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 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 medical equipment.

No boxing organisation gave them any financial help at all - for anything!

It does make one wonder just how many other boxers’ families, who have suffered a similar tragic event, have been treated so poorly by the boxing organizations.


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