On This Day: Sugar Ray Robinson wins the St Valentine’s Day Massacre

Old rival Jake LaMotta cannot cope with Sugar Ray Robinson this time, writes Sam Corbishley

THE greatest ever, Sugar Ray Robinson, 30, was a 3-1 betting favourite going into the fight at the Chicago Stadium on February 14, 1951 against the 29-year old champion, Jake LaMotta, from the Bronx.

THE 14,802 crowd that night produced a net gate of $138,938 – the champion LaMotta took 45 per ecent of this earning him $62,522 plus $1,500 from sales of television and radio rights, Sugar Ray’s 15 per cent share pocketed him $20,840 to go with his equal share of the television money.

THIS was the sixth, and final, meeting between the pair. Robinson had won four of the previous five, but LaMotta was the first man to have defeated Sugar Ray in 41 fights back in February 1943.

IN our preview, Boxing News stated that this was the one great advantage in LaMotta’s favour – the fact that he was the only man to have beaten Robinson as a professional. Were Sugar Ray to win, it was expected that he would relinquish his 10st 7lbs honours and concentrate on the middleweight division.

BOXING NEWS stated in its fight report that LaMotta held his own during the early rounds and in the fourth fought back furiously, but the easy moving Robinson cleverly evaded LaMotta’s storming two-handed assaults to the body.

AFTER surviving a punishing two-handed barrage in the seventh and eighth rounds, Robinson cut LaMotta’s eye with a furious counter attack to the head and body in the following session. The champion made another desperate effort to break through in the 11th but Robinson, with cool, superb covering and countering, reduced LaMotta’s efforts to wild, unsuccessful bursts.

THROUGH the remainder of this round, and the following session, blood streamed from facial cuts as he groped round the ring lunging forward with powerless punches. Groggy, helpless LaMotta was sagging at the knees, desperately holding his rival in an effort to avoid a knockout defeat as Robinson punched away at will when the referee intervened.

AT THE TIME of the stoppage, referee Frank Sikora had Robinson ahead 63-57, Franklin McAdams had it 65-55 and Ed Klein scored it 70-50 all for Sugar Ray.

AS A RESULT of the beating LaMotta took in the later rounds, where he absorbed as severe a beating as any man had ever taken in the ring without falling to the canvas, the fight became known as the ‘St Valentine’s Day Massacre’.

IT was at the end of this battle that the groggy and defiant Bronx Bull muttered: “You never got me down, Ray” and later famously said: “I fought Sugar Ray so often, I almost got diabetes.” This win was the first middleweight title for Robinson, who would capture the title four more times over the next nine years before retiring in 1965 as the greatest fighter in the history of the sport.

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Posted on 11:56 am

ในวันนี้: สิบชื่อวันวาเลนไทน์ต่อสู้กับ Evander Holyfield และอีกมากมาย

รายชื่อการต่อสู้ชื่อ “โลก” 10 รายการที่เกิดขึ้นในวันที่ 14 กุมภาพันธ์กับอีแวนเดอร์โฮลีฟิลด์และการต่อสู้ชื่อ “โลก” มากกว่า 10 รายการที่เกิดขึ้นในวันวาเลนไทน์ นี่คือรายการทั้งหมดด้านล่าง: JIMMY WILDE W RTD 12 JOE SYMONDS – 1916Wales ‘Wilde ได้รับรางวัล IBU รุ่นฟลายเวทที่ Covent Garden ในชัยชนะครั้งที่สองเหนือ Symonds จาก Plymouth SUGAR RAY ROBINSON W RSF 13 JAKE LaMOTTA – 1951 โรบินสันเอาชนะคู่ปรับเก่า LaMotta จนกลายเป็นแชมป์มิดเดิ้ลเวตในการสังหารหมู่วันวาเลนไทน์ที่ชิคาโก JOSE NAPOLES W RSF 15 ERNIE LOPEZ – 1970 ชาวคิวบา Napoles รักษาเข็มขัดนักมวยปล้ำ WBC และ WBA เป็นครั้งที่สามเมื่อเขาหยุด Lopez จาก LA ที่ Inglewood LUIS ESTABA W UD 15 LEO PALACIOS – 1976 ในการป้องกันตำแหน่งไฟต์ฟลายเวท WBA ที่ประสบความสำเร็จครั้งที่สองจาก 11 ของเอสตาบาเวเนซุเอลาได้รับชัยชนะในประเทศบ้านเกิดของเขา EUSEBIO PEDROZA W KO 13 PAT FORD – 1981 ในเมืองปานามาซิตี้บ้านเกิดของเขาเปโดรซ่ายังคงอยู่ในมือของเขาบนสายรัดรุ่นเฟเธอร์เวต WBA เป็นครั้งที่ 11 หลังจากครองฟอร์ดของกายอานา EVANDER HOLYFIELD W RSF 7 HENRY TILLMAN – 1987 Holyfield ยังคงรักษามงกุฎเรือลาดตระเวน WBA ของเขาด้วยการทุบเพื่อนร่วมทีมโอลิมปิกของสหรัฐอเมริกาในปี 1984 ที่เมืองเรโนรัฐเนวาดา BUDDY McGIRT W RSF 12 FRANKIE WARREN – 1988 การต่อสู้ในสนามหลังบ้านของ Warren Texas, New Yorker McGirt ได้รับชัยชนะในการแก้แค้นพร้อมกับ IBF Super-Light Belt ที่ว่าง ROBERT QUIROGA W UD 12 CARLOS MERCADO – 1992 อิตาลีเป็นฉากที่ Texan Quiroga ป้องกันชัยชนะครั้งที่ 4 ของตำแหน่ง IBF super fly ของเขา NATE CAMPBELL W MD 12 ALI FUNEKA – 2009 ฟลอริเดียนแคมป์เบลสูญเสียสายรัดน้ำหนักเบา WBA, IBF และ WBO บนเครื่องชั่งน้ำหนัก แต่ชนะในรัฐบ้านเกิดของเขากับแอฟริกาใต้ Funeka CRISTOBAL CRUZ W UD 12 CYRIL THOMAS – 2009 ทีมเยือนฝรั่งเศสเม็กซิกันครูซป้องกันมงกุฎขนนก IBF ได้สำเร็จเป็นครั้งแรก

