The little band of evil men who were convicted last week in Los Angeles of conspiring to extort a share of the meager earnings of an inferior welterweight champion, Don Jordan, sum up in their positions and personalities the underworld control that, in less than a generation, has reduced prizefighting from an exciting sport to a perverted and sadistic racket. They are:
Frankie Carbo, the murderous hoodlum who, in connivance with the International Boxing Club, controlled boxing by threats of violence.
Blinky Palermo, fight manager and Carbo's No. 1 lackey, who fronted for the powerful mobster in states that were willing to tolerate him. There were quite a few such states.
Truman Gibson Jr. who, though a graduate of the University of Chicago and a lawyer, lacked the moral sense to see that there was anything wrong with employing hoodlums to keep fighters and fight managers in line so that television might be assured a steady supply of talent for IBC-promoted fights.
Also: two muscle men, Joe Sica and Louis Tom Dragna, who were retained to add substance to Carbo's telephoned threats of murder and mayhem.
One fight manager, Don Nesseth, had the courage to defy Carbo and reject his control. One boxing figure, Jackie Leonard, had the courage to resist Carbo, though weakly, and eventually to testify against him. These two made it possible for a federal jury to convict the five and drum them out of the sport forever.
One old familiar face is missing. James D. Norris, who hired Gibson to hire hoodlums to do his dirty work, is scot free and permitted to carry on his wealthy sportsman pose while racing his horses in such states as Florida and Illinois, neither of which seems to see anything wrong in licensing a lifetime associate of mobsters. The weakness of state commissions in tolerating the likes of Norris and Carbo is an old story in boxing, which is why Senator Estes Kefauver has been able to present such a convincing case for the establishment of a federal boxing commission. The gentlemen who control racing might consider the implications.
MOLD THAT LINE
The newest idea in athletic assistance came last week from Ames, Iowa where farmers are now being asked to donate beef for the Iowa State University's training table. The plan is called More Beef in the Line, and any Iowa farmer who donates a steer to the university will be given priority on reserved seats at the football games as well as preferred parking benefits and, on Nov. 11, a banquet.