New Jersey boxing managers Joe Hand Sr. and Alfred “Doc” Nowicki seek damages alleging state officials interfered with a contract they signed with professional boxer Dennis Hasson. In a press release issued yesterday, Hand and Nowicki filed a lawsuit on Friday against the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board, its commissioner, Aaron M. Davis, and legal counsel, Nicholas Lembo, in the United States District Court of New Jersey. The two long-time managers allege that the state officials violated their due process rights and interfered with private contracts without basis or justification.
According to the lawsuit, approximately two years into a five-year, co-management contract Hand and Nowicki signed with Hasson, state officials arbitrarily held the contract void without notifying either manager. Defendants Lembo and Davis knew or should have known that it is unlawful for government officials to void a private contract without notice or an opportunity to be heard.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that there was absolutely no basis in New Jersey law or otherwise to void the binding co-management contract and the decision was made arbitrarily by Davis and Lembo, who themselves endorsed the contract just two years prior.
Further, after holding the co-management contract void, Lembo and Davis intentionally concealed this information from Hand and Nowicki, who learned of the decision from third parties. Despite several letters, phone calls and other informal requests by Hand and Nowicki, Lembo and Davis refused to address the decision or justify their actions, leaving no choice but to seek redress in the courts.
“Under the Constitution, government officials must afford an opportunity to be heard, or at the very least provide notice, prior to stripping a liberty and property interest from someone,” said Ryan R. Janis of Jekielek & Janis, LLP, the attorney representing Hand and Nowicki. “In this case, the interest is our clients’ valuable rights under their management contract.
“Our clients brought this lawsuit not only to seek redress for significant financial losses, but also to shed light on what we believe are gross violations of their rights perpetrated by the very officials who are supposed to protect the integrity of sports in the state of New Jersey.”
Hasson, an undefeated 28-year old prospect who hails from Philadelphia, was a #2 ranked amateur in the United States before turning pro in 2008 and has compiled a professional record of 15-0-0, 5 KO's. His latest victory came on August 31, 2012, with an eight-round unanimous decision win over light heavyweight Daniel Judah at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.
“In all my years in boxing, I have never seen any athletic commission operate the way the present New Jersey State Athletic Control Board operates,” said Hand who has been involved in the boxing industry for over 40 years. “Doc and I recognized very early the talent that Dennis possessed. It’s a shame our relationship with Dennis was cut short for no reason and without an explanation. I am confident we’ll get a satisfactory decision from the court system.”
Hand's vast experience extends to the 1960's where he had a key role in Cloverlay, Inc., a company formed to manage the career of an "up and coming" boxer named Joe Frazier. Under the direction of Hand and Cloverlay, Frazier became one of the greatest heavyweights of all time.
In 1971, Hand founded Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. that works with the top boxing companies in the world and is currently the exclusive commercial distributor of the Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view programming.
Doc Nowicki entered professional boxing management in 1997 and has helped develop the careers of several boxers through the years. This includes current welterweight contender Mike Jones (26-1-0, 19 KO's) and Teon Kennedy (17-2-2, 7 K0's) who most recently faced reigning WBA super bantamweight champion Guillermo Rigondeaux this past June.
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