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Posted on 10:49 am

เมื่อ Dave Charnley ‘Dartford Destroyer’ นั่งคุยกับ Boxing News


เราเจาะลึกข้อมูลในคลังของ BN เพื่อสัมภาษณ์ Dave Charnley ตำนานผู้ล่วงลับของอังกฤษ ใครคือนักชกชาวอังกฤษที่ยิ่งใหญ่ที่สุดที่ไม่เคยคว้าแชมป์โลก คำตอบมักจะมุ่งเน้นไปที่นักสู้ในยุค 80 และมีผู้ได้รับการเสนอชื่อที่มีค่าควรจากช่วงก่อนหน้านี้ที่ถูกมองข้ามไป – ส่วนใหญ่ฉันคิดว่าเป็นเพราะพวกเขาไม่รู้จักแฟน ๆ สมัยใหม่ ชื่อหนึ่งที่มักถูกลืม แต่ควรรวมไว้ในการอภิปรายอย่างรวดเร็วคือ Dave Charnley ชาร์นลีย์คนถนัดซ้ายเป็นที่รู้จักในนาม “The Dartford Destroyer” ชาร์นลีย์คนถนัดซ้ายพ่ายแพ้ในการชกชื่อเบาของอังกฤษและยุโรป แต่แพ้การเสนอราคาระดับโลกทั้งสองรายการให้กับโจบราวน์ชาวอเมริกันผู้ซึ่งหยุดการแข่งขันในครั้งแรกและผิดพลาด ด้านของการตัดสินใจที่น่าสงสัยในทางกลับกัน ในปี 1970 หกปีหลังจากเดฟเกษียณ – บีเอ็นได้พูดคุยกับอดีตแชมป์เพื่อยึดอาชีพของเขา มันเริ่มต้นได้อย่างไร? ฉันเข้าร่วม Dartford Boys ‘Club ที่เราอาศัยอยู่ตั้งแต่อายุยังน้อยและตอนอายุ 15 ฉันได้รับรางวัล Junior ABA จากนั้นฉันก็ย้ายไปที่ฟิตซ์รอยลอดจ์ ฉันเสียใจที่ต้องออกจากสโมสรในบ้านเกิดของฉัน แต่ตระหนักดีว่าเพื่อที่จะก้าวหน้าอย่างแท้จริงฉันจะต้องอยู่ตรงกลางมากกว่านี้ ดาร์ทฟอร์ดไม่สามารถแสดงได้มากและต้องการประสบการณ์มากมาย ใครเป็นงานอดิเรกที่ยากที่สุดที่คุณเคยพบมา? Tommy Nicholls เป็นประโยชน์เล็กน้อย เรามีช่วงเวลาที่ยากลำบากที่ Manor Place Baths ฉันคิดว่าฉันชนะ แต่มันกลับกลายเป็นอีกทางหนึ่ง ต่อมาทอมมี่ได้รับรางวัลเหรียญทองยุโรปและเหรียญเงินโอลิมปิก เขามีทักษะมากมาย มีคิวเล็กน้อยสำหรับคุณเมื่อเรารู้ว่าคุณกำลังจะโปร โทรศัพท์ของเราจะดังวันละสองสามร้อยครั้ง แต่ขอแนะนำให้ไปกับ Arthur Boggis อาเธอร์และฉันมีเรื่องขึ้น ๆ ลง ๆ เล็กน้อย แต่ฉันคิดว่าเราเป็นหุ้นส่วนที่ดี คุณใช้เวลานานกว่าจะได้เข็มขัด Lonsdale มากกว่าหกปี ฉันเอาชนะโจลูซี่ในปี 57 ดาร์กี้ฮิวจ์ในปี 61 และมอริซคัลเลนในปี 63 ชัยชนะเหนือฮิวจ์ครั้งนี้เร็วที่สุดเท่าที่เคยมีมาในการชกชื่ออังกฤษ ฉันคิดอย่างนั้น ผู้จับเวลามีเวลา 40 วินาทีในนาฬิกาเมื่อนับถอยหลัง Benny Jacobs [Hughes’ manager] มาที่ห้องล็อกเกอร์ของฉันเพื่อแสดงความยินดีกับฉันและพูดติดตลกว่า “ระวังดาร์กี้อยู่ข้างหน้าในตอนจบ” การต่อสู้ที่ยากที่สุดของคุณคืออะไร? ทั้งหมด. คุณต้องเตรียมการเหมือนกันสำหรับแต่ละงาน และการทำงานหนักเป็นการลงโทษร่างกายเพื่อให้ถึงจุดสูงสุด จากการต่อสู้จริงฉันจะบอกว่าฉันทำงานหนักที่สุดในการต่อสู้ครั้งที่สองของโจบราวน์ และจุดจบก็ขมขื่นมาก ผู้ตัดสินที่ดีหลายคนคิดว่าคุณชนะคนนี้ เห็นได้ชัดว่ามีเพียงคนเดียวที่คิดว่าพวกเขาถูกเลียคือทอมมี่ลิตเติ้ลผู้ตัดสิน น่าเสียดายสำหรับฉันนั่นเป็นความคิดเห็นเดียวที่มีความสำคัญ ฉันหายใจไม่ออก คุณกำลังทำอะไรอยู่ตอนนี้? ฉันเป็นคนสร้างสเป็ค ฉันซื้อที่ดินแบบมีกรรมสิทธิ์ได้รับใบอนุญาตก่อสร้างสร้างบ้านขายและดำเนินการต่อไป ฉันยังมี บริษัท ซ่อมบำรุง เราทำทุกอย่างตั้งแต่วางรากฐานก่ออิฐฉาบปูนวางท่อประปาและมุงหลังคา คุณสร้างบ้านกี่หลังตั้งแต่เริ่มต้นเมื่อห้าปีที่แล้ว? มากกว่า 400 คุณมีแนวคิดเกี่ยวกับเกมนี้หรือไม่? การชกมวยเป็นสิ่งที่ดีสำหรับฉันมาก ฉันทำงานหาเงินมาโดยตลอด ฉันไม่จำเป็นต้องขอการสนับสนุนทางการเงินที่สามารถฆ่าธุรกิจใด ๆ ฉันทำงานในวงการมวยเหมือนฉันทำงานอะไร หากสิ่งหนึ่งที่คุ้มค่าควรทำอย่างเดียวก็เพียงพอแล้ว บริษัท พัฒนาอสังหาริมทรัพย์ของ Charnley และธุรกิจอื่น ๆ จะยังคงเติบโตอย่างต่อเนื่องทำให้ชีวิตของเขาประสบความสำเร็จทั้งในและนอกวงการ เขาเสียชีวิตในปี 2555 ตอนอายุ 76 ปี

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Posted on 1:10 pm

ในวันนี้: Naseem Hamed เกิดเมื่อปีพ. ศ. 2517

Sam Corbishley แบ่งอาชีพของ Prince Naseem Hamed ออกเป็น 12 ช่วงเวลาสำคัญกลายเป็นมืออาชีพที่อายุ 18 ปีขึ้นไปและทำสถิติ 36-1 (31) Naseem Hamed ได้รับรางวัล WBC, IBF และ WBO ในรายการเฟเธอร์เวทด้วยประสบการณ์ 10 ปีของเขา อันดับมืออาชีพ นาซใช้เวลาเจ็ดปีในการจุดไฟให้โลกชกมวยด้วยการเดินหน้าด้านท่าทางอวดดีและพลังระเบิด เขาป้องกันแชมป์โลก 3 สมัยรวม 17 ครั้งและมีสถิติ Hall of Fame 16-1 เทียบกับแชมป์ปัจจุบันและอดีตแชมป์ 14 ครั้งในระยะไกล เรากำลังทำ 12 รอบกับ “เจ้าชาย” – และมีไม่มากนักที่สามารถอ้างว่าได้ทำเช่นนั้น 1. เริ่ม – Ricky Beard เป็นชายที่อยู่ในมุมตรงข้ามสำหรับการต่อสู้มืออาชีพครั้งแรกของ Naz เมื่อวันที่ 14 เมษายน 1992 ที่ Mansfield Leisure Centre การต่อสู้จบลงด้วยชัยชนะที่น่าพิศวงสำหรับ Hamed ซึ่งต้องเติมกางเกงขาสั้นของเขาด้วยตะกั่วเพียงเพื่อให้แน่ใจว่าเขาหนักพอที่จะต่อสู้! 2. FIRST WORLD TITLE – สามปีต่อมาที่ Cardiff Arms Park ในวันที่ 30 กันยายน 1995 Hamed ได้รับตำแหน่งแชมป์โลกครั้งแรก (WBO) โดยหยุด Steve Robinson ที่ชื่นชอบในท้องถิ่นในรอบที่แปด โรบินสันป้องกันตำแหน่งของเขาได้สำเร็จเจ็ดครั้งก่อนที่จะเผชิญหน้ากับฮาเหม็ด 3. บูมบูม – ห้าการต่อสู้ต่อมานาซปะทะกับทอมอเมริกันบูมบูมจอห์นสัน จอห์นสันป้องกันสายรัดรุ่นเฟเธอร์เวท IBF ของเขา 11 ครั้งในการต่อสู้ครั้งนั้นที่ New London Arena แต่เช่นเดียวกับโรบินสันก่อนหน้าเขาถูกยิงโดย Hamed ในรอบที่แปด 4. KNOCKOUT – ในการป้องกันตำแหน่งแชมป์รุ่นเฟเธอร์เวท WBO ครั้งที่แปดของเขาฮาเหม็ดปะทะกับโฮเซ่บาดิลโลจอมแกร่งชาวเปอร์โตริโกที่แพ้การแข่งขันระดับโปรเพียงหนึ่งใน 20 รายการ – ฮาเหม็ดกลายเป็นคนแรกที่ทำสถิติแพ้น็อคในรอบที่ 7 ที่เชฟฟิลด์อารีน่าเมื่อเดือนตุลาคม 11 พฤศจิกายน 1997 5. MADISON SQUARE GARDEN – นี่คือสถานที่จัดงานในวันที่ 19 ธันวาคมของปีเดียวกันซึ่งเป็นคืนที่ยิ่งใหญ่ที่สุดของ Naseem เมื่อ “เจ้าชาย” ก้าวออกจากเว็บสามครั้งเพื่อหยุดเควินเคลลีในรอบที่สี่ นับเป็นการป้องกันแชมป์รุ่นเฟเธอร์เวต WBO ครั้งที่เก้าของฮาเหม็ดและการปรากฏตัวครั้งแรกในดินแดนอเมริกา 6. VAZQUEZ – การชกครั้งต่อไปของ Hamed พบกับวิลเฟรโดวาซเกซซึ่งอยู่ในเกมที่ชนะแปดเกมซึ่งรวมถึงการป้องกันตำแหน่ง WBA สี่ครั้งซึ่งนาซจะชนะด้วยการหยุดรอบที่ 7 ที่ไนเน็กซ์อารีน่าหากไม่ได้เป็นของวาซเกซ ถูกปลดออกจากการต่อสู้ 7. SPLIT – การตัดสินใจเป็นเอกฉันท์ของ Naz ต่อ Wayne McCullough ที่ทำด้วยหินแกรนิตในเดือนตุลาคม 1998 จะพิสูจน์ได้ว่าเป็นครั้งสุดท้ายของเขากับโค้ช Brendan Ingle และผู้สนับสนุน Frank Warren 8. ANOTHER INGLE – Paul Ingle อยู่อีกมุมหนึ่งเมื่อวันที่ 10 เมษายน 2542 ที่ MEN Arena สองครั้งก่อนวันที่ 10 ดูเหมือนว่าอิงเกิลสามารถบังคับให้รอดและกลายเป็นคนแรกที่เอาชนะนาซได้ อย่างไรก็ตามฮาเหม็ดกลับมาเป็นที่โปรดปรานของเขาในรอบต่อไปและจบการท้าทายของอิงเกิลด้วยมือซ้ายที่แข็งแกร่ง 9. JOE LOUIS ARENA – Detroit เป็นการตั้งค่าในเดือนตุลาคม 1999 เมื่อ Hamed รวมสร้อยข้อมือ WBO ของเขาเข้ากับ Cesar Soto เวอร์ชัน WBC ในการตัดสินใจเป็นเอกฉันท์ 10. พรมวิเศษ – เป็นเวลาแปดปีแล้วที่ Vuyani Bungu ชาวแอฟริกาใต้ได้ลิ้มรสความพ่ายแพ้และไม่มีใครหยุดยั้งเขาได้ การเข้าสู่เวทีบน ‘พรมวิเศษ’ ‘เจ้าชาย’ ได้เปลี่ยนสถิติอย่างรวดเร็วโดยการหยุดชายของเขาในอันดับ 4 ที่โอลิมเปียในเคนซิงตันเมื่อวันที่ 11 มีนาคม พ.ศ. 2543 11. การเล่นกับไฟ – นั่นคือการท้าทายมาร์โกในเดือนเมษายน 2544 ของนาซ Antonio Barrera ที่ MGM Grand ถูกเรียกเก็บเงิน แม้ว่าเขาจะเป็นตัวเต็งก่อนการแข่งขัน แต่ Hamed ก็ละทิ้งการตัดสินที่เป็นเอกฉันท์หลังจากผ่านไปสิบสองรอบโดยสกอร์การ์ดจะอ่าน 116-111 และ 115-112 สองครั้ง 12. อำลา – Naseem Hamed ต่อสู้อีกครั้งหลังจากการแข่งขัน Barrera แม้จะมีการพูดคุยเบื้องต้นเกี่ยวกับการแข่งขันกับชาวเม็กซิกัน ในการชกระดับมืออาชีพครั้งสุดท้ายเมื่อวันที่ 18 พฤษภาคม พ.ศ. 2545 ฮาเหม็ดดูเสมอกันต่ำกว่าเสมอมานูเอลคาลโวที่ ExCel Arena ของลอนดอนชนะเกือบทุกรอบ มีการพูดถึงการคัมแบ็กมากมายเกี่ยวกับ ‘เจ้าชาย’ แต่มันเป็นการต่อสู้ครั้งสุดท้ายของเขาเมื่ออายุ 28 ปี

