Junior welterweight contender Amir Imam has filed a lawsuit against promoter Don King and manager Roosevelt "Stacey" McKinley for breach of contract and violations of the federal Muhammad Ali Reform Act.
Imam, who filed the suit in the 11th Circuit Court for Broward County, Florida, on April 16, is seeking an immediate release from his promotional contract as well as more than $500,000, in addition to punitive damages.
The suit claims that King used unfair and coercive practices to get Imam to sign an extension to his promotional deal in 2015. Imam claims that McKinley, who as manager had a fiduciary duty to Imam, was being financially supported by King and was looking out for King's best interests rather than negotiating on Imam's behalf. McKinley also served as Imam's trainer.
Imam's claims are also related to his pay for a shot at a vacant 140-pound world title against Jose Ramirez, which took place in March 2018 in New York. Imam, who lost a unanimous decision and has not fought since, said his purse was only $100,000 of the $300,000 Ramirez promoter Top Rank paid to King to deliver Imam's services for the bout.
In addition, Imam said he received only $29,000 of the $100,000, and McKinley, along with two nominal management partners, received $43,000. There was also a $25,000 deduction meant to repay loans and advance money, but 43 percent of a purse going to a manager is highly unusual.
Imam (21-2, 18 KOs), 28, claimed that King never showed him the paperwork on how much money King was getting for the fight, which is required under the Ali Act, and he failed to deliver the number of bouts he was obligated to under their promotional agreement.
"Despite the legal requirement that (Don King Productions) show Amir in writing how much DKP received for Amir's participation in the bout, as our suit alleges, this was not done," attorney Carl D. Berry, a former King attorney, who is representing Imam, said in a statement. "This has been a component of other lawsuits against DKP. Amir walked away from this bout with a check for $29,000 after DKP and his purported managers took their cut of his purse -- none of whom held a manager's license at the time of the bout. Amir walked away with less than 10 percent of the cut to DKP. You will see this and other allegations in our lawsuit, which I personally find to be reprehensible."
Imam, who has hired veteran boxing manager Peter Kahn to handle his career, said in the suit that King has not offered him any fights since the loss and blamed the lack of activity over the past year for his being dropped from the sanctioning body rankings.
"Amir Imam has not fought for over a year. Amir is a world class fighter who is currently not in the rankings for any sanctioning organization due to his inactivity," attorney Carl D. Berry, a former King attorney who is representing Imam, said in a statement. "Considering he has been ready, willing and able to fight, and (Don King Productions) asserts it's his promoter, this is preposterous. Unfortunately, our lawsuit stems from the same set of circumstances which have resulted in so many other previous lawsuits against DKP.
"Putting everything else aside, this lawsuit is about a 28-year-old man and his right to work, the most fundamental right of any man, that is to earn a living. Yes, there are allegations of fraud and malfeasance within the complaint, and we believe we (will) be able to prove our allegations in a court of law. But a man has the right to work and to receive fair market wages for his craft. We filed this lawsuit so we can get Amir back to work and he can earn fair market wages for his trade."
King brushed off the lawsuit.
"It's all B.S. That's bull, and I won't say the other part because it's an expletive," King told ESPN on Tuesday. "There ain't anything to it. It's an extortion plan. The guy (Berry) who filed it used to work for me. All of that is bull. I took this guy to a world title fight, and I always admired him because when he lost his first fight, he didn't blame anybody but himself. I think people are putting something in his head. We'll deal with it. It was a disappointment, a shock and a disappointment."
McKinley could not be reached for comment.