Conviction No. 1
While the championship fight in Yankee Stadium the other night was illuminating once more the eternal verities of the well-timed left jab and straight right (see pages 34-39), another demonstration of great importance to boxing, though a much less remarked one, was going forward a few miles south of the Stadium in New York's Court of General Sessions. There, a racketeer named Gabe Genovese, 64, a longtime pal of Frankie Carbo, received trial by jury.
The charge against the small, rumpled man in the tinted glasses had a dry, almost innocuous sound: that Genovese had been the "undercover manager" in two 1956 fights of a lightweight named Ludwig Lightburn and had pocketed a rake-off of $4,056. By the time the trial was over, the jury had a much clearer idea of an undercover manager and the term had lost its innocuous sound. Instead it carried the real-life business menace that an old generation of moviegoers and a new one of TV rerun watchers has come to recognize, when the man says (and he has friends with guns and blackjacks), "Take me into partnership or else."
The jury found Gabe Genovese guilty of forcing himself into a manager partnership with the lightweight fighter, and the trial might have marched on quickly to the judge's sentence and its end. But before the sentencing, the assistant D.A., John G. Bonomi, received the court's permission to broaden the sketch that jury and public had already received of Racketeer Genovese.
"The fact is," said the assistant D.A., "that this man Genovese has exercised an evil and degrading influence on professional boxing for over two decades." It began in the 1930s, said Bonomi, when Genovese joined forces with Frankie Carbo, and has continued almost up to the present moment. Not only had Genovese received $4,056 from the regularly licensed manager of Ludwig Lightburn, but a new investigation showed—and Bonomi's words deserved far more than the slight attention they got in the press next day—that Genovese "collected $10,000 from Norman Rothchild, an upstate fight promoter, to stage the Carmen Basilio- Johnny Saxton welterweight championship match held on September 12, 1956 in Syracuse.
" Joe Netro and John DeJohn, the licensed co-managers of former welterweight and middleweight champion Carmen Basilio, stated to me that they paid Genovese $7,000 from the managers' share of Basilio's purses in 1956. During that year Herman Wallman, also known as Hymie Wallman, gave Genovese $1,500 from the earnings of Charlie Cotton, a prominent middleweight.
"In 1957 Netro and DeJohn shelled out $20,000 to Genovese from Basilio's earnings and Wallman contributed $640 from a Cotton purse.
"In the past year, Basilio's co-managers, according to their own statements, gave Genovese $24,000. That makes a grand total of $67,196 to Genovese in ring plunder during the past three years. It is of little consequence whether the defendant Genovese received the money as his share of the spoils or whether he acted as a bag man or collection agent for another [e.g., Carbo]....
"It is my considered opinion that there is some hope of converting boxing from a racket into a sport if a prison sentence is imposed."
Judge John A. Mullen imposed the severest sentence within his reach—two years. Next step for the district attorney's office: completing the extradition of Frankie Carbo, now held without bail in New Jersey, for a trial of his own.