leaving a 3-inch gash. Sweeney said he had stepped in the referee's way as Wood lunged for another coach.

"If I hadn't gotten in the way, there's no telling what could have happened. I was close enough he didn't get me that bad," Sweeney said.

Wood told police he was acting in self-defense, saying he was berated by both coaches throughout the game and that Sweeney had tried to choke him.

TENNIS: Top-seeded Venus Williams needed two tiebreakers in her opening match in the Terazura tournament in Nice, France, before beating Anne-Gaelle Sidot 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6). Anne Kremer beat third-seeded Nathalie Tauziat 6-3, 6-4, and fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva downed qualifier Camille Pin 6-3, 6-4. ... Roger Federer, who helped Switzerland oust the United States from the Davis Cup, beat Cyril Saulnier 7-6 (9-7), 6-4 in the Marseille (France) Open. Top-seeded Magnus Norman defeated Olivier Rochus 7-6 (10-8), 7-5 and second-seed Yevgeni Kafelnikov also advanced. Arnaud Clement, seeded third after reaching the Australian Open final, brushed aside Goran Ivanisevic 6-4, 6-3, and Fabrice Santoro beat eighth-seeded Thomas Johansson 6-4, 6-2. ... Italy's top players have threatened to boycott Davis Cup and Federation Cup matches if they don't get more appearance money and a say in captain selection. "Our stance on the matter is not punitive," Italian federation spokesman Gianluca Lovagnini said. "We will be contacting each of the players to hear what they have to say."

BOWLING: Mike Aulby averaged 237 to take a 41-pin lead over Richard Wolfe after the first round of qualifying in the PBA Tour's Tarheel Open in Burlington, N.C. Eric Forkel and Ricky Ward were tied for third (1,851), followed by Todd Masingo (1,828) and Parker Bohn III (1,827).

COLLEGES: The USF men's soccer team signed Jonathon Paul Pagano (Naples Barron Collier), Jason Miller (Lakeland Lake Gibson) and Chris Raye (Manatee) to letters of intent. ... Junior Phil Nover was 2-for-5, including a home run and two RBI, but it was not enough as host Jacksonville lost its baseball season opener 9-7 to Georgia Southern in 10 innings.

FISHING: Chuck Economou of Redington Beach finished fifth in the $500,000 FLW Tour professional bass tournament in D'iberville, Miss. He caught five bass weighing a total of 10 pounds, 6 ounces.

SOCCER: The Mutiny meets Chicago in a preseason match at 11 this morning in Bradenton. ... The Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS faces the Chinese national team and two Japanese clubs during a 10-day trip to Asia this month. The Galaxy plays China on Wednesday and Verdy Kawasaki of Japan's J-League on Feb. 23. The Galaxy ends the trip Feb. 25 at Urawa. ... Tickets for the 2002 World Cup in Japan and Korea went on sale internationally, giving fans for the first time an option to purchase tickets for all of a given team's games. The "Team Specific Tickets" are being sold with the customary "Venue Specific Tickets" that limited spectators to purchasing tickets for a specific stadium. Three-million tickets will be available for the 64-game championship scheduled for May 31-June 30, 2002, in South Korea and Japan, 2.2-million to the general public. ... Manchester United had a scoreless tie at Valencia to stay atop Group A in the European Champions League.

TRACK: The world record set by a U.S. women's team last year in the rarely run 800-meter relay was ratified by the International Amateur Athletic Federation. LaTasha Jenkins, LaTasha Colander-Richardson, Nanceen Perry and Marion Jones established the mark of 1:27.46 in Philadelphia on April 29.

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