The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board: Six Years of Nothingness

By Paul Magno on October 10, 2018
The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board: Six Years of Nothingness
Trying to find out how, exactly, their rankings were put together was like pulling teeth.

The TBRB rankings, like Ring Magazine’s, were fully determined by the whims and whimsies and opinions of writers invited to be part of their panel…

During an online conversation a few years back, a co-founder of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) told me, with a straight face, that, given his board’s stance on what constituted a “real” world champion, he had to strip Roberto Duran of his middleweight world title—twenty-three years after the fact. And, “brother,” this demoting of his favorite fighter tore him up so much that he had to take a long walk in the park to get his head together.

It was then and there that I knew for sure something was a bit “off” with at least some of these “transnational” people.

I had been a critic of the TBRB from the very moment it tried to bum-rush the boxing media and instantly claim itself as providers of boxing’s REAL divisional rankings coming from a pure, unbiased, incorruptible source. My criticism was actually more of a healthy skepticism, to be fair—a healthy skepticism that grew as I started poking around more.

The organization, which came to be when a handful of writers rejected Ring Magazine’s 2012 championship policy changes for their pretend rankings, was really just a Ring Magazine rankings board 2.0. Other than holding firm on only #1 vs. #2 determining their “real” world champs, the TBRB rankings, like Ring Magazine’s, were fully determined by the whims and whimsies and opinions of writers invited to be part of their panel.

The TBRB would kick things off in October of 2012, recruiting members with influence at major websites, who would then leverage that influence into instantly declaring the group the only legitimate source for boxing rankings. TBRB press releases were showcased as front page material at member websites. Interviews were conducted by board members with board leaders, essentially pushing a “why are we so awesome” line of questioning.

As I poked, prodded, and questioned the group’s motives and operational structure, I had several heated run-ins with members who vehemently disliked my digging and meddling. 

The crew that was literally insisting on instant and full credibility, offered zero transparency into the nuts and bolts of their ranking process or procedure. And, believe me, trying to find out how, exactly, their rankings were put together was like pulling teeth.

That changed a bit when member Eric Raskin included a blurb about their process in a rah-rah blog he posted at ESPN.com.

“Every Sunday,” Raskin wrote, “the three founders put their heads together and update the rankings to reflect the past week’s results; the updates are posted on a message board accessible only to members; the TBRB board members weigh in with disagreements and suggestions; the founders take the suggestions into account and finalize the ratings.”

So, in short, a board which boasted 30+ members (and now claims 50 from 20 different countries), is really only used as a prop to support, confirm, or clean up the rankings made by three people and, at the end of the day, finalized by those same three.

When one initially heard about this ranking board of do-gooders, 30 (or 50) members strong, it was reasonable to assume that this was a true group effort, maybe a popular consensus of what the board thought as a whole. This wasn’t the case, though. But it was that assumption that won over some fans and media people—including a perpetually befuddled Teddy Atlas, whose glowing pro-TBRB quote is still dragged around by the organization like a 40-year-old man carrying his participation trophy from a high school track meet.

Was I right in my assessment of how things worked? I’m assuming yes, just based on the information available, but it would be hard to confirm any of this because they just wouldn’t allow independent access to the process.

Maybe the process has changed since Raskin wrote that blurb in 2013, but nobody on the outside would ever know because, again, there’s zero transparency with the TBRB. And, while the group’s big shots will graciously offer to explain their decisions AFTER the fact, they steadfastly refuse to let the general public peek behind the curtain to see how the proverbial sausage gets made.

But, man, did they fume and fuss and bite back at me when I kept pushing to at least get a glimpse at the behind-the-scenes process.

The questions I had were: how much did the board actually contribute to this weekly ranking process; how many of the board members exercised their voice; and to what extent did the 3-man panel’s “suggestions” become confirmed by their own ultimate authority.

I never got any answers, though, nor did I get a peek behind the curtain. At one point, a pro-TBRB writer for my own site at the time, The Boxing Tribune, applied for membership, but, predictably, his request was never even addressed while less experienced and less active writers from smaller sites were brought aboard.

When I posted my first skeptical piece about the organization, I got an insulting, but genuinely humorous “maybe you could be a member one day” carrot dangled out to me for, presumably, being a good boy who stops poking holes in their ego-loaded piñata. Eventually, as I poked and prodded some more, the tone became angrier. My pursuits, according to one message sent to my Facebook inbox, were a product of my “jealousy.” Another co-founder slammed me on social media for being “bad at facts and reading” and for spreading “falsehoods” about his group—although everything I published was straight from a member’s mouth (or fingers) or gleaned from publicly posted material.

A healthy skepticism on my part turned into full-on doubt after a year spent trying to get the answers to what should’ve been the simplest of questions for a group crowing about their integrity—How are your rankings actually put together?

I gave up the quest after a while because, really, what was the point? No answers would be forthcoming and it’s not like anyone beyond their own membership panel and a very small group of fans were taking them seriously, anyway. Plus, who needs the hassle of an angry backlash for something that means nothing?

Maybe if they HAD been willing to show their work and let fans in on the decision-making process, rather than standing around patting each other on the asses while shoving their self-perceived wisdom down the public’s throat, things would’ve been different. Maybe not. But I was done with the effort to humanize and clarify their dick-swinging efforts.

I do support the idea of legitimate, non-biased, 100% independent rankings. And my first objection to the TBRB was over the folly of making this grand effort to start up something almost completely identical to what had already failed several times before.

Boxing didn’t need rankings based on the opinions of boxing writers—historically, an infinitely corruptible lot. It could’ve benefitted greatly from something real and objective, though. Those forming this Ring Magazine 2.0 new group could’ve put their brainpower and energy into a ranking system that mattered, one that would be fully free of bias, prejudice, and corruption—a system resistant to human weakness. Maybe a self-sustaining formula-based method could’ve been implemented that would negate the need for a panel, board, or any sort of nebulous voting procedure. A good, honest system would just need someone to tabulate rankings and a few advisors to make changes when/if the times necessitate change in the basic formula. With so many minds on the case, something real could’ve been put together. Instead, the founding members of the TBRB deferred to their own egos and insisted on keeping their thumbprint on their efforts, thereby corrupting the entire process.

None of this is to say that the TBRB members are “bad.” I know a few members and they are well-intentioned when it comes to their participation in the group. A couple of self-important head cases may be involved at the highest levels of the TBRB, but they are mostly harmless as well (unless Roberto Duran is truly and deeply hurt from being pretend-stripped of his world title after more than two decades).

The negative with these guys is mostly in what DIDN’T get done while reform-minded boxing writers played clubhouse.

This new group was just a waste of time—a sometimes angry, often arrogant waste of time that was frequently dismissive of outside input. Something potentially beneficial to the sport never got a chance to be anything other than “just” another opinion-based poll of writers of varying levels of knowledge and expertise. Their rankings—especially considering the true nature of how they are put together—are no more authoritative than any other rankings based on the feelings and opinions of the list maker.

As I wrote back in 2013, while still trying to get some clarity about, well, anything involving their behind-the-scenes process:

“The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board’s arrival was more coup d’état than democratic initiative. They immediately declared themselves THE rankings before the first fan ever had a chance to read anything about them. Their actual rankings decisions are made behind a wall of “members only” secrecy, and if I hadn’t pushed the issue, not a single critical word about their group would have been published by any website. The board members may be well-intentioned, but this doesn’t sound like a group interested in delving beyond the ego-rush of fraternal order membership. And we know how much boxing writers LOVE to be members of secret orders and fraternal brotherhoods.”

Ultimately, the group that boasted of being a “first bell of a new era” in the press releases enthusiastically posted on members’ websites, was less “opening bell for reform” and more ding-a-ling in a dustbin.

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  1. Your Name 01:38pm, 10/12/2018

    wtf

  2. fan 05:27am, 10/12/2018

    Boxing should have a board of promoter, boxer, doctor, olympics, web.
    Boxing should allow to switch glove during fight.

  3. Your Name 04:43pm, 10/11/2018

    And of course, no one from the Trans…. has responded to this article. Arrogance is one of its trademarks

  4. Anonymous 05:41pm, 10/10/2018

    Ring Mag has a solid list that makes the Trannies suck wind. Great stuff Magno. It’s about time someone exposed these clowns for what they are. their rankings are horrible and make me want to vomit.

  5. ceylon 01:35pm, 10/10/2018

    correction/clarification: jermall has 2 significant wins at 154 and none at 160.

    jesus.

  6. ceylon 01:34pm, 10/10/2018

    pot calling the kettle black.

    anyone notice the boxing.com p4p list?

    jermall charlo, who has one significant win, is on the boxing.com pound for pound list. erroll spence be #3… gervonta davis…GERVONTA DAVIS??? charlie sheen come up with this bullshit? wtf.

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