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Posted on 10:17 am

Boxing and Frank Sinatra



ANTHONY Martin Sinatra was a prizefighter. His ring name was Marty O’Brien because Italian boxers would use Irish names in the hope that it would endear them to a New York audience. Born in Sicily, he fought out of Hoboken in New Jersey having emigrated several years earlier. According to BoxRec, ‘O’Brien’ debuted in 1910 and wound up winning four and losing six while other records have him at 1-7. There were no listed fights between 1914 and 1920 but O’Brien came back and fought twice more, losing both and bowing out. It is likely that he met his wife, Dolly Garaventa, through another fighter as she was the sister of Dominick Garaventa. But Dominick was into other things besides boxing and was caught up in bootlegging, eventually getting arrested after a shooting incident. ‘O’Brien’ and Dolly were married in 1913 and two years later they had a son, calling him Francis Albert Sinatra. He would be known as Frank Sinatra.

With boxing in the blood and parents who owned a bar, young Sinatra had his share of scrapes. There was a scar above his nose and he’d picked up other damage, to his mouth and ear, later saying: “I was hit more times than a fender in a parking lot.”

He reckoned he got his first boxing gloves at the age of five and the passion never left him.

Frank would say early in his singing career, “My favourite exercise is boxing,” and he could be seen backstage, gloved up and punching heavy bags before he performed. He was a regular at the gyms, where he watched pros spar, and he even had some publicity shots in trunks and gloves. In the detailed Anthony Summers biography, Sinatra: The Life, Summers wrote, “It was even reported that he fought as a semipro in Hoboken clubs.”Obviously there’s no such thing as semipro, but what he might have done is moved around with the gloves on in front of a crowd for a few dollars a time in smokers.

Regardless, plenty have made it clear that Sinatra wasn’t much of a fighter. He didn’t need to be. He was one of the great vocalists but his love for the sport and the respect he had for boxers always shone through.

He forged close relationships with Hall of Fame stars but always wanted to get closer to the action. He bought a stake in New York light-heavyweight and heavyweight contender Tami Mauriello – also known as The Bronx Barkeep – who fought Bruce Woodcock and challenged Gus Lesnevich (twice) and Joe Louis for their world titles. He also had a piece of another heavyweight, Chuck Crowell, who’d fought Buddy Baer and Lou Nova and he managed solid Chicago welterweight Ray Brown, who once went 10 rounds with the brilliant Ike Williams.

Sinatra even tried his hand at promoting, staging the 1947 clash between Jersey Joe Walcott and Joey Maxim. Walcott won with a dull split decision over 10 rounds in front of a crowd of 9,747 at Gilmore Field in Los Angeles. Cary Grant and Mickey Rooney were in the star-studded crowd, Joe Louis boxed a four-round exhibition in a show which was headlined, Will the three Joe’s ever meet? There were pictures of Maxim, Louis and Walcott on the fight poster and it said, “Frank Sinatra presents… for Hollywood Square Garden Inc… The Fight of the Year.”

It was anything but. Even Sinatra would concede that. “I was very disappointed,” Frank would say, “both in the fight and the turnout.”

But despite the downsides, his passion remained. In 1953 he was ringside at White City Stadium in England to watch Randolph Turpin outpoint Charlie Humez over 15 rounds. He had a genuine interest in boxers and a fondness for them. There was one story that he was staying in a hotel where one of the employees shining shoes was a former champion who’d fallen on hard times. As soon as Frank was told who it was, he gave him $1,000.

Sinatra also managed Los Angeles lightweight Cisco Andrade through the 1960s, Andrade was being trained by Al Silvani, who would become close with the singer. They had met in a New York bar years earlier and Sinatra wanted to learn some of the intricacies of the sport. “I took him to Stillman’s and taught him how to throw a punch and how to move,” Silvani said. “He caught on quickly.”

The two were firm friends and they’d travel together. Some saw Silvani has an assistant or his security detail but in the 1970s Silvani, who had bit parts in several Sinatra films, said: “I don’t like the word bodyguard. But if somebody starts to cause trouble, I can take charge.” This was notable because Sinatra had Mob ties so anyone charged with protecting Ol’ Blue Eyes had to be hugely respected.

Incidentally, Silvani’s decorated training career saw him work with Carmen Basilio, Henry Armstrong, Jake LaMotta and Eddie Machen, among many others.

In 1968, Sinatra starred in The Detective, based on Roderick Thorp’s novel, and there were roles for Sugar Ray Robinson and boxing writer George Plimpton. It was said that Sinatra was often part of Robinson’s ever-expanding entourage. Three years later came Sinatra’s most famous ringside experience.

Anybody who was anybody was in Madison Square Garden when Joe Frazier defeated Muhammad Ali in 1971’s Fight of the Century in New York. A-listers, pimps, gangsters… The guestlist was so extravagant only the cream of the crop was allowed in. Sinatra had a press seat and photographed the main event for LIFE magazine. One of his images even made the cover.

