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Tuesday, February 5, 2002
Frazier sues casino over use of his image

Associated Press

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Joe Frazier is suing the Oneida Indian Nation for $16 million, claiming the tribe's Turning Stone Casino used his image without permission to promote his daughter's fight against Muhammad Ali's daughter last year.

The lawsuit claims Frazier has never allowed anyone to use his likeness to promote commercial gambling and that the casino and tribe "knowingly, intentionally, maliciously and unjustly profited from their improper commercial advertising."

"He was outraged by it," Frazier's attorney, H. Todd Bullard, said Tuesday.

Frazier saw his photo on gambling tables when he attended the June 8 fight between Jacqui Frazier-Lyde and Laila Ali, the lawsuit said. Ali won the fight.

Oneida representative Ray Halbritter, casino marketing manager Dwayne Stitzer, and Edward Brophy, boxing promoter and executive director of the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, are also defendants in the suit, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Syracuse.

"This came as a surprise to the Oneida Nation, especially after all that the Turning Stone Casino Resort has done for the Frazier family," Oneida spokesman Mark Emery said.

"The nation is confident that the suit is without merit and continues to analyze it," Emery said.

Brophy was not immediately available for comment. Stitzer said he did not remember Frazier's photo being used on gaming tables or other promotions.

The lawsuit included photos showing gaming tables with Joe Frazier's 1971 boxing picture superimposed behind a picture of his daughter.

Frazier's picture was used on programs, leaflets, souvenirs, mailings and party favors that the casino's promoters showed to "high rollers and other gambling customers to induce them" to attend the match, the suit said.

Frazier was heavyweight champion in the late 1960s and early 1970s and fought Muhammad Ali in three memorable heavyweight battles -- winning once and losing twice.

The lawsuit seeks $7 million in compensatory damages and $9 million in punitive damages.