U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Reporter assaulted by heavyweight boxer during on-camera interview

Incident Details

Date of Incident
March 23, 2019


Public figure
Was the journalist targeted?
Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

The California State Athletic Commission recently reinstated the boxing license of Kubrat Pulev, seen here at a 2017 press conference, following his suspension for forcibly kissing and groping a reporter.

— Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge
March 23, 2019

A heavyweight boxer forced a kiss on a reporter during an on-camera interview following a match in Costa Mesa, California, on March 23, 2019.

Jennifer Ravalo, a Vegas Sports Daily contributor and web host who uses the byline Jennifer SuShe, was conducting a video interview following Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev’s knockout victory when he grabbed her face, reached around her back and kissed her on the lips.

In the video of the incident, Ravalo initially appears to laugh it off, saying, “All right, thank you,” as Pulev walks away. Ravalo later lodged a complaint with the California State Athletic Commission asserting that the kiss was without her consent and unwelcome. Ravalo also said Pulev sexually harassed her a second time, moments after the interview.

“I was immediately shocked and embarrassed, and didn’t know how to respond,” Ravalo said while reading from a prepared statement at a press conference following the incident. “Next, I walked to the table to put my items in my backpack. He grabbed both of my buttocks and squeezed with both of his hands. Then he walked away without saying anything to me and laughed.”

The commission suspended Pulev’s boxing license for six months in May, the New York Daily News reported, citing him for violating rules prohibiting conduct considered a “discredit to boxing.” Pulev was also fined $2,500 and ordered to attended a sexual harassment awareness course.

On July 22, the commission voted unanimously to lift the suspension on Pulev with the caveat that another violation could result in a lifetime suspension.

“It’s disappointing he didn’t do the full six months,” Ravalo said. “I don’t know if he’s really sorry. I won’t know until I see how he acts.”

Attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Ravalo, has also spoken out against comments made by Pulev’s promoter, Bob Arum, Reuters reported. In an interview on iFL TV posted to YouTube on June 15, Arum claimed that Ravalo had been “fooling around” with Pulev ahead of the fight in March and that Pulev’s suspension was “totally crazy” as he “did nothing wrong.”

Allred called the statement “blatantly false,” pointing to the fact that both Pulev and Ravalo testified before the commission that they first met at the weigh-in the day before the fight, The Washington Post reported.

Ravalo told KPBS that the incident and subsequent fallout has negatively impacted her career. Arum and his promotion company, which represents almost 100 boxers, will not allow her to cover their events and some boxers have been standoffish about providing interviews, she said.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].