Think boxing's bad today? Dan Parker told us how bad it was 45-years ago

                        I SAY THE BOXING BUSINESS SMELLS

(Ring Magazine, June 1953)

By Dan Parker

Thomas Edison, a man of vision, probably had no idea when he staged a fight
between James J. Corbett and Peter Courtney in his kinetoscope studio at
Orange, New Jersey, in 1894, that he was turning loose a creature of his own
making which, six decades later, would develop into a greedy destructive
monster. The Corbett-Courtney battle (which Corbett won, incidentally) was
the first fight movie ever recorded. That greedy destructive monster today 
is television, and it has the sport, despite a superficial appearance of
prosperity, hanging limply on the ropes.

Like the fledgling cowbird, TV has moved into boxing, taken complete charge
and is draining the sport of all its vitality. The consequences presently
making themselves evident to the nation are:

1) The blood sacrifice of promising youngsters before they can be developed
properly (thus forcing out of business most of the fight clubs that were
spawning grounds of the future champions).

2) The worst grade of matchmaking ever tolerated in American boxing.

3) Complete domination by the omnipresent International Boxing Club.

4) Control of all the worthwhile boxers by a small clique of subservient
managers, some of them notorious underworld figures.

5) Such an alarming deterioration of the sport that its extinction or, at
best, its reduction to the status of a carnival show is inevitable unless
vital steps are taken soon to excise the cancer gnawing at its vitals.

The blame for this toothy state of affairs rests on the ever-willing shoulders 
of the International Boxing Club, the syndicate which bought out Mike Jacobs
in 1949. The IBC is an octopuslike organization operating on basic
principles: crush all competition; get all there is to get while the gettin's 
good. It exerts its authority in every major boxing center in America and it 
ties up all the important fighters.

To complete its monopoly, the IBC has encouraged a small group of managers,
mostly newcomers who know nothing about the art of developing a fighter, to
form an organization of their own, appropriately called the International
Fight Managers Guild. The new guildsmen have been so successful, getting all
the television shots for their fighters, that the New York Guild, made up of
more conservative managers who militantly opposed the IBC's destructive
policies, was forced out of business.

Flourishing along with the IBC is a sinister group of racketeers with police
records who help direct operations, furnishing fighters, suggesting matches
and bringing their weight to bear whenever it is needed. As a result, boxers
who don't want to string along with the IBC's plans just don't get anywhere.
Those who do, get somewhere in a hurry and often that somewhere is oblivion.

Promising prospects are ruined before they have a chance to master the
fundamentals (assuming there's anyone left who can teach them). The process
today is to build a fighter up quickly on setups or fixed matches, then
sacrifice him to fulfill a television commitment.

The case of tarnished hero Chuck Davey is a particularly good one to
illustrate these devious machinations. He's not likely to be the last.

At Michigan State, against amateur competition, Davey did as well with his
fists as he did with a textbook. But among the pros, he figured as just
another preliminary boy, and a southpaw in the bargain. But that was before
the IBC adopted -- and adapted -- him to their purposes. Sizing him up as a
natural for a buildup, the IBC juggernaut went to work with a vengeance.
Tommy King, the IBC's Chicago publicity man, took charge of Davey although 
Hector Knowles, a friend of Tommy's, became manager of record. King's 
connection with Davey became so apparent, however, that the Illinois State 
Athletic Commission compelled King to make a public statement "disassociating" 
himself from the fighter. However, the buildup went merrily along, leading up 
to a payoff match with Chico Vejar in the Chicago Stadium.

Chicago, another collegian (he studies dramatic art, no less) and potential
TV glamor boy, had been getting somewhat the same treatment in the East as
Davey had in the Midwest. Managed by Steve Ellis, a radio and television
commentator employed by the IBC (controlling both fighters, how could the 
dear old IBC lose?), Vejar lost but once in forty-two fights; twenty-four of 
his victories were knockouts.

