The decision of the New York State Athletic Commission to deny Sonny Liston a license to fight Heavyweight Champion Floyd Patterson will cost the state more than a little in tax and other revenues, but it is worth it. The cynical acceptance of hoodlum control in prizefighting, even by those charged with enforcing the rules, has been basically responsible for the reduction of the sport to its present low condition. Along with California, which announced that it, too, would reject Liston, New York has taken a step toward the restoration of confidence in boxing.
Naturally, those who never have cared a hoot about who was in control so long as money was in the till are uttering sharp, confused cries of dismay. The New York Daily News printed a cartoon showing the commission stomping on Liston's hands as he clings to the brink of an abyss. It was a foul blow and should cost the News a round.
The word "rehabilitation" is being overworked in some sections of the press, while in others we are pointlessly reminded that archbishops rarely make effective fighters. All of this studiously avoids the central issue, which the commission made quite clear: Liston was refused a license because of his links with mobsters.
"We cannot ignore the possibility that these longtime associations continue to this day," the commission said (see page 18). "The wrong people do not disengage easily."
They don't, indeed. Only the naive or the corrupt could believe that Mobster Blinky Palermo would disengage himself voluntarily from a potential heavyweight champion—representing control of boxing and a vast fortune—except at the payment of a substantial price, a price so substantial that neither Liston nor any of his overt associates have it.
RETURN OF THE DOOZY
The first car ever to average better than 100 mph for the Indianapolis 500-mile race was a Duesenberg driven by Peter De Paolo in 1925. In 32 ensuing races a mere 38 mph has been added to that old record,an improvement of barely a mile per hour per year.
It seems quite fitting, then, that the pace car for the qualifying heats this Memorial Day will be a 1925 Duesenberg driven by Peter De Paolo. Restored with a sporty roadster instead of a racing body, the car is the contribution of William Harrah, Reno gambling house proprietor and owner of perhaps the world's finest collection of antique, classic and vintage automobiles. And none finer than that old Doozy.
Advertising Man Ed Graham ("Bert and Harry Piel," et al.) ran an April fool contest on New York's advertising row, winners to be awarded box-seat tickets to games between the New York Mets and the Philadelphia Phillies. First prize: a box seat to one game. Second prize: a box seat to four games. Honorable mention: a box seat to every 1962 Mets-Phillies game in New York.