There were other demands made on me by my partners. Velella wanted to get the best seats, center section, first row back, as many as possible. As a promoter it was important to me to keep as many of these seats as possible to accommodate important buyers. But to accede to the demands of my partner I agreed to sell him 532 seats in the two center sections, the best, of course. He, in turn, signed a paper saying he would not return any. His cash commitment? Not the $53,200 that it should have been, but a deposit of $25,000, the only money he ever advanced to the corporation. In addition, D'Amato demanded 250 of the best seats, first row back, center section. Charley Black picked these tickets up, and he signed an agreement that they would be nonrefundable. He signed a slip that the amount of these tickets should be deducted from Patterson's purse. He signed for Cus.
Two days before the fight, at 4 p.m., Velella's secretary brought down a box. It contained over 600 tickets, evidently including some of D'Amato's allotment. She demanded that these tickets be taken back. I signed a receipt but indicated I could only credit them to the account of Velella and D'Amato if they were resold. Imagine the immensity of the problem. Six hundred choice $100 seats returned at a time when people had stopped buying red-carpet ringsides and were buying the cheaper seats, 600 tickets returned by my people who had given me written promises that these tickets would not be refunded. I was not very happy about my partners at this point.
Well, despite everything the fight took place. It was a memorable night. It was both a nightmare and the most thrilling, satisfying dream come alive that any mortal could experience. It was, as some writers indicated, a fairy tale come true. The so-called boy without a chance, the 5-1 underdog, the man on whom I had banked everything won the world heavyweight title.
Outwardly I was happy, and indeed I should have been. The days following the fight I met with my partners and they seemed happy. They talked in glowing terms of the rematch and the profit that could be made therefrom. The $50,000 loss on the promotion seemed insignificant when compared to the anticipated profits on the rematch. In a state of numbness and exhaustion I decided to go to California for a two-week vacation. While there, I never even inquired into the availability of the Coliseum for a rematch. However, the urge to get back to work and the all-important return bout made me cut short my vacation. I came back a week early. The day after arriving in New York I received a shocking telegram from Velella. It read:
AS MAJORITY STOCKHOLDER, DIRECTOR AND COUNSEL OF ROSENSOHN ENTERPRISES, INC., I MUST REMIND YOU THAT NO DEAL, COMMITMENTS OR OTHER ARRANGEMENTS ARE TO BE MADE BY YOU WITH RESPECT TO THE FORTHCOMING PATTERSON-JOHANSSON RETURN BOUT WITHOUT PROPER CONSULTATION AND APPROPRIATE APPROVALS FROM ROSENSOHN ENTERPRISES, INC. IN VIEW OF OUR RECENT DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING MY DISSATISFACTION WITH THE PREVIOUS PATTERSON-JOHANSSON PROMOTION AND YOUR ASSURANCE THAT YOU WOULD CONSULT ME ON FUTURE OPERATIONS. I AM AMAZED AT THE LACK OF COMMUNICATION AND ADVICE FROM YOU AND PARTICULARLY BY PUBLISHED REPORTS THAT YOU HAVE GRANTED AN OPTION FOR THE NEXT PROMOTION TO CALIFORNIA INTERESTS. I WISH TO ADVISE YOU OF MY INSISTENCE THAT YOU DO NOT PROCEED WITH ANY NEGOTIATIONS UNTIL WE HAVE HAD A FULL OPPORTUNITY TO REVIEW YOUR PAST ACTIVITIES AND OUR FUTURE PLANS.
When I received it, I was literally dumfounded. I couldn't believe it. Vincent J. Velella had, for no apparent reason, decided to make a power play and grab control of my corporation. He was not satisfied with profit participation. Charley Black's support had evidently been enlisted. All of a sudden I was at war with the people I had taken in as partners, people who had contributed nothing but headaches.
Velella's next move was to send me the following letter on July 17:
"The undersigned, a director and representing in excess of 50% of the capital stock of Rosensohn Enterprices, Inc., hereby requests and demands that a special meeting of stockholders be held in accordance with the attached notice not later than Friday, July 31, 1959...."
The next move was even a more dramatic and daring maneuver. Velella joined forces with Irving Kahn, my old nemesis from TelePrompTer. Together they embarked on a sudden and unannounced trip to Sweden. Their mission? Simple. To sabotage me with the two men upon whom I was counting most for support. They went to poison me in the minds of Ingemar and Eddie Ahlquist. In Sweden after their visit, I learned that Kahn and Velella were not the least bit bashful about making all sorts of statements about my character, reputation and promotional ability. Before I left for Sweden I had been told by a newspaperman that Kahn and Velella were on an unholy mission and was advised to leave right away: I didn't change my scheduled date of departure. I still had faith, great faith, in Ingemar and Eddie. They knew only too well what I had gone through to make possible the title fight. They appreciated, I felt, the many obstacles which had to be surmounted. I arrived in Sweden and spent two days with Eddie. Ingemar was concluding a series of exhibitions. No doubt the Kahn-Velella mission had done its intended damage—namely, the creation of confusion in the mind of Ingemar. No doubt, too, my faith in Ingemar and Eddie was not misplaced. These men were not the gullible foreigners that Kahn and Velella had expected to find. These men did not swallow everything that had been uttered to them. Instead, they wanted to hear my side of the story. They believed in me. They did not believe in the things they were told by Kahn and Velella.
After a long, exhaustive and exhausting three days, Ingemar and Eddie reaffirmed their faith in me. They understood my position. They knew why things had happened in this peculiar way. This, in itself, more than atoned for the misery I had suffered. I had believed in a boy and a man. They had believed in me.