Like many at the time, however, Sinatra was not an Ali fan. He had been turned off by Ali’s self-confidence and draft refusal. He’d been ringside at the first fight between Ali [then Cassius Clay] and Sonny Liston, sitting next to Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Gleason, but he would only come around to Ali years later. Ali’s former manager Gene Kilroy reflected on the night Ali met Frazier at The Garden in one of the biggest sporting events of all time.

And there was Sinatra, snapping pictures on the ring apron, the best seat in a packed house, camera in hand.

“Jilly [Rizzo] had a bar in New York called Jilly’s and they auctioned the pictures off and Sinatra signed them and they asked Ali and I to go there and Ali signed the pictures [too],” said Kilroy. “Sinatra liked Ali. He said he didn’t like him at first but everything Muhammad said he would do, Ali did.”

Kilroy was referring to Ali’s braggadocios nature, predicting the round of his opponent’s demise and so forth. It was something the establishment took time to warm to.

“Sinatra was a big Joe Louis fan,” Kilroy added. “He helped Joe many, many times and when Ali fought Larry Holmes in Caesars Palace, Sinatra was appearing there and he was sitting ringside about three rows back and I had a security guard move two chairs over and put them [Louis and Sinatra] right by the ring. Then, Sinatra said that night [after Holmes had beaten the ghost of Ali], ‘There’s a man in a room upstairs, he has nothing to be ashamed of. He’s truly a great man, he has a great heart and he’s a champion in and out of the ring’. That was the tribute Sinatra gave to Ali.”

Sinatra, who as an adolescent had the likes of Jack Dempsey and Gene Tunney to look up to, had seen many of the great heavyweights up close and personal. He was ringside for Rocky Marciano’s 1953 rematch win over Roland LaStarza, saw Ali, Frazier, Floyd Patterson, Liston and others but there was only one who was truly close to his heart and that was Joe Louis. As he wheeled a decrepit Louis into a room for a 1980 benefit evening for the fallen great at Caesars Palace, Sinatra said: “We’ve been friends for about 35 years. [From] the first time I ever saw him… I’ve been cheering him ever since. I think this is long overdue. God bless him. He’s going to have a good time tonight.”

The young Frank Sinatra poses in boxing gloves for a publicity shot. In April of the same year, Sinatra, whose reputation included the occasional public skirmish, allegedly felled New York columnist Lee Mortimer with one punch in retaliation for an insult the writer denied making.

After Louis suffered a stroke, Sinatra had the heavyweight legend flown in his private jet to Texas for the best treatment and rehabilitation money could buy. He told Joe’s wife, Martha, not to give the cost a second thought.

Then, when Louis died, Sinatra spoke at the funeral. “Joe’s biggest fight ended a few days ago,” lamented Sinatra. “And I don’t know how the refs voted yet, but I lay you 100 to 1 he gets a unanimous decision.”

With Joe gone, Sinatra’s passion for the fights remained, taking an interest in the wildly-popular heavyweight Gerry Cooney, who he did some publicity shots with before Cooney fought Larry Holmes, and Ray ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini. The Youngstown lightweight was big business in boxing and Sinatra wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

That the Chairman of the Board, as Sinatra was dubbed, took an interest in him blew a young and impressionable Mancini away. Mancini’s family were Italian immigrants, like Frank’s.

“I got to meet Mr Sinatra through mutual friends not long after I won the title and then when I defended my title in Vegas he said he was going to be there,” explained the former WBA champion. “I was training in Palm Springs and he said he was going to come and watch me train but then he couldn’t make it. So Jilly Rizzo, his right hand guy came, and Jilly told me ‘Mr Sinatra wanted to come but he couldn’t be here, he apologises but he’ll be at your fight in Vegas, he sends his love, his prayers and all that good stuff’. He didn’t have to apologise to me but he wanted to, so I was honoured. Then, of course, I saw him a couple of days before the fight backstage when he was rehearsing for a show, we had a photo, he invited me to the show after the fight, which I went to, and it was a wonderful moment.”

The fight Mancini was referring to had terrible consequences as his Korean opponent Deuk Koo Kim died from injuries sustained that night. “Mr Sinatra was great,” Mancini added. “He’d say to me, ‘Call me Frank’ but it was Mr Sinatra for me.”

After Mancini-Kim, Sinatra still couldn’t shake the boxing bug. Online, you can trace pictures of him hamming it up with dozens of boxing stars, including Esteban DeJesus and Vito Antufermo. He was ringside at the Marvin Hagler-Sugar Ray Leonard superfight in 1987.

It was said that Donald Trump, then helping promote the huge Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks bout in Atlantic City, was arranging the ring to be lower than it usually is so Sinatra wouldn’t have to crane his neck to watch. Frank didn’t even go. But he had been there a couple of fights earlier when Tyson blew away Larry Holmes.

By 1990, however, Sinatra’s health was beginning to falter. He toured in the UK and, recalling a show at Ibrox Stadium, his son Frank Jnr said, “His vision wasn’t what it had been. His hearing wasn’t. His memory wasn’t and he was struggling.”

Sinatra died in 1998.

It had been a goal to make it the millennium but his story was over, and so was his life in boxing.

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Posted on 7:43 pm

Before they were murderers: When Boxing News met the Kray twins

A 1951 article from the Boxing News archives revealed Ron was the more aggressive of the Kray twins and considered how they should be matched. The notorious gangsters of course went in a different direction

IF any ambitious matchmaker is at a loss for a couple of
attractive supporting contests may I suggest the Smiths vs the Krays. Never
heard of them you may say. Quite rightly, neither match will make a lot of
difference to British or even Area championships but it offers probably a
unique opportunity of matching a pair of identical twins.

We have had a glut of boxing brothers recently: the Turpins
and the Buxtons and now within the last few months on to the professional scene
has stepped the Krays, Ron and Reg from Bethnal Green, and Albert and Jackie
Smith from Elland in Yorkshire.

Should the match ever materialise, opticians and doctors in
the district will certainly have a stream of customers for the facial
resemblance of both is amazing.

Tommy Miller, manager of the Smiths, admits he still cannot tell them apart and smiles as he recalls the night of Albert’s professional debut. He shared the verdict and Miller, offering advice after the show, said he should have got the decision. Imagine his surprise at the reply: “I’m Jackie and won!”

The Smiths caused some concern in cadet boxing before joining the army and since their demob have each had three professional contests. Only difference appears to be their weights for the shorter Jackie, who is the eldest by 25 minutes, scales half a stone lighter than his ‘southpaw’ brother. Both are boxing lightweights however.

Such a distinguishing aid for ringsiders is not offered when Bethnal Green’s dark-haired unbeaten lightweights are on view, for although Ron is a little more aggressive than his brother, both have similar styles and always weigh within half a pound of each other. Reg and Ron do everything together. At 10 they made their first appearance in the ring and earned five bob for a fairground exhibition. Two years later they stepped along to the local boxing club and began chalking up an impressive list of victories.

Apart from their fairground exhibition, the 17-year-old
Krays have met on four occasions but except for sparring in the gymnasium those
days are over, for their mother has barred any meeting in a professional ring.

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE KRAYS AND THE SMITHS?REG and Ron Kray had brief careers that started and finished in 1951. Reg’s perfect record was 7-0 (2) while Ron’s was 4-2 (2). The Kray family name became anchored in history as the twins embarked on a London crime spree rivalled only by Jack The Ripper for notoriety. The Krays ruled the gangster underworld until they were arrested in 1968. Charlie Kray, their older brother, also fought professionally. He fought between 1948 and 1951, compiling a record of 11-6-1.

The Smiths, meanwhile, slipped off into the sunset rather more quietly. Both fought until 1952, with Jackie’s record reading 2-4 (1) and Albert faring slightly better at 4-3-1 (3).

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Posted on 11:37 am

Ewart Potgieter – Bigger than Valuev

Although only a novice, Ewart Potgieter’s immense size earned him star billing in Britain in the mid-1950s

JUST over a decade ago, David Haye made worldwide headlines when he relieved Russia’s Nikolay Valuev of his WBA heavyweight crown. The fight garnered great attention, not for its quality but for the gulf in size between 6ft 3in ex-cruiserweight Haye and the 7ft, 316lb Russian. Even in an era of huge heavyweights, Valuev’s bulk was truly staggering. You can imagine, then, the astonishment aroused by the arrival in Britain, back in 1955, of a boxer both taller and heavier than Valuev.