So what happened? Whenever Davey, since proven to be a powder-puff puncher,
tapped Chico on the stomach, the Stamford, Connecticut product would double
up as if in agony. Davey won an easy decision. But the TV fans, at least the
easterners, weren't buying the verdict. They wanted a return match and the
IBC saw that the order was quickly filled. This time Davey kayoed Vejar in 
the 5th and deflated, for the moment at least, the myth of Mr. Vejar.

That myth was revived somewhat last March when Vejar, belted out by Davey by
blows to the stomach before the Gavilan blood-letting, appeared against
tough young Vince Martinez, boxing's rookie of the year in 1952. The odds 
against "crockery stomach" Chico went from 2-1 to 4-1 at ring time. Chico 
must have been wearing a baseball umpire's chest protector because he took 
all that Martinez could give him in the stomach and won the fight against the 
juicy odds.

The myth of Chuck Davey persisted up to the moment he met Kid Gavilan in the
Chicago Stadium last Frebruary in what was billed as a welterweight
championship match. Before the Gavilan fight, though, a couple of incidents
occurred which, if anyone wished, could have been interpreted as an
indication of Davey's true ability.

As a tuneup for his return go with Vejar, Chuck was permitted to stray off
the well-beaten IBC path and go to Syracuse, New York, to fight an unknown 
named Carmine Basilio. After 10 rounds of torpid battling, Basilio, the 
unknown, was awarded the decision by a 2-1 vote of the officials. However, a 
few minutes after the verdict was rendered there was a further announcement. 
It seems that the referee had failed to mark his card properly and when that 
little oversight had been remedied by a deputy boxing commissioner, in Chuck's
favor naturally, it was found that the bout was a draw.

Davey's last big fight before the Gavilan fiasco was staged with Rocky
Graziano, the ex-middleweight champ. Chuck won the decision but it didn't
impress boxing experts in the least because it was such an obvious handcuff
job for the Rock.

Then came the Gavilan match, and the great disillusionment was completed.
The Kid from Cuba toyed with Davey for the better part of 8 rounds, all but
murdering the defenseless collegian until he finally ended his misery in the
9th. It was as one-sided a beating as ever administered in a welterweight
championship bout.

In the TV merry-go-round something obviously is wrong somewhere. For one
thing, television has created a vast new audience, made up for the most part
of fans who think a left hook is something a fisherman forgot to bring with
him. He believes everything the blurb-happy TV commentators say. These glib
gentlemen, hired by the sponsor and the IBC, naturlaly say only the nicest
things about fighters being built up for future TV bouts. The televiewers,
except for a small percentage of them who know something about boxing, get
an utterly distorted picture of the situation and can have almost any kind of
fistic garbage passed off on them as first-class merchandise. As a result, a
vast new supply of sucker bettors is created -- and the racketeers connected
with the business exploit them to the utmost. The damage done to a nice
young fellow like Davey by the physical and mental beating he has to take 
when he is finally allowed to find out the truth at the hands of a Gavilan is
incalculable.

Another fien old practice the Davey-Gavilan mismatch pointed up is the slick
maneuver of giving the sponsor a full run for his money. It was obvious to
all smart boxing men that Gavilan could have finished Davey in one of the 
early rounds had he so desired. But how would the sponsor manage to get his
commercialsin that case? Not only must the show go on but it must go on and
on and on until the national advertiser who is footing the bill has had full
value for his money. Consequently the early-round knockout is getting to be
a thing of the past.

But probably the worst blight of them all today is the appallingly low
standards of matchmaking. The promoters get away with murder and their well-
paid word slingers gild the garbage until it not only looks like a lily but
smells like one -- until the wind shifts, as it did in Chicago for Davey. As
an offshoot to the Davey buildup, the most horrible examples of deliberate
mismatching can be cited in the three televised bouts in which a youngster
named Fritzie Pruden appeared last year.

