The 1950s was the era of the 90 percent top marginal tax rate, and by the end of that decade live gate receipts for top championship fights were supplemented by the proceeds from closed circuit telecasts to movie theaters. A second fight in one tax year would yield very little additional income, hardly worth the risk of losing the title. And so, the three fights between Floyd Patterson and Ingemar Johansson stretched over three years (1959-1961); the two between Patterson and Sonny Liston over two years (1962-1963), as was also true for the two bouts between Liston and Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) (1964-1965). Then, the Tax Reform Act of 1964 cut the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent effective in 1965. The result: two heavyweight title fights in 1965, and five in 1966.
What action needs to be taken by the West Virginia Legislature is to pass a zero percent tax on the sport of boxing in the Mountain State. Here is why:
- Help strengthen West Virginia casinos' completive edge to attract major bouts.
- It would support the hotel, leisure and tourist industries.
- Even playing field with Nevada.
- Federal taxes are high, at 39.6 percent or above.
- Allow West Virginia to move up second behind Nevada at the site of the most fights in U.S.
Boxing is a business. It could be big business in West Virginia.