South Africa’s Ewart Potgieter was 7ft 2ins with an astonishing 94in reach, and at his heaviest fighting weight scaled 351lbs. Not your typical prizefighter, “Pottie”, as he was known, came from a well-off farming background. He was persuaded to take up boxing in his early 20s by hotelier Norman Weiner, who spotted the amiable and articulate colossus towering above everyone in his hometown of Vryheid, KwaZulu-Natal. Under Weiner’s management, Pottie had seven bouts in South Africa between July 1954 and April 1955, winning them all inside two rounds. Reports of his exploits reached Britain’s top promoter, Jack Solomons, who saw huge moneymaking potential in promoting the world’s biggest boxer. Jack decided to showcase him on his London shows.

Pottie came to London in early August 1955 and his arrival made national news. He was booked for a September show at White City Stadium featuring a host of leading heavies – Nino Valdes, Don Cockell, Dick Richardson, Joe Erskine, Henry Cooper and twin brother George – all of them comparative midgets next to the South African. Predictably, Pottie had little trouble with his opponent, 5ft 10in Jamaican journeyman Simon Templar, who was “pushed around as if he were a flyweight”, as BN put it, before retiring at the end of the sixth in a one-sided bout. Pottie was out again a month later to stop another Jamaican, Noel “Bull” Reed, in the second round at Harringay Arena. Clearly a step up in class was needed, and for his next outing, again at Harringay after another month’s gap, Solomons provided it.

Unlike any previous Potgieter opponent, Canada’s James J. Parker (26-5-3) had a decent record against quality opposition, having beaten New York’s Jimmy Slade, drawn with fellow Canadian Earl Walls and stayed the distance with the excellent Nino Valdes (who held a decision over Ezzard Charles). This time Pottie looked completely out of his depth. BN’s reporter had Parker winning every one of the 10 rounds. A decision for the Canadian seemed the only one possible, yet the fight was declared a draw.

“I would like to see Potgieter go back to his farm before he takes a really savage beating,” cautioned Peter Wilson of the Daily Mirror. “I have rarely met a man in boxing whom I liked more or one who, in my opinion, is less suited for this most testing of all sporting careers.”

Within a month, Pottie seemed to have taken that advice, citing press criticism of his showing in the Parker fight as a reason for quitting boxing. “Some of them [the reporters] said I was no good, which I consider unfair. It was only my 10th fight and I was still a novice boxing an experienced opponent. I have never been hurt myself and I don’t like hurting others. I am going back to South Africa.”

The 22-year-old left Britain in early December 1955, but returned for four more bouts in America just over a year later, winning two and losing two in the States before retiring for good after a defeat to leading contender John Holman. While far from the best fighting colossus in heavyweight history, Potgieter was certainly not the worst. The fact he never lost inside time suggests, at any rate, he had a decent chin.

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Posted on 7:31 am

Ray Opoku ทำเครื่องหมายของเขา



GHANA มีประเพณีอันยาวนานและภาคภูมิใจในการผลิตนักมวยระดับพรีเมียม ในช่วงไม่กี่ปีที่ผ่านมา Azumah Nelson, Ike Quartey และ David Kotey ได้โดดเด่นที่สุดในขณะที่ดาราในปัจจุบัน ได้แก่ Isaac Dogboe และ Richard Commey ในช่วงทศวรรษที่ 1950 เมื่อนักสู้จากทั่วทุกมุมเครือจักรภพเริ่มปรากฏตัวเป็นประจำในวงแหวนของสหราชอาณาจักรนักสู้ชาวกานามีความโดดเด่นมาก “ The Black Flash” Roy Ankrah ประสบความสำเร็จอย่างมากและได้รับความชื่นชมจากฝูงชกมวยทั่วสหราชอาณาจักรในเรื่องลีลาที่เต็มไปด้วยแอ็คชั่น คนอื่น ๆ ได้แก่ Al Allotey, Attu Clottey และ Jack Johnson Cofie ในช่วงต้นทศวรรษที่ 1960 ฟลอยด์โรเบิร์ตสันได้เลียนแบบอังกราห์ด้วยการชนะสิ่งที่รู้จักกันในชื่อรายการเฟเธอร์เวทของจักรวรรดิอังกฤษ โรงยิมในลอนดอนในสมัยนั้นเต็มไปด้วยเด็กหนุ่มจากกานาไนจีเรียและหมู่เกาะเวสต์อินดีสทุกคนพยายามที่จะประสบความสำเร็จให้มากที่สุดเท่าที่จะเป็นไปได้ในเกมระดับมืออาชีพหรืออย่างน้อยที่สุดก็คือการพบกัน ในเดือนเมษายน พ.ศ. 2510 Ray Opoku ออกจากประเทศกานาเพื่อฝึกฝนการค้าขายแหวนของอังกฤษ ในเวลานั้นเขาเป็นผู้เข้าแข่งขันหลักของตำแหน่งเฟเธอร์เวทชาวกานาด้วยสถิติชนะ 7 ครั้งและเสมอหนึ่งครั้งในการแข่งขัน 11 รายการของเขา เขาได้รับการติดต่อจากผู้จัดการชาวลอนดอน Eddie Giddings ให้เข้าร่วมทีมของเขาร่วมกับ Sammy Abbey เพื่อนร่วมชาติของเขา แซมมี่มาถึงสหราชอาณาจักรเมื่อไม่กี่ปีก่อนและชนะการชก 12 ครั้งจาก 15 ครั้งที่นี่และสร้างชื่อเสียงให้กับตัวเองในฐานะนักแสดงระดับแนวหน้า Giddings เป็นผู้จัดการที่ดีที่ดูแลนักสู้ของเขา เขาได้บรรจุกล่องในช่วงทศวรรษที่ 1940 ทำให้ Royal Albert Hall เปิดตัวในบิลเฟรดดี้มิลส์ ด้วยความที่ Abbey เป็นที่ปรึกษาและ Giddings ในฐานะผู้จัดการที่ใจกว้างและเอาใจใส่อย่างมาก Ray จึงออกเดินทางสู่เส้นทางแห่งความรุ่งโรจน์ของตัวเอง เขาไม่ได้พบว่ามันง่าย ในแง่หนึ่งสภาพอากาศของอังกฤษทำให้เขาตกใจเมื่อเขาต้องตื่น แต่เช้าเพื่อทำงานบนถนน การแข่งขันครั้งแรกจัดขึ้นที่ Royal Garden Hotel ใน Kensington จับคู่กับสตีฟเอลลิสตันของเบอร์มอนด์ซีย์ในรอบแปดทีมเขาเริ่มต้นได้อย่างยอดเยี่ยม เอลลิสตันได้รับรางวัล ABA Junior ในปี 2506 ขณะชกมวยกับฟิชเชอร์บีซีและในฐานะมืออาชีพเขาได้รับชัยชนะทั้งหมดยกเว้นการชกครั้งเดียวของเขาโดยแพ้เจอร์รี่แม็คไบรด์ในการแข่งขันครั้งก่อนโดยถูกตัดสิทธิ์ การต่อสู้ของเขากับ Opoku ควรจะทำให้เขากลับมาอยู่ในเส้นทางได้ เรย์พุ่งเข้ามาหาเขาจากความล่าช้าโดยรับเอลลิสตันในช่วงที่สาม หลังจากนั้นเอลลิสตันก็ถอยออกมาพยายามดึงชาวกานาออกไป แต่สายตาที่ตัดพ้อบนตักสุดท้ายทำให้ความหวังของสตีฟสิ้นสุดลงและเรย์ก็ขึ้นเครื่องบิน จากนั้นเขาก็จับคู่กับ Jimmy Revie แชมป์โลกรุ่นไลต์เวทของอังกฤษในรอบแปดที่ไบรท์ตัน เรวี่เป็นผู้มีความหวังที่ร้อนแรงและเขาก็ดีเกินไปสำหรับเรย์ทำให้เขาหยุดสองรอบ สำหรับฉันแล้วดูเหมือนว่า Opoku จะได้รับการแนะนำที่ง่ายกว่า แต่นั่นเป็นวิธีที่ย้อนกลับไปโดยเฉพาะอย่างยิ่งสำหรับนักสู้ผิวดำที่ไม่รู้จัก วิธีที่ดีที่สุดในการหาเงินก้อนโตคือการติดตามผู้มีโอกาสเป็นลูกค้าด้วยความหวังว่าจะทำให้ไม่พอใจสักหรือสองครั้งเพื่อที่จะได้สังเกตเห็น เรย์พบว่าตัวเองอยู่ใน 10 อันดับแรกของสหราชอาณาจักรในรุ่นเฟเธอร์เวตอย่างรวดเร็วและยังคงต่อสู้กับชายชั้นนำเช่น George O’Neill, Brian Cartwright และ Brian Packer ซึ่งเป็นแชมป์ทั้งหมดของภูมิภาค ความสูญเสียเพิ่มเติมมาจากมือของ John O’Brien, Johnny Cheshire และ John H. Stracey ที่มีแนวโน้ม เรย์ไม่ลังเลที่จะต่อสู้กับใครและเขาให้คุณค่าที่ยอดเยี่ยมเสมอ หลังจากออกจากเกมในปี 1970 เขาทำงานให้กับ British Rail เป็นเวลาหลายปีเลี้ยงลูกสามคนโดยสองคนเขาตั้งชื่อตาม Eddie Giddings และ Suzanna ภรรยาของ Eddie วันนี้เขายังคงอบอุ่นและมีสุขภาพดีและอาศัยอยู่ในลอนดอน

