JIM AND THE TRUTH
Five years ago James D. Norris committed perjury by telling the New York State Athletic Commission that his meetings with Mobster Frankie Carbo were infrequent, accidental and—dear me!—entirely unrelated to boxing. It was perjury because at that very moment Carbo, the murderer, was functioning as an enforcer paid by Norris to bring boxers and their managers to heel.
Last week Norris was steered over the same ground before the Kefauver subcommittee (see page 12). But times have changed. The world of the IBC and James D. Norris, President, has come tumbling down and, besides, the statute of limitations on perjury is five years. So Norris admitted that he and Carbo had tripped hand in hand through boxing's garden of evil, spreading fertilizer, and a little muscle, as they went. It was a sickening but unsurprising admission by boxing's prize fleur du mal.
Why did great sovereign states like New York truckle to the Norris-Carbo conspiracy? They did it for money, even as Norris and Carbo. Gentleman Jim made it eminently plain early in the game that any state that opposed him would get it right in the pocketbook. Big fights bring big tax revenues. And a million-dollar gate means an additional million dollars in revenue to hotels, nightclubs and restaurants. Boxing commissions, usually made up of minor-league politicians, are under constant pressure to bring this money in.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a pathetic example of what could happen to a state that opposed Norris. When the Pennsylvania Boxing Commission put a few antiseptic provisions into its regulations Pennsylvania stopped getting Norris fights. Other states where boxing flourishes got the message.
This subservience to mob control would disappear under a federal licensing system. Those who manage boxing's dirty business then would have no place to run, except abroad.
And even there they might have trouble if the head of the U.S. licensing commission were to join forces with European and Asian and Latin American boxing control bodies in the designation of world champions and approval of boxing personnel. Last January this magazine urged the necessity of world control and pointed out that the first step must be the creation of a clean house at home. To this end, the Kefauver subcommittee is wielding a useful new broom.
THE SINFUL STANDARDBRED
It is a curious fact of the sporting life that a competitor sometimes appears who smokes, swears, carouses, drinks and wins. And wins.
There was Tony Galento, who trained for heavyweight fights on malt alcohol. And Babe Ruth, who on certain days could not tell his vest from second base. And Grover Cleveland Alexander, who was even known to order fifths of milk.