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Two weeks before the proposed bout, at midnight, D'Amato sent an S O S to me. In his own terse words he confessed he needed help. His explanation: "The promoter is out." I frankly admit that I didn't feel like helping but indicated I would sleep on it and let him know. Early the next day Arch Hindman, executive secretary of the National Boxing Association and the man who was responsible for creating interest in the so-called fight, called me and told of the mess in Indianapolis. He asked me to come out for the sake of Indy and boxing. At noon I agreed to go.
Now, while the Rhodes matter was in full swing, the Zeckendorfs were beginning to lose confidence. Why? Well, Patterson had appeared to be my stock in trade, and D'Amato had evidently cast me aside in favor of another. So they asked, why should we form a partnership with you when you have nothing to offer? I tried to tell them what must have seemed highly implausible, namely, that our future lay in a Johansson victory. This was more than a long shot—indeed, in my mind it had a real good chance to happen. But the Zeckendorfs had no reason to consider my judgment as a boxing expert, so they definitely lost interest.
Now, with my last-minute rescue of the Indianapolis situation and what seemed to have been D'Amato's revived faith in me as a promoter, the Zeckendorfs became reinterested and reactivated talks between their lawyers and mine.
MIRACLE IN INDIANA
The Indianapolis promotion, for which I served as an adviser and trouble shooter, turned out to be a 10-day miracle. It was, at best, a very unattractive fight, but nevertheless the large Coliseum was well filled and the gross receipts exceeded $120,000.
Back to New York. Back to the only important project, the big fight, and back to problems.
Mr. Black and Mr. Velella wanted to get control of Rosensohn Enterprises. At the same time, the Zeckendorfs were negotiating to close a deal with me for a five-year partnership. All of a sudden it became necessary for me as a promoter to announce the TV deal, and it was not the kind of a deal any promoter or any responsible-minded person would want to announce. It certainly wasn't an announcement to be proud of. I had to announce and take the responsibility for a TV deal I had no part in negotiating. I had to tell the press and ask them to believe that I, an apparently sane human being, closed a deal for $300,000 when I had received a bona fide offer of $450,000. I wasn't happy about doing it. I protested to Cus, but then again this was another of the small costs of making the fight possible. The important aftermath was not in the rather justifiable ridiculing attitude of the press but in the reaction of the Zeckendorfs. They were unhappy. They were unhappy about the whole situation. They felt D'Amato was running the whole promotion, that he was pulling all the strings. As a last backbreaking move they wanted to walk away from any partnership arrangement with me. They had already advanced $50,000. Quite honestly, I couldn't blame them. I myself was extremely unhappy. My consolation was the tremendous faith in Ingemar's ability to win the title and the creation of what I hoped to be a new era and approach to boxing.
And so the deal with the Zeckendorfs died. Now Black and Velella were happy. All of a sudden they were to receive two-thirds of the profits instead of two-sixths. Now Velella didn't want to put up any money. And so now, of course, I didn't want to include them in Rosensohn Enterprises. This was the middle of May. I withstood their relentless pressure for over four weeks. Finally, on that fateful date, June 18, at the same time that I signed away my ancillary rights to all future Floyd Patterson fights, I signed over two-thirds of the stock, one third to Charley Black, one third to his friend Vincent J. Velella.
At this time I could tell no one but my lawyer much of what happened. I wanted very much to tell Ingemar and Eddie Ahlquist, but, and it was a very strong but, I feared that had I done so they would have exploded, packed up and left for Sweden.
So the dark truth, for a time at least, had to be a secret. And still in my mind it was not that important because it represented, I thought then, only a formalized way to distribute the profits to my partners.