In the tragic aftermath of Johnny Owen’s death, the WBC made it known that his life
was insured for $50,000. What they never revealed was that Owen’s
parents were never entitled to any payment as a result of his death.
When Owen entered the ring last September 19th to fight Lupe
Pintor for the WBC’s bantamweight championship, the WBC claimed that
their much publicized insurance program provided for hospital expenses
of up to $100,000 AND a payment on death of $25,000.
However, a senior
official of the insurers, American Home Insurance in San Francisco, told
a reporter from a British newspaper that the policy was, in fact,
limited to $25,000. Moreover, the policy would pay off to the
beneficiaries only AFTER any other policy held by the boxer had been
exhausted. And, finally, that if the policy was required to meet the
hospital expenses then these costs, too, would be deducted from any
possible death benefits to be paid out. Therefore, when Owen died after
a prolonged coma, American Home was liable for meeting his $94,000 in
hospital bills, there being no other policy in effect. And because that
$94,000 exceeded the $50,000 face value of the policy paying death
benefits, no payment was made to the parents.
Owen’s estate then
looked to the California State Commission for death benefits. But here a
catch 22 proviso prevented Owen’s parents from receiving anything. For
the California State Commission does not cover a boxer’s hospital
costs. Those are supposedly by something called the Boxers & Wrestlers
Benefit Fund on whose behalf one percent was deducted from Owen’s purse.
However, this did not cover Owen UNTIL the hospital expenses provision
for $100,000 was exhausted - and was not applicable in case of death
because of the WBC’s policy which “supposedly” covered death benefits.
But that is not the
end of the story. For the WBC, despite holding up insurance coverage,
faces yet another problem. The carrier, American Home. now threatens to
drop the policy when the second year ends, having paid out $94,000 on
Owen, another $25,000 to the relatives of the deceased Cleveland Denny
who died on the undercard of the Duran-Leonard fight in Montreal and yet
another $80,000 for the hospitalization of Fred Bowman, who was severely
injured in a bout. The premium for the policy is $300 for each WBC
championship. The carriers have figured out that it’s not smart business
to give more than you receive.
Comment by Johnnyowen.com:
Dick and Edith Owens,
Johnny’s parents, did not receive a penny from
any boxing organization after the death of their son.
A fund was
organized locally - initially to help pay for Johnny’s mother to fly out
to L.A. to be at her sons bedside. Within no time at all people from all
across the U.K. (and indeed the world) were generously donating money to
the fund. When John died the fund stood at approx. £150,000, which
John’s parents decided, along with other members of the fund committee,
to donate to the local hospital to pay for much needed