Pruden have five fights in 1952 and lost all of them, three by knockouts.
First he contributed to the buildup of Vejar for his two Davey bouts by
losing a decision to Chuck in Madison Square Garden, February 29. Next, he 
was sacrificed to Kid Gavilan, who knocked him out just for practice in
Indianapolis. And the Vejar-Gavilan-Davey round robin was completed on
December 10, 1952, in Cleveland. Pruden was knocked out in 3 rounds by the
fragile Mr. Davey without so much as lifting a pinky in his own defense.
Davey, incidentally, was originally scheduled to meet Del Flanagan, a tough
young battler from St. Paul, but Chuck's management decided Flanagan's style
"was too similar to Chuck's to make a good fight." Between these TV shots,
Pruden met Arthur King twice in Toronto, and lost twice. The fact that his
manager, Honest Bill Daly, and King's manager, Blinky Palermo, are business
associates in the boxing field, was, of course, only a coincidence.

The camaraderie among the tight little group of managers whose fighters
monopolize the television screen is generally attributed to the influence of
a gentleman named Frankie Caqrbo, who operates behind the misty IBC scenes.
President of the IBC is James Dougan Norris, son of the late Jim Norris,
Chicago wheat and shipping magnate. His chief partner of record in the
enterprise is Art Wirtz, long associated with him in the operation of ice-
skating shows and hockey arenas. Joe Louis is a nominal partner, drawing a
weekly salary as reward for turning over the heavyweight title, pugilism's
most valuable single asset, to "Monopoly Inc."

But it's impossible to discuss operations of the IBC without bringing in the
name of Frankie Carbo. A man who has beaten many raps in his day, Frankie
seems to bear a charmed existence. Laws have been passed, especially aimed
at him without deterring him in the least from going about his business and
acting as goombar or Sicilian godfather of prize fighters. He has connections
with boxing men and gamblers from coast to coast and is known as the most
skillful manjipulator in the history of the fight racket. No one can touch
Frankie at putting over an upset at juicy odds.

Evidence the New York State Crime Commission secured by wire tapping
indicates that Carbo has a voice in the matchmaking decisions of the IBC. He 
is supposed to have named the last to matchmakers at Madison Square Garden 
and has been known to give them orders. No one knows how many fighters the 
tight-lipped Carbo has a piece of or how often two Carbo warriors square off 
against each other in a "grudge" battle for the entertainment of televiewers 
most of whom, incidentally, haven't the slightest inkling that such a person 
exists. The Manhattan District Attorney's office had Carbo before a Grand Jury 
that was investigating the boxing racket a few years ago and drew from him the
admission that he had deposited $300,000 in a New York bank during a nine-
month period in 1945. More recently he was indicted for refusing to answer
questions at a New York State Crime Commission hearing but was acquitted.

Carbo's hand is much in evidence in the creation of the International Fight
Manager's Guild. Since the International Guild came into being, all the
boxing business that amounts to anything is done by a dozen managers who work 
in complete harmony with the IBC and the sponsors. Here are the managers whose
fighters get most of the TV gravy:

FRANK (BLINKY) PALERMO, Philadelphia numbers racketeer whose stable includes
Clarence Henry, Coley Wallace and Dan Bucceroni, three promising heavyweight
contenders; Arthur King, Johnny Saction and Waddell Hanna. Wallace and
Saxton were developed as amateurs by Bill Miller, an old-time Negro boxer and
trainer, but Blinky has since frozen him out of the picture. Palermo's pugs
had seventeen television assignments last year.

LOU VISCUSI, a soft-spoken but shrewd veteran who rode into prominence with
Willie Pep, ex-featherweight champion. Viscusi manages Del Flanagan, Bobby
Dykes, Cleveland Williams, Charley Riley, Joe Brown, Danny Nardico and
Johnny Cesaario. His stable had a total of fourteen bouts on TV during the 
year.

