Despite being suspended twice for out-of-control behavior, a local youth boxing coach continues to coach kids as young as eight years old at a Boston-run gym.
One incident involving coach Tom Lee was captured on video. It shows him screaming at officials after his boxer, who is also his son, comes in second place. He grabs a trophy meant for his son and smashes it into the canvas, breaking it into pieces.
“You ought to be ashamed of yourself. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. And you ought to be ashamed of yourself,” Lee yelled, pointing at different officials.
“That's great, really good example for your kid,” one unidentified member of the audience yells.
There's a pattern of Lee not setting a good example, according to letters written by USA Boxing, the national governing body of amateur boxing.
After another bout in 2009, when Lee's female boxer lost, "an angry Mr. Lee had an outburst of profanity” and while still at ringside "engaged in a series of insults and cussing about his officials”, telling one "that was a f&@#$%@ disgrace".
Lee admitted to USA Boxing his actions were “less than sportsmanlike" but the organization questioned whether Lee was truly remorseful. Lee was suspended for four months with another 12 months hanging over his head, and USA Boxing suggested he consider taking an anger management course.
During his suspension, Lee got in trouble again.
Then, Lee confronted an official who disqualified one of Lee's boxers for unsportsmanlike conduct. According to the official, "an angry Tom Lee confronted him with clinched fists and said, ‘what the f&#! was that all about?’"
USA Boxing imposed the remaining twelve months of Lee's sentence, writing "Tom Lee should seriously contemplate how his use of obscenities and his lack of control appear to be rubbing off on his boxers." and that "Tom Lee is not fit to be a member of USA Boxing at this time."
USA Boxing reinstated Lee in September.
“Shines badly on the sport. Shines badly on the individual. Sends a bad message to youth and everyone in the crowd,” said Dan Lebowitz, executive director of Sport in Society at Northeastern University.
“If any individual, him or anybody else, operated in that fashion, he is doing diametrically the opposite of what we're hoping for with a person who's representing sport, a particular sport and the concept of sport in general,” he said.
Boxer Rob Espejo says he had a run-in with Lee.
“Total like a pit bull guy,” he said. “Attitude was tough guy.”
Espejo wanted to box at the South Boston Boxing Club, which is supposed to be open to everyone, but says Lee refused to let him.
“He goes, ‘You can't work out here.’ I go, ‘Really?’ And he just walked away,” Espejo said.
FOX Undercover caught up with Lee at recent fight night in Watertown.
“Do you have a problem controlling your anger?” asked FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet. “There are numerous reports of you dropping f bombs. We have video of you throwing a trophy.”
“Are you setting a bad example for your boxers,” Beaudet asked as Lee walked away without answering.
As Lee was leaving, an acquaintance said, “All I want to say is he doesn't want to be interviewed and he's going to protect his legal interests.”
“Mr. Lee, you're based out of a city building. Do you really think you belong there given your history?” Beaudet asked, but Lee put his jacket over his head and kept walking.
Daphne Griffin, executive director of Boston Centers for Youth and Families, said the city was unaware of Lee's suspensions until asked about it by FOX Undercover.
“One of the things we do take into consideration is that there are some positive impacts that are happening with young people. I mean we have not received one complaint from anyone involved in the program,” Griffin said.
The Boston Centers for Youth and Families runs the Curley Community Center, where the South Boston Boxing Club is based.
“There's a pattern here of unsportsmanlike conduct. Is that acceptable?” asked FOX Undercover’s Beaudet.
“It's not acceptable from coaches, boxers, our own staff,” Griffin replied.
“Then why is he allowed to continue working at the Curley Center?” Beaudet asked.
“Well I think that's something we're looking into literally right now,” Griffin said.
Griffin says Lee should have notified the city about his suspensions, which would have led to an earlier investigation and possible suspension.
Griffin wants anyone who has a complaint about Lee to contact her.
FOX Undercover received a letter from Dan Long, who coaches with Lee, who said the South Boston Boxing Club has remained open only because of Lee’s dedication.
Long goes on to criticize FOX Undercover for showing the video from 2007, saying it was a distant error in judgment.
There’s no mention, though, of the two suspensions Lee received from incidents that took place after that video was recorded.