BROOKLYN (CN) — After organizers of a boxing event would not let him in the ring because of his leg amputation, a personal-injury lawyer certified in Krav Maga is taking them to court with discrimination claims.
"And if I let you fight, then what? I have to let a double amputee fight also?"
Norman Steiner of Scarsdale, New York, says that is what he heard when he was unceremoniously given the boot earlier this month from a monthly match-up organized by USA Boxing.
"Steiner is able to box, and his ability to defend himself, balance, and use the authorized headgear and gloves is not affected by his leg amputation," the Oct. 14 complaint filed in Kings County Supreme Court states.
At age 56, Steiner is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces, the military force credited with developing the self-defense system Krav Maga. An online profile for Steiner with the Berkman Law Office says the attorney lost his leg after a motorcycle accident.
The device outfitted for Steiner's above-the-knee amputation made him "the first non-active-duty military veteran to receive this prosthetic," according to the complaint.
In addition to his Krav Maga instruction certification, Steiner says USA Boxing licensed him to box.
At Gleason's Gym in Brooklyn, Steiner "has trained with WBA Super Welterweight Champion Yuri Foreman and former professional fighter and Olympic star Pedro Saiz," the complaint states.
Steiner says he trained extensively before requesting an appropriate opponent for a monthly series that USA Boxing would hold at Gleason's.
Four days ahead of the Oct. 15, 2016, match, Steiner allegedly learned at 10 a.m. that he would be sparring with a 62-year-old.
About six hours later, however, "Steiner was advised that the defendant USA Boxing Inc. had refused to allow Steiner to compete at the October 15, 2016 sanctioned event because of his amputation," the complaint states.
Steiner says the bigoted remarks he heard from USA Boxing's executive director demonstrates a bias toward disabilities.
"Evidently [the executive director] is not aware that people overcome disabilities," the complaint states.
"Plaintiff believes that if he has the training and skills to compete in a boxing match, and if he is medically cleared to fight, he should be permitted to fight like anyone else, being judged for his skills and talents as an amateur boxer, rather than by his disability," it continues.
Claiming that the boxing agency's medical rules allow him to box, Steiner notes that musculoskeletal deficiencies disqualify boxers from the ring only "if they inhibit the boxer's defense, balance or ability to use the authorized headgear or gloves."
Steiner says he met all those requirements.
The attorney seeks damages for discrimination. He is represented by Robert Tolchin, a fellow attorney at the Berkman Law Office.
Unwilling to comment on legal matters, a spokeswoman with USA Boxing offered Monday to refer the company's attorney for comment.
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