On September 25
Chicago will be the scene of a heavyweight championship fight between the
incumbent, Floyd Patterson, and his challenger, Sonny Liston. If form means
anything, Chicago also will be the scene of more confusion than the Honorable
Richard J. Daley, mayor, has ever experienced. To be sure, a heavyweight
championship fight always tends to be a somewhat tumultuous and disorganized
affair. But this one carries a built-in guarantee of confusion: it is promoted
by Championship Sports, Inc., an outfit that specializes in promotional bedlam.
It is no simple task even to determine who is Championship Sports, Inc. Subject
to hourly change, substitution and correction, the dramatis personae in CSI
appear to be:
Tom Bolan, 38, a
tight-lipped partner in Roy Cohn's law firm and the president of CSI.
Al Bolan, 33,
Tom's "nice guy" brother, Brooklyn-bred sports editor of the Greenpoint
Star, a neighborhood weekly. New to the big money, well-meaning, but
inexperienced. Vice-president and general manager of CSI.
Roy Cohn, 35,
onetime boy gumshoe for the late Senator Joe McCarthy, now a Wall Street lawyer
and budding industrialist (Lionel Corporation). Until recently, Cohn has been
too busy flitting from one thing to another to bother with CSI on a daily
Bill Fugazy, 37,
Cohn's buddy. In the travel business. May or may not have an interest in CSI—it
depends on who's talking. If it's Fugazy, the answer is yes. If his associates,
history of this merry band dates back to the fall of 1959 when Cohn and Fugazy
took over an outfit called Feature Sports, the main chunk of debris remaindered
from the Bill Rosensohn promotional debacle. Neither of them knew anything
about boxing, so Bill's uncle, Humbert (Jack) Fugazy, a respected boxing man
highly regarded by Cus D'Amato, Patterson's manager, was made the promoter. Tom
Bolan became treasurer.
Uncle Jack was
slowly eased to one side by his nephew and Cohn, and the second
Patterson-Johansson fight at the Polo Grounds in New York almost literally
turned into a riot. The crowd totaled 50,000, but only 32,000 had paid to get
in. The rest were gate crashers. Spectators adopted a first-come, first-sit
policy, with squatter's rights paramount. Many with $100 tickets couldn't see
the fight because of the glut in the aisles.
Jack and Ned Brown, another respected boxing figure, who was handling
publicity, had warned that extra guards would be necessary, their warnings were
disregarded. When the whole mess was over, Bill Fugazy airily blamed the
police. "The cops' fault," he announced. To which Police Commissioner
Steve Kennedy retorted, "The police function is to enforce public law for
the protection of all the public and not to assist fight promoters who chisel
Ned Brown, who
left Feature Sports after the fight, has expressed an intention to sue. "I
wasn't paid what I was promised," he says, "and they didn't pay the
expenses guaranteed to me." Brown, who is 79 years old, says