FIGHTING FOR THE UNDERDOG AND CHEERING A CHAMPION
By Margie Stuski
Harry Joe Yorgey has a great story. He is a real family guy with his Dad selling most of his fans tickets and arranging the buses for the 100 or so fans who go to every one of his fights. He had an undefeated record. Harry had an arbitration case with his manager because they could not agree to the selection of his next fight. In a decision on June 13, 2008 before the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, the commission ruled that Harry Joe Yorgey could participate in boxing matches without the approval of his manager, who had previously contested any bouts that were presented to Yorgey by Art Pellullo of Banner Productions. Harry Joe Yorgey was to fight on March 7, 2008 but his manager blocked it with legal filings.
He was to fight in May and then in June in Las Vegas. All were blocked by the legal fight. In January, Yorgey was told by his manager not to come to his gym until the legal dispute was resolved. Harry Joe Yorgey had to find a new gym and a new team that he had to pay for. He was training full-time with no other job and had not fought since October, 2007.
Now three days before this fight, his manager goes to Commonwealth Court and wants to stop the fight again. Why? Because according to the manager's lawyer, Harry Joe Yorgey would be irreparably harmed if he lost and Harry's manager did not think Harry would win against this opponent who was also undefeated.
I immediately starting researching the legal questions as a hearing was scheduled for that Thursday, the day before the fight was scheduled.
I argued to the Judge that Harry Joe Yorgey had won his hearing before the State Athletic Commission. The Commission is an example of government regulation that provides expertise in these matters so that courts do not have to hold full hearings on matters that require such expertise.
The Commission has the interests of the boxer, the public and the boxing industry in mind when they hold their hearings. I asked the Judge to let Harry have an opportunity to make a living and feed his family. I also said that psychologically, this would be very damaging for Harry had prepared for the fight and it would be snatched from him at the last minute. As it takes time for bouts to be rescheduled, it would be almost a year that Harry did not fight. Harry's friends, family and fans were already on a bus headed to Nashville. Money had been paid for hotel rooms and for the fight.
ESPN was going to show the fight both in the United States and abroad. This was a big deal. The fight was for the International Boxing Federation's North American Junior Middleweight championship. After hearing argument from the manager's attorney, myself and the State Athletic Commission's attorney, the Judge ruled that he would not stop the fight. He said any issues on appeal would be handled in the course of the lawsuit but he wasn't stopping the fight.
I was absolutely delighted. On Friday night, I turned on ESPN and there was Harry Joe Yorgey fighting Jason LeHouiller.
It was a great fight and what happened next was the best. Harry Joe Yorgey, with his family, friends, fans and the entire ESPN U.S. and international audience watching, won! He is the champion. He was being handed the championship belt.
Harry Joe Yorgey vaulted into a top-15 in the WORLD ranking for his weight class. I understand he is now ranked 2 in the local area with this win. On Saturday, I was on the Philadelphia Boxing Report. I was still grinning and so happy for Harry Joe Yorgey.
Nickname: Lightning Harry Joe
Global ID: 155489
US ID: 056415
Birth date: 1977-11-20
Manager: Henry Racich
Division: Light middleweight
Rating: 22 / 1102 9 / 226
Residence: Bridgeport, PA, USA
Height: 5’ 10"/ 178cm
Wins: 22 (KO 10)
Losses: 0 (KO 0)
KO% Boxed 118 : 43.48%