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Posted on 10:50 am

McNiff: The Best Vikings GM You Never Heard Of [Exclusive]

If you believe even half of what is circulating in the NFL rumor mill right now Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman is spending most if not all of his time on the phone these days, either fielding offers for Quarterback Kirk Cousins or, he’s got almost every other NFL GM on speed dial trying to deal the Vikings QB away.
Kids, that’s why we don’t believe even half of the NFL rumor mill, it’s better to go with what we know, instead.
What we know is that Rick Spielman has been the Minnesota Vikings General Manager since 2012 and before that he was the team’s Director of Player Personnel from 2006-2011.

After that? Even after all those years and hundreds of moves, let’s just say the best you can say about Rick Spielman’s track record in those two positions is, “It’s complicated.”
What I mean is, for every acquisition of Jared Allen there’s a Sam Bradford. For every drafting of Stefon Diggs there’s a Laquon Treadwell. If you’re looking for a guy who knew how to build a winner you have to look elsewhere.
Wait! I’m not advocating for Spielman’s removal, at least not yet. What I am saying is that he would be wise to copy one man’s formula that turned the Minnesota Vikings from expansion laughingstock into one of the NFL’s super-powers for more than a decade.
Minnesota was granted an NFL franchise in January of 1960, and in late summer of that year Bert Rose, previously the PR Director of the Los Angeles Rams was named the team’s first general Manager.

Here’s lesson #1 children – Do NOT hire a PR Director to run your football operation.
From the logo to the uniforms and everything in between, Bert Rose did a LOT of great things for the Vikings franchise, but ultimately you want a football guy running your football team.
So, after the expansion Vikings struggled through their first three season, posting just 10 wins against 30 losses and 2 ties, Bert Rose stepped aside and the Vikings grabbed a “football guy” to be their next GM.
Right now you’re like ”Wait a minute! Rick Spielman is a “football guy!” Relax, I never said he wasn’t, he just hasn’t been able to produce the consistent success that this guy did.

Jim Finks was first a star quarterback in Salem, Illinois, before filling the same role at the University of Tulsa. A 12th-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1949, Finks played six seasons in the NFL as a quarterback and defensive back, retiring after the 1955 season.
In 1956 Finks took a coaching position at Notre Dame where he must have made quite an impression with somebody because the next year, he was named General Manager of the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football league.
Within three years the Stampeders made the playoffs, then in 1961 and ’62 they advanced to the Semi-finals, the first time Calgary had achieved that success since the late 1940s. After a 10-4 season in 1963 Finks was lured back to the United States by the Minnesota Vikings, and the transformation was about to begin.
In the 1964 NFL draft Finks selected Defensive End Carl Eller from the University of Minnesota with the 6th overall selection in the draft. If that sounds like a pick you could have made, drafting an All-American who played his college ball in your backyard, consider that among others, Finks also added longtime guard Milt Sunde in the 20th round with pick # 271, and that fall the Vikings produced a winning record of 8-5-1.

The next three years didn’t see a lot progress in terms of wins and losses, but Finks was slowly laying the foundation for what was to become a juggernaut.
And then came 1967.
Let’s just say that ’67 got off to a rocky start when Finks decided to trade the team’s starting quarterback and arguably their best player. Quarterback Fran Tarkenton had demand to be traded to the New York Giants and shrewdly, Finks made it happen.
Jim Finks shipped the future Hall of Famer to the Giants for 1st and 2nd round draft choices in ’67, a 1st round choice in 1968, and a 2nd round selection in ’69.
Someone must have been watching because just three days later Bud Grant agreed to leave the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who he led to 4 Grey Cup Championships during a 10-year tenure in the Canadian Football League. The Vikings had tried to sign Grant in 1961, but with Finks now at the helm the Superior, Wisconsin native decided to return to the state where he had been a multi-sport star in college, and a member of the NBA’s Minneapolis Lakers.
On draft day Finks was holding three first-round choices but he was also dealing with a major health emergency. Finks’ gallbladder needed to come out but there was NO WAY that Finks was going to miss THIS draft! So, he got the surgeon to reluctantly agree to postpone the surgery by allowing Finks to turn his hospital room turned into the Vikings draft headquarters, where Finks, who was being treated with pain killers, could draft while being monitored.
One thing is certain, those meds didn’t cloud Fink’s decision-making on that day. With Grant having final say on player personnel, Finks drafted seven players who would become starters for the Vikings. Four would go on to become Pro Bowl players, while one, defensive tackle Alan Page, would become the first defensive player to be named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, on his way to a Hall of Fame Career.
That 1967 draft, conducted from a hospital bed, set the Vikings on a run that included five playoff appearances and two trips to the Super Bowl between 1967 and 1973.
In that span Finks added NFL all-time interception leader and Hall of Famer Paul Krause, and drafted Hall of Fame Offensive Tackle Ron Yary in 1968. And remember Fran Tarkenton? The disgruntled quarterback who set the table by demanding to be traded?
After watching his Vikings lose to the Dallas Cowboys 20-12 in the 1971 playoffs, a game in which his quarterback tandem of Gary Cuozzo and Bobby Lee turned the ball over four times, Finks reacquired Tarkenton before the 1972 season, setting the stage for a run of dominance that would include five consecutive division titles, two more NFL Championships, and two more Super Bowl losses.
Problem is, Finks watched that part happen from Chicago.
Against Finks’ Minnesota Vikings the once mighty Chicago Bears had gone 5-8-1, a fact not lost on legendary Bears owner George Halas. So, when the relationship between Finks and his boss Max Winter went sour, “Papa Bear” swooped in.
Before Finks the Bears hadn’t had a winning season since 1965 and hadn’t won more than four games in the previous two seasons. Finks didn’t arrive in Chicago in time to run the Bears 1974 draft but let’s just say he more than made up for it the next year.
The Bears had the 4th pick in the 1975 NFL draft and with that pick Finks selected an unheralded running back out of Jackson State by the name of Walter Payton, a man who would retire as the NFL’s All-time leading rusher and a player who would torture the once mighty Vikings defense, for years to come.
But Finks was far from done. Chicago’s 1975 draft brought six players who would start at least three seasons for the Bears, forming the nucleus that would end the longest playoff drought in team history.
Like his tenure in Minnesota, Finks didn’t produce overwhelming success right away, and like his tenure in Minnesota, a couple of bold moves would launch the Bears to dominance.
First, in 1978 he signed a castoff from the Minnesota Vikings, an underweight defensive tackle by the name of Alan Page and suddenly the Bears locker room culture started to change.
Then, in 1979 Finks traded three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Wally Chambers to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the Bucs 1st round pick the next year. That pick became Hall of Fame defensive end Dan Hampton, but Finks was just getting started.
Between 1975 and 1983 Jim Finks drafted 10 players who would go on to become Pro Bowlers, including four eventual Hall of Famers. In the nine seasons AFTER Finks’ departure the Bears drafted only four Pro Bowlers and exactly ZERO Hall of Famers.
What Finks created became the ’85 Bears, the team widely recognized as having the most dominant defense in NFL history, and with it came a lopsided Super Bowl win.
Of course, Finks was gone by then. Just like in Minnesota his relationship with his boss had soured and when Halas went around Finks and signed a head coach by the name of Mike Ditka in 1983, Finks knew his time with the Bears was over.
Finks left the Bears in August of ‘83, going across town to become the President and CEO of Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs. You shouldn’t be surprised to learn that both teams would make the playoffs the next year, the Cubs for the first time in 39-years.
Finks returned to the NFL in 1986, producing perhaps his biggest reclamation project, turning around the hapless New Orleans Saints, an organization that hadn’t won in almost two decades of NFL participation.
Between 1986 and 1992 Finks drafted eight players who would become Pro Bowlers and signed two of the top free agents from the defunct USFL, in linebackers Sam Mills and Vaughan Johnson. Together with Finks’ draft picks Pat Swilling and Rickey Jackson they formed what might have been the most talented linebacking corps in NFL history, and of course the Saints started to win.
Under Jim Finks the Saints made the playoffs four times in a five year span. How good the Saints might have become we’ll never know because in 1994 Jim Finks, a man who was passed over to replace retiring NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle back in 1989 because of the behind-the-scenes skullduggery of Mike Lynn, his replacement with the Minnesota Vikings, died from lung cancer at the age of 66.
Finks was far from perfect, he did pass up a quarterback by the name of Joe Montana in 1979, and both Dan Marino and Jim Kelly in 1983. But Finks did have a great eye for talent, and he wasn’t afraid to trade a player at the peek of his career to position his team for greater success down the road.
Something for a “football guy” like Rick Spielman might want to consider.

