The jowly mug shot on the opposite page is of Mr. X. Mr. X is the underworld character ( FBI No. 4817958) who has figured in baffling absentia in New York District Attorney Frank S. Hogan's investigation of the fast shuffling and double-dealing behind the promotion of the Floyd Patterson-Ingemar Johansson title fight, an unsavory chronicle first revealed in SPORTS ILLUSTRATED three weeks ago.
From that story of how he got progressively elbowed out of his own company, Rosensohn Enterprises, Inc., Promoter Bill Rosensohn suppressed, at the request of the D.A., one bad actor—Mr. X. There is no longer any reason to conceal him or his cloak-and-influence role.
Mr. X is Anthony Salerno (alias Anthony Russo) of New York, Miami Beach and Rhinebeck, N.Y. Salerno rose to the white-on-white eminence coveted by contemporary tough guys out of East Harlem's celebrated 102nd Street Gang, whose rank file also included Trigger Mike Coppola, Vincent (Jimmy Blue Eyes) Alo, Joey Rao and Frankie Carbo. He is known as Tony Fat to such pals as Coppola, the notorious Detroit hood Joe Massey (or Massei) and Joe (Scarface) Bommarilo, whom he has meets with on the Beach (where he maintains a residence at 12 Island Ave., Belle Isle, Apartment 15). Tony Fat, born in The Bronx 48 years ago, is fat (5 feet 6 inches, 234 pounds), and Tony Fat smokes crooked, black cigars.
Tony Fat lives high, though his means of support are indefinite. He once ran a supposedly legitimate jukebox service known as Metro Urban Co. (228 First Ave., New York) but sold out in 1950. The Miami Deed Office shows that in 1954 he sold a house in Miami Beach to sinister ex-con Paul (The Waiter) Ricca for $75,000 and it is also said that he books horse bets. He has a large, attractive house in Rhinebeck replete with stables and outbuildings.
In keeping with Tony's arriviste station, his 16-year-old daughter takes riding lessons. She calls the hoods who guard her daddy "Uncle," and once she told a friend that Uncle So-and-So was doing a lot of target shooting in the backyard.
One of Tony's favorite hangouts is The Playroom on New York's West 58th St., where he is seen with the "uncles" and a moll named Jessica.
Tony's record isn't much longer than his pudgy thumb. He was picked up on a vagrancy charge on the Beach in 1947, was arrested as a suspicious person in Providence in 1945 and was charged with a policy offense in New York in 1933. But the Miami Crime Commission knows him as "a Sicilian underworld character with jukebox connections in New York." New York knows him as an East Harlem policy baron. The FBI knows him as one of the top East Harlem mobsters. And Bill Rosensohn knew him as a one-third partner in Rosensohn Enterprises, Inc.
Rosensohn originally met Salerno in the company of Gambler Gil Beckley. Some months later, when Salerno declared himself in as a partner, Rosensohn accepted him for two major reasons: he promised to make money available to the promotion (it turned out, ironically, that he never put up any cash except to buy a substantial block of $100 tickets) and he had close contacts with such useful and influential figures as Cus D'Amato's good friend and confidant, Charley Black. In order to promote the fight it was paramount that Rosensohn remain in D'Amato's good graces. Toward this end he had already accepted Black as a partner.
When Salerno announced that he was a partner in Rosensohn Enterprises, he made it clear that he could not afford to have his name publicly involved. He said he needed to be represented in the promotion by a legitimate guy and introduced Rosensohn to his friend, Vincent J. Velella, a fellow East Harlemite who is a lawyer and politician. Velella, then, was Salerno's front.
What is, in essence, quite a simple story has been obscured in the public mind by a barrage of obfuscating claims and counterclaims. Rosensohn, in his desperate anxiety to promote the fight, saddled himself with an unavowable alliance. When these allies turned on him and sought to oust him—rashly inviting exposure of themselves and their manipulations—Rosensohn decided to cooperate with the authorities and told most of the sordid story to the public via this magazine.