03 Nov 3 November 2022
In this issue of zoom-in brief, Jake Paul sued over match-fixing comments, teenage chess prodigy issues $100m libel claim over cheating allegations, and Cardi B cleared over use of tattoo image on mixtape cover.
Jake Paul sued over match-fixing comments
It has been reported that Matchroom boxing promoter Eddie Hearn and boxing judge Glenn Feldman have issued a defamation claim in New York against Youtuber Jake Paul over claims that Matchroom paid off Feldman. Matchroom and Hearn are seeking damages of over $100m, while Feldman is thought to be seeking over $75,000.
Feldman is a well-known judge, and has presided over 1200 matches, including those featuring Floyd Mayweather, Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua.
The lawsuit follows Paul’s interview with IFL TV last month in which he claimed Feldman was paid by Matchroom to judge bouts in favour of that promotion’s fighters. “Clearly, this guy [Feldman] is getting paid money by Matchroom Boxing”, Paul claimed.
It is believed that relationships soured between Paul and Hearn after he described him as an “average boxer”.
The filing is reported to claim that “[Jake Paul’s] statements have harmed Feldman’s reputation in the public, impute the commission of a crime, and/or call into question Feldman’s fitness to perform his work in his trade and profession”. Hearn told IFL TV “We take this very seriously; he’s accused us of corruption, of committing a crime and of paying a judge. It’s the most moronic statement anyone can ever make and it’s massively defamatory to our business. It affects us in a significant manner and it will be rectified and it will be dealt with.” They seek punitive and exemplary damages.
Although Paul has not yet formally responded to the claim, he told MMAJunkie “I’m not even focused on it, I have this fight [against Anderson Silva] coming up October 29 and my lawyers are dealing with that so I haven’t even put any thought into it… I don’t care as I get sued all the time for stupid s***, I’m 5-0 in lawsuits and 5-0 in the ring. I’ve got all the time and money in the world so I’m just focused on October 29.”
Paul beat Silva after eight rounds on Saturday night, his sixth professional win of his boxing career.
Teenage chess prodigy issues $100m libel claim over cheating allegations
Grandmaster Hans Neimann has issued a defamation claim for $100m against various defendants including the Norweigan five-time World Chess Champion Magnus Carlsen and his companies PlayMagnus and Chess.com.
On 4 September 2022, Neimann beat Carlsen at the in-person Sinquefield Cup chess tournament in St. Louis, Missouri. In the court filing (which Neimann posted on Twitter) he claims that Carlsen then spoke to Michael Khodarkovsky, the Executive Director of the Grand Chess Tour, and demanded that Neimann be disqualified from the tournament for cheating. When this request was refused, Carlsen allegedly convinced Khodarkovsky to implement strict anti-cheating measures, which Neimann claimed would suggest to the chess community that there was a legitimate basis to suspect that one of the players had cheated.
The following day, Carlsen allegedly announced his sudden withdrawal from the tournament in a tweet, which embedded a video of José Mourinho referring to a referee decision in which he states “I prefer really not to speak. If I speak, I am in big trouble”. Neimann claims that this combination of events would convey to the general public that Carlsen withdrew because Niemann cheated.
Following Carlsen’s withdrawal, Chess.com banned Niemann from its website, deleted his slack account and banned him from participating in Chess.com events after an internal investigation allegedly revealed evidence of cheating in online games. Neimann claims that this added credibility to the cheating claims.
Neimann cites various articles in the days following Carlsen’s tweet, in which chess commentators and celebrities with substantial followings repeat the allegation and question whether there was any foul play.
He also refers to videos posted by another defendant to the claim – the formerly second-highest ranked chess player in the world, Hikaru Nakamura – in which he repeats the allegations of cheating and claimed that Niemann was banned twice from Chess.com for cheating. Neimann says that this latter claim is also false but apologised for using a chess engine when he was 12 and 16 to calculate the optimal next move at a handful of non-FIDE-sanctioned events.
Niemann and Carlsen played each other again on 19 September 2022 at the Julius Baer Generation Cup. Carlsen resigned after only one move in what is claimed to be a protest at Neimann’s participation. Neimann claims that this further sent a message to the public that Niemann had cheated and goes on to allege that Carlsen then repeated the allegation in interviews with chess commentators and further claimed that he was cheating with the help of one of his mentors. Neimann states that Nakamura further repeated these claims.
On 26 September Carlsen purportedly issued a statement in which he explicitly accused Neimann of cheating ‘more – and more recently – than he has publicly admitted’ and refused to play him again.
Neimann, described in the filing as a ‘self-taught prodigy’ who has financially supported himself since he was 16 by teaching chess and participating in tournaments, claims that the defendants have inflicted ‘devastating damages’ on his reputation, career and life by their claims, and that they unlawfully colluded to ‘blacklist him from chess’. He claims that, since the allegations were made, he has had competition invitations revoked, games cancelled and is now struggling to obtain employment as a chess teacher at a reputable school.
Neimann relies on numerous findings of officials and experts to support his claim that there is no evidence that he cheated or lied about his past online play.
Chess.com denies that Carlsen asked or influenced the decision to shut down Niemann’s account. Carlsen also denies the allegations.
Carlsen’s attorney Craig Reiser told CNBC: “Hans Niemann has an admitted history of cheating and his lawsuit is nothing more than an attempt to deflect blame onto others… His legal claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them.”
zoom-in previously reported that Kevin Brophy Jr was suing the Grammy award-winning rapper Cardi B (whose real name is Belcalis Almanzar) and her former manager over an image used on the cover of her breakout mixtape ‘Gangsta Bitch Music Vol 1’. The photo showed Cardi B drinking from a beer bottle while a man with a distinctive tattoo of a tiger fighting a snake appeared to perform oral sex on her.
Brophy did not appear in the image but said the tattoo photoshopped onto the model belonged to him. He sued for $5m over the alleged misuse of his likeness. He also sought an injunction.
The four-day trial was heard earlier this month in Santa Ana, California, with throngs of teenage fans attending the courthouse each day. The evidence took a comical turn when Brody described how he sent a cease-and-desist letter to the singer but heard nothing back, to which Cardi responded that checking the mail is for ‘old people’. Cardi B threw doubt on the humiliation claimed by Brophy in the filing, stating “He hasn’t gotten fired from his job… he hasn’t gotten a divorce… how has he suffered? He’s still in a surf shop at his job.” She said that, to the contrary, the proceedings had caused her to miss her child’s first steps.
The court heard that a photo-editing software was used to overlay the tattoo design – which had appeared in magazines – onto the male model.
Following an afternoon of deliberations, the jury returned a verdict in favour of Cardi B. Speaking to Associated Press after the hearing she said “I wasn’t sure if I was going to lose or not… I told myself if I win, I was going to cuss Mr. Brophy out. But I don’t have it in my heart to cuss him out.”
Brophy’s lawyer told Artnet News: “Mr. Brophy is a stand up human being. It may be best for the Brophy family’s ability to put this behind them.”
The parties shook hands after the verdict and Brophy told reporters that he respects Cardi B as an artist.
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