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Posted on 1:25 am

Editor’s Pick: When the mob ruled boxing

The evil empire of Frankie Carbo and Jim Norris over boxing in the 1940s and 1950s left the sport’s reputation in tatters and several top fighters in financial ruin. Eric Armit tells the full story

I SUPPOSE
I am not the only one of a certain age (don’t ask) who longs for “the good old
days”. The days when there were only eight weight divisions and only one world
champion in each division and Ring Magazine effectively decided who was the
champion.

There
were no sanctioning bodies. Well, not really. The North American Boxing Association
was kicking about but no one paid any attention to them. Title fights were held
over 15 rounds and national titles were prized by fighters as second only to
world titles. Tobacco was the addictive substance of choice and if people heard
the word testosterone they probably thought it was the name of an Italian-American
baseball player. Happy days, right?

Maybe
not. Remove the rose-tinted spectacles and rub your eyes. Back in the 1950s and
early 1960s there was evil lurking at the very heart of boxing in America.

In the 1950s, America was boxing. Current major boxing nations such as Japan and Mexico played little part at world title level and horizontal was how the Americans described British heavyweights.

Madison Square Garden was the boxing equivalent of Mecca. Television was becoming a force through twice-weekly shows at the Garden and an organisation known as the International Boxing Club (IBC) headed by Jim Norris as President and his partner Arthur Wirtz was the most powerful outfit in boxing.

Businessmen
Norris and Wirtz formed the IBC in 1949 along with lawyer Truman Gibson and Joe
Louis, the world heavyweight champion who was plotting retirement. Norris, as
President and owner of 80 per cent of the stock, was the main man. He came from
a family that controlled the grain market in Chicago, he was involved in ice
hockey and horse racing and, best of all, he was filthy rich.

In 1949 an
ailing Mike Jacobs, through his Twentieth Century Boxing Club, owned the rights
to promote at the Garden but the venue bought those rights from Jacobs for
$100,000 and turned those rights over to their silent partner Norris, who had
exclusive leases on the Garden, Yankee Stadium, New York Polo grounds and other
stadiums in Chicago and St. Louis. So Norris had the stadiums but he needed
fighters to fill them.

The fledgling IBC saw the heavyweight title as an obvious target, but they were still finding their feet and did not “own” then champion Joe Louis. With the end of his career looming, and with the help of Gibson, Louis had moved to ensure himself of some post-retirement income by convincing the top four heavyweights Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott, Lee Savold and Gus Lesnevich to give Louis exclusive rights to their services. One of the IBC’s first moves was to pay Louis $150,000 to retire and for him to also to assign to IBC the exclusive rights to Charles, Walcott, Savold and Lesnevich allowing the IBC to promote a tournament to fill the vacant heavyweight title and control the future of the heavyweight division.

IBC had the stadiums and the TV outlets and for the boxers they would need they turned to Frankie Carbo.

ENTER BAD FRANKIE

Since
the early 1940’s Frankie Carbo had been building his position of power acting along
with his No 2 Frank “Blinkey” Palermo as a promoter, matchmaker and undercover
manager for many top level fighters with Palermo bringing to the table Ike
Williams, Johnny Saxton, Clarence Henry and heavyweight Coley Wallace (who
would later portray Joe Louis in two films, 1953’s The Joe Louis Story
and Marciano, which was made in 1979).

Carbo himself
had his claws into most of the top lightweights, welterweights and
middleweights and was behind the notorious Billy Fox-Jake LaMotta fiasco where LaMotta
was stopped in four rounds by the vastly inferior Fox. Although LaMotta initially
denied the fight was fixed, he eventually admitted he threw the fight in return
for a promised shot at the middleweight title. This was just one example of the
power Carbo wielded.

Billy Fox lands a left on the eye of Jake La Motta during their bout at Madison Square Garden Getty Images

Norris
and Carbo began to work together: The urbane Norris was the velvet glove to
Carbo’s iron fist. Frankie was unquestionably the power man out of the two.

To
obtain fighters, IBC used the commercial approach, which went something like, your
fighter will not get a title shot or appear on a big TV show unless we get exclusive
promotion rights and a share of your fighter. Carbo’s approach, usually channelled
through Palermo, was more physical. Sign with IBC and give us a piece of your
fighter or get hurt – and very few had the courage to withstand those threats
when the man behind them, Carbo, was a former member of the notorious organised
crime group, Murder Inc.

Naturally, some of those left out in the cold complained over the monopoly that the IBC had established and hinted at some dark forces with claims that Norris was just a front for Carbo. The influence of Carbo in owning fighters and fixing fights was known to much of the press but, such was his reputation, only hinted at. Some state commissions also knew, or at least strongly suspected, the power and presence of Carbo but shutting out the IBC would mean the loss of the huge windfall that big fights could generate for hotels, clubs and businesses in their cities and stadiums.

LAW BREAKERS

As early as 1952, the Department of Justice set up a jury to investigate the claims that the IBC and MSG were exercising an illegal monopoly, but action was stymied by the lawyers of the accused by claiming that professional boxing was not subject to the anti-trust laws as enshrined in the Sherman Antitrust Act. The IBC then pursued their case all the way to the US Supreme Court but finally lost in 1955 with Norris estimated to have incurred $500,000 in legal fees.

In the
same year, the New York State Athletic Commission decided to hold hearings into
the allegations of mobster’s involvement in boxing and called Norris to give
testimony.

When
questioned over his links to Carbo, Norris stated that his meetings with Carbo
were few, accidental and entirely unrelated to boxing. That was a flagrant lie;
even then, Carbo was using threats and actual violence to coerce boxers and managers
to do business with the IBC.

The
whispers of a criminally supported monopoly enjoyed by the IBC/MSG consortium grew
to a point where action was taken in a US District court in 1957 to challenge
the IBC’s monopoly. Norris had tried to forestall the case by resigning from
IBC which was then bought by MSG but the court was unconvinced and ruled that
through their control of the promotion of championship fights, and control of
major stadia, IBC constituted a monopoly. This was evidenced by the fact that
in the period from May 1953, and the case being heard in 1957, the IBC had an “interest”
in 36 of the 37 championships fights held in the United States. The judgement
limited the MSG for a period of five years from promoting more than two
championships bouts in each calendar year and also placed the same limitations
on Norris and Wirtz who were ordered to dispose of whatever stock they held in
MSG. The court also ordered that the IBC be disbanded and that the Garden and
other stadiums that had worked exclusively with the IBC must be leased for a
reasonable rent to independent promoters – effectively erasing one part of the
empire of evil that had reigned for so long.

That ruling
dealt with the IBC and MSG but what of Carbo? His undercover part in the IBC was
being uncovered and he was the next one in the court’s sights. For him the
beginning of the end came in 1958 when, to avoid a trial where the extent of
his role would become public, he pled guilty to the derisory charges of
managing boxers and acting as a matchmaker without a licence. He served two
years in Riker’s Island prison and was released in 1960.

Unfortunately
for Carbo, in the same year as he was released, a Senate Subcommittee led by
Senator Estes Kefauver had been set up to investigate ties between organised
crime and professional boxing and that turned the spotlight on Carbo. But
exactly who was this guy Carbo, often referred to as Mr Grey, who in turn was
being described as the Czar of Boxing?

CARBO’S
STORY

Paolo
Giovanni Carbo was born in Sicily on 10 August 1904. His family emigrated to
America and Carbo quickly settled into a life of crime being sent to a reform
school before he was even in his teens. He graduated from there to a variety of
street crimes and protection rackets. He committed his first murder when he was
20, killing a taxi driver who refused to pay off the organisation Carbo was
working for. Carbo pled not guilty and, in the end through plea bargaining, he
was sentenced to two to four years but was released after 20 months.

The
advent of prohibition boosted Carbo’s career and eventually he was recruited by
Murder Inc, who acted as enforcers for the Italian-American and Jewish Mafia,
and were suspected of over 500 contract killings. By the end of the 1930s Carbo
had been charged with more than eight murders but none of the charges stuck due
to the reluctance of witnesses to come forward. Not surprising, since after
Carbo was charged with the murder of Murder Inc. informant Harry Greenburg –
one of the former members of Murder Inc who had also agreed to testify against
Carbo – suspiciously fell to his death from a window of a hotel while under
police protection. Carbo was also a main suspect in the murder of Ben “Bugsy”
Siegel who had overseen the building of the Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas for the
Mob.

With the
end of prohibition Carbo moved into boxing and the threats and coercion tactics
he had applied in every business he had been involved in worked well for him. The
extent of his influence only became apparent during Kefauver’s investigations.

The
testimony came from others as Carbo pled the Fifth Amendment i.e. the refusal
to incriminate himself (25 times, and Palermo did the same). The lid was lifted
by boxers and managers who felt with Norris stripped of any influence, and the
US Senate looking to nail Carbo, it was time to talk. And they did.

SPILLING
THE BEANS

Former
lightweight champion Ike Williams explained how Palermo had fleeced him of much
of his ring earnings. Another witness stated that Rocky Marciano’s manager Al
Weill refused to allow Harry Matthews, the top-rated heavyweight who had a long
unbeaten streak, a fight with Marciano until finally Carbo approved it. By then,
Matthews had been unbeaten for nine years, building a run of 51-0-1, but being
frozen out. Outstanding future middle weight champion Joey Giardello was
another fighter frozen out. Giardello always claimed that he would have
received a title shot much earlier if he had been managed by the mob but it was
not until he had had been a pro for 11 years, and had 106 fights, that he was allowed
to challenge for the middleweight title.

Carbo
once claimed he had controlled the welterweight division for 25 years. An
illustration was presented with regard to Johnny Saxton. A Carbo/Palmero
fighter, Saxton lost the welterweight title to Tony De Marco, another Carbo-owned
fighter. Palermo managed Saxton so, of course, there was a return bout clause.

However,
there was pressure within boxing for Carmen Basilio to get a title shot he
deserved, but was being denied. Even though Basilio was not owned by Carbo he
was given a title shot. Saxton was told to waive his right to the return bout with
De Marco and assured that he would get his title back. Basilio complicated
matters by beating De Marco to win the title and repeated the feat in a rematch.

Saxton got his promised chance and regained the title with a unanimous decision over Basilio. It was a result that was universally condemned, with two judges having Saxton winning by seven points. A promise kept, but the decision caused such a stink that this time it was Basilio who had to be given a return and, taking matters out of the bent judges’ hands, he beat Saxton inside the distance.

GETTING AWAY WITH IT

Top managers
such as Jack (Doc) Kearns, Lou Viscousi and Willie Ketchum all worked with the
IBC and Carbo. Typical of the deals was this: When Viscousi managed lightweight
champion Joe Brown Orlando Zuleta was approved to challenge him but the
promoter, a non-Carbo man, had to pay Carbo $5,000 for the privilege and if
Zuleta won, Viscousi would get a piece of Zuleta.

A St.
Louis police detective stated that Sonny Liston was owned by Carbo and others
with Liston’s manager John Vitale and Palermo each having a 12 per cent share,
two others, names still unknown, also having 12 per cent each and Carbo 52 per
cent.

Carbo
made decisions that affected the careers of Jake LaMotta, Willie Pep Tony
DeMarco and many many others. To get a title fight or fight on a TV card the
fighters needed the approval of Carbo and Norris and that approval was
conditionally on the fighter signing a long term exclusive contract with the
IBC so even if they slipped up and a non-Carbo fighter such as Basilio won the
title they still owned him through the IBC.

Incident
after incident was revealed where Carbo and Norris decided the fate of boxers
while sitting around a table at a restaurant just across the road from the
Garden. It emerged Norris climbed on the gravy train taking cuts and shares
from their dealings.

Due to illness, Norris was allowed to give his evidence to the Senate committee in private. Norris was forced to admit that the testimony he had given to the New York State Athletic Commission in 1955 about his “rare” meetings with Carbo was a lie. He could afford to do so as the statute of limitations on perjury was five years and the Senate hearings were held more than five years after he gave his testimony in New York. With the dissolution of the IBC, Norris was no longer involved in boxing but the revelations of his working relationship with Carbo seemed of little consequence.

Norris had been part of a consortium which purchased the Chicago Blackhawks in 1946 and was chairman of the team when the club won the Stanley Cup in 1961 leading to Norris being elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962.

He had suffered from heart trouble for some time and died in February 1966 when his reported net worth was $250 million. For context on his fortune, many of the fighters he screwed, like Ike Williams, died penniless. True to his IBC business practices, just before his death Norris arranged for a National Hockey League franchise to be awarded to St Louis even though no one from St Louis had applied for the franchise; Norris just happened to own the St. Louis Arena.

CARBO’S
END

The
Kefauver hearings did not finish Carbo. Carbo still owned the welterweight
title, which was now in the hands of Virgil Atkins. A proposal was made for
Atkins to defend against Don Jordan in December 1958. It looked a safe match
for Atkins as Jordan was in poor form.

Jordan
was managed by Californian Don Nesseth, who had no ties to Carbo and neither
did his advisor, Californian promoter Jackie Leonard.

Just to
cover themselves in case of an upset, Palermo contacted Leonard and Nesseth and
told them that Carbo wanted 50 per cent of Jordan or the fight would not go
ahead. Nesseth was reluctant to agree to this. Leonard was aware of Carbo’s
reputation, so he called Truman Gibson Jnr, who knew Carbo.

Gibson
advised Leonard to pretend to agree to the proposal but not to go through with
the deal. Leonard mentioned Carbo’s reputation, but Gibson assured Leonard that
the days of gangsters and enforcers were a thing of the past. Trusting Gibson’s
word, Leonard flew down to Florida and told Carbo it was a done deal. Jordan
won the title and Nesseth refused to sign Jordan over to Carbo.

An angry Carbo ranted over the telephone to Leonard saying, “Just because you are 2,000 miles away, that’s no sign I can’t have you taken care of.” Leonard was given police protection after his home was fire bombed. He then made the mistake of going out without his police protection. As he was closing his garage door, he was attacked with a piece of lead piping, beaten and hospitalised.

This was
one piece of brutality too far. The Californian State Commission and the Los
Angeles Police Intelligence unit decided to go after Carbo. It is not clear how
much success they might have had but, crucially, they had a powerful ally: The
FBI.

In
November 1957, outside the small town of Apalachin in New York, local and State
law forces had stumbled on a meeting of Mafia bosses from all over the USA. They
raided the meeting and more than 60 of the Mafia bosses had been detained and indicted.
Before this there had been some doubts as to whether there was a nationwide
criminal organisation. Now the FBI knew otherwise.

Frank “Blinky” Palermo gesturing to UPI photographers after his arrest in part of a nationwide FBI crackdown on boxing figures. Palermo is being charged with trying to “muscle in” on world welterweight champion Don Jordon’s earnings Getty Images

The FBI was looking to build on that success in Apalachin and Carbo was an obvious candidate. In 1961 Carbo, Palermo, Truman Gibson Jr and two of Carbo’s enforcers were arrested and charged with extortion and conspiracy against Don Jordan. Gibson was only charged with conspiracy his part in the affair being his assurances to Leonard that it was safe to dupe Carbo. With a young US Attorney General Robert Kennedy handling the prosecution Carbo was found guilty of the charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison and Palermo to 15. Carbo was initially incarcerated in Alcatraz but later switched to prisons in Washington State and then Illinois. He was eventually granted early parole due to ill health and died in Miami Beach in 1976. Palermo served just seven-and-a-half years. He returned to his previous base in Philadelphia and, for a while, it was rumoured that he had a share in the earnings of heavyweight title challenger Jimmy Young. Ultimately, he was never a force again and died in 1996 at the age of 91. The final chapter in the story of the attempt by Carbo and Norris to monopolise boxing.

The good old days? I don’t think so.

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