HONEST BILL DALY, associate of Blinky Palermo, whose string includes Fritzie
Pruden, Jimmie Flood, James J. Parker, Ronnie Delaney, Vince Martinez, Gus
Rubicini, Johnny Cerky and Joe Blackwood. He also makes matches for George
Araujo. Daly's fighters had ten TV bouts in '52.

HYMIE (THE MINK) WALLMAN, a furrier with no background in boxing, has come
up with the busiest TV stable. He has Johnny Bratton, Cesar Brion, Luther
Rawlings, Orlando Zulueta, Randy Sandy, Dave Davey and Raul Perez. Various
IBC gentlemen, including Mr. Carbo, are supposed to own part or all of Hymie's
gladiators. The furtive furrier has a fighter on almost every IBC television
show. Last January 28, he really hit the jackpot when Rawlings and Zulueta,
two of his boys, fought each other. It was a main eventer, kept off
television while the IBC and sponsors tried two 6-round semifinals between 
"new talent" boxers, in an attempt to revive the moribund box office. 
Wallman's fighters had sixteen TV shots last year.

TEX SULLIVAN, one-time office boy for various managers, now fronting for
Tommy (Eboli) Ryan, whose license was revoked after he assulted referee Ray 
Miller in the Madison Square Garden ring. Sullivan handles Rocky Castellani 
for Ryan, and also manages Joey Giambra, Jackie O'Brien and Miguel Borrios. 
His boys were on TV eight times last year.

GEORGE (MOUNT) PARNASSUS, who does the bookings for Enrique Bolanos, Henry
Davis, Fabela Chavez, Charley Salas and Tommy Harrison, had six TV
assignments in 1952.

CHARLEY JOHNSTON, who deserted the presidency of the New York Managers Build
to become head of the International group of managers. He manages Archie
Moore, the light heavyweight champion, and Sandy Saddler, the featherweight
titleholder, as well as Livio and Aldo Minelli, Italo Scortichini and Paolo
Rosi. Scortichini and Rosi, untried importations from Italy, had hardly lost
their sea legs when they were hustled onto television. Last year his stable
had three TV plums.

IRVING (BABY BLUE EYES) COHEN, manager of record for Billy Graham, Irish Bob
Murphy, Walter Cartier, Rocky Graziano, Gene Smith and Jimmy DeLenge, wound
up with eleven television matches for the eyar.

WILLIE KETCHUM, a Carbo front man, handles lightweight champ Jimmy Carter,
Gerry Dreher, Roy Wooters and Irving Palesky. He drew four TV spots in '52.

There are about a half dozen other managers with only one fighter -- usually
a champion or top contender -- and they get taken care of, also. Angel Lopez,
a night-club owner, is manager of record for Kid Gavilan, although Carbo and
Al Weill are said to hold a piece of the Cuban. From behind the scenes
(everything of import in boxing goes on behind the scenes) Carbo, and his
friend Eddie Coco, the man behind Joe Micelli and Rocky Graziano, handle the
affairs of Jake LaMotta. Coco, incidentally, won a new trial last January
from the Florida Supreme Court after appealing a life sentence for second-
degree murder in connection with the slaying of a Negro parking-lot attendant 
in Miami.

Jack Kearns, who managed Jack Dempsey in his prime, figured in the IBC
picture while his Joey Maxim was light heavyweight champion. He is reputed 
to have exacted a share of Archie Moore's contract as the price for giving 
Archie the opportunity to win the light heavyweight crown away from Maxim. 
Other managers who are able to nibble the TV pie include Mike Mele, manager 
of Negro deaf-mute Eugene Hairston; Johnny Buckley of Boston who has Red 
Priest and Norman Hayes; Sam Finazzo, a power in the Detroit rackets who 
is Les Felton's goombar; and Joe Netro of Syracuse, manager of Joey DeJohn 
and Carmine Basilio, a couple of lads who enjoy the patronage of Signor 
Carbo.

(to be concluded in The BAWLI Papers No. 32)