Jay Larkin, a former Showtime boxing boss who later unsuccessfully tried to turn around the short-lived International Fight League
, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 59.
Larkin took over as the acting CEO and President of the IFL in Nov. 2007, over a year into the company's existence. The executive tried to rebound the company's sagging fortunes by getting rid of the cartoonish team names, instead favoring a camp approach, controlling costs and attempting to appeal to more fans. But he also earned the wrath of many MMA fans by making controversial comments that while largely aimed at the UFC, reflected poorly on the sport.
Once, in an interview with Multichannel News
, Larkin criticized mixed martial arts fans as a group only interested in the barbaric nature of the sport.
"I do believe the fans are drawn by the blood. They are drawn by it," he said. "That provokes the obvious question, How far do you go? I'm sure that I could sell out any arena in the world by having a public beheading. How far do you go to cater to the whim of the public. A lot of the scenes that I'm seeing in MMA remind me of the public executions they had in the 18th century in Europe."
Later, in an interview with Portfolio
, Larkin lamented the existence of an important part of MMA, jiu-jitsu, saying, "To me, two guys rolling around on the floor is tedious, like watching gay foreplay."
While the comments upset many MMA fans, the promotion, which was the first to appear on broadcast TV when it signed a deal with MyNetworkTV in 2007, didn't last much longer. It ultimately lost over $30 million in its two-year existence.
Prior to his short run in MMA, Larkin had a successful stint in the boxing world
, and was instrumental in developing the Showtime boxing division in 1986.
During his two-decade career in boxing, he oversaw bouts involving legends including Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield and Julio Cesar Chavez.
Larkin is survived by his wife Lisa, and two sons, Ryan and Gabriel.