Mittleman: "It was crazy"

Manager Calls Actions 'Crazy'
Mittleman, who pleaded guilty to fixing fights and attempted bribery, touts past 'clean record.'

By Steve Springer, Times Staff Writer

Boxing manager Robert Mittleman, who has pleaded guilty in federal court to fixing fights and attempting to bribe a federal prosecutor and judge, said Tuesday his actions were out of character.

"I'm not a serial fight fixer," Mittleman, 61, said from his Florida home. "I made a mistake, a terrible, horrible mistake. This was an aberration. It was crazy."

In a plea bargain reached April 16 and announced Monday by the U.S. Attorney's office in Las Vegas, Mittleman admitted that he arranged for heavyweight Thomas Williams to deliberately lose two fights, to Brian Nielsen in Denmark in March of 2000 and to Richie Melito in Las Vegas five months later. Mittleman received $1,000 for each fix.

He also admitted attempting to pay the two federal officials a $15,000 bribe to drop the case against Williams, who is scheduled to go on trial with promoter Robert Mitchell in August on the fight-fixing charges.

According to sources familiar with the investigation, Mittleman made a $3,000 down payment to undercover officer Frank Manzione, known as Big Frankie, believing Manzione was an underworld figure capable of arranging the bribe.

"I've been in boxing for over 35 years, except for a couple of years in the music business, and I've never done anything like this," Mittleman said. "I had an exemplary record, a clean record in boxing. I think the worst thing that ever happened to me was that I was disciplined once for yelling at a referee in Vegas."

Mittleman got his start as a boxing manager, agent and advisor after the 1968 Olympics. His first client was Alfred Jones, a middleweight who roomed with George Foreman at the 1968 Summer Games. Mittleman's first champion was Joe Louis Manley, the International Boxing Federation light-welterweight titleholder.

Mittleman briefly managed Oscar De La Hoya after De La Hoya won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympics and has been in involved in the careers of Hasim Rahman, Wilfredo Rivera and Carlos Santos.

Mittleman is an advisor to IBF super-featherweight champion Carlos Hernandez.

"I know how to pick fighters," Mittleman said. "I know how to build the career of a fighter without fixing fights. Look at an Oscar De La Hoya. Look at a Hasim Rahman."

Mittleman, who has agreed to testify in the trial of Williams and Mitchell, faces up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on the charge of attempting to bribe public officials, and up to five years and a $250,000 fine for fight fixing.

He is scheduled to be sentenced July 26, but is expected to receive a postponement pending his participation in the trial. Mittleman will receive a recommendation to the judge for a reduction in his punishment if he provides "substantial assistance" to prosecutors, according to the plea agreement.

"My pleading guilty is part of my rehabilitation," Mittleman said.

Pedro Fernandez story: