From Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES, 22 July – A Bulgarian boxer whose California license was suspended for violently kissing a reporter during an interview was reinstated on Monday, but warned that he would face a permanent ban on such conduct in the future.
The California State Athletic Commission voted 6-0 to lift the suspension of Kubrat Pulev, a heavyweight fighter named “The Cobra,” after he completed a sexual harassment prevention course and paid a $2,500 fine.
Pulev, 38, a two-time European heavyweight champion whose encounter on camera with Jennifer Ravalo became viral in March, apologised at the San Diego hearing.
“I’m very sorry for this kiss,” the City News Service quoted him as saying. “And I must say to Mrs. Ravalo, please excuse me and excuse the kiss, because it was my mistake, 100 percent.”
Pulev grabbed Ravalo’s face in his hands and kissed her in an interview shortly after his knockout system against Romanian Bogdan Dinu in Costa Mesa, California.
In the video she seems to laugh about it and says: “All right, thanks” while he goes away. But Ravalo later filed a complaint claiming that the kiss was forced upon her and unwelcome. She said that Pulev also grabbed her buttocks after the interview.
In May, the commission suspended Pulev’s boxing license and cited him for violating rules that prohibit an athlete from engaging in what is considered “discrediting boxing.
In his statement, Pulev said he had been “too emotional” during his interview with Ravalo, but had since learned that he “must have more respect for women”.
The commission has determined that Pulev’s license will be “permanently revoked if he commits an act similar to his actions against sports reporter Jenny Ravalo”.
Ravalo said in a statement that she had been “continuously publicly ashamed… by Team Pulev” and its advertising agency Top Rank since the March meeting.
“I’m accused of a man who can’t control himself,” she said.
Her lawyer, Gloria Allred, thanked the commission for suspending Pulev, but said that his promoter, Bob Arum, should be punished even for comments he made in a separate IFL TV interview by belittling the agency’s actions as “completely crazy” and rejecting Pulev for doing something wrong.
“Mr. Arum talked about an interview he didn’t believe was sexual harassment in a 6-foot-4, 250-pound boxer who grabs the face of a 5-foot-2 reporter and violently kisses her with his bloody mouth,” Ravalo said. “I’d like to see if he thinks a big, bloody man did the same thing to him without his consent.” (Report by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles, cut by Rosalba O’Brien)