Last week Bill Rosensohn had long, earnest conversations with Ingemar Johansson and Eddie Ahlquist in the sitting room of a sedate Paris hotel.
The purpose of Rosensohn's meeting with the champion and his adviser was in part to explain the developments of the turbulent week, including his dramatic resignation from Rosensohn Enterprises, Inc., and to reaffirm his interest in and friendship for the champion. He urged Ingemar to do everything possible to go through with his return bout within the contracted 90-day period, recognizing however that Ingemar's objections and fears were indeed justifiable. He also discussed the possibility of future defenses after the rematch, when Rosensohn would once again emerge as the promoter.
Rosensohn clearly indicated that he was not through with either boxing promotion or Ingemar Johansson, but at the same time it was evident that he was in Paris for a broader and more daring purpose. It could not be a coincidence that at the same Old World hotel with Bill, Ingemar and Eddie were Jolly Jack Solomons, the British fight promoter, and grim Truman Gibson of NBE (successor to IBC) aide-de-camp to the celebrated James D. Norris. It was obvious that this curious company had come to Paris with a larger, more difficult aim than climbing the Eiffel Tower. Certainly the four most significant promoters in the world and the champion of the very same world had been summoned by one of the five to talk shop. It seemed again quite probable that a formidable entente was in the making, an entente that would make previous coalitions seem puny by comparison.
What also emerges is that Bill Rosensohn, far from being an impoverished refugee from boxing's devious, clubby world, still maintained, and was striking from, a position of considerable power—and that power was clearly Ingemar Johansson. It is an old axiom that the man who controls the heavyweight champion controls boxing. Bill does not control Johansson, who controls himself, but he does have his trust and that is certainly next best.
Some other points about the Paris summit meeting are worth noting. Rosensohn was the host at the convention. Johansson was not only the guest of honor, but in a sense the massive and valuable centerpiece. What could have induced Gibson to come to Paris? I can think of three good reasons: Johansson, Rosensohn's good name with the public and his good (nonmonopolistic) standing with the Federal Government. Gibson and his boss Norris have none of these, and certainly one reason that Johansson was in Paris was to display to Truman and Jack that he was still Bill's boy.
How Rosensohn could use fellow promoters Gibson, who must watch his monopolistic step these days, and Solomons, who usually plays ball with Marse Jim Norris, hardly needs stating. They have immense reservoirs of talent and capital. We shall hear more from these strange new bedfellows. We may expect an entirely new architecture in boxing, and not merely another fa�ade. One should not prejudge from the Paris personnel what this architecture might look like. Remember, the master builder is likely to be Bill Rosensohn, and he has promised to compromise no more.
As for Johansson and the rematch, despite Rosensohn's exhortations, it is hard to see how the fight can take place this year. Ingo reiterates that he does not yet have a satisfactory accounting of his moneys, and anyway, time is growing perilously short to prepare for an outdoor fight in the temperate zone.
Meanwhile, the catalyst Rosensohn passes along the balmy, palmy concourse at Cannes to the casino. The orchestras tell softly of the promise of love in front of the vast pastel hotels. Across the even waters of the bay, part of the Sixth Fleet rides before the Maritime Alps. In the casino, Rosensohn bets on black at the crowded table. Ask him why. "It is the only thing I could reach," he says, but he wins.
He is a gambler, and perhaps his luck is turning.
Rosensohn was not talking for publication, but a few days before in Goteborg, Ingemar had talked to me quite clearly about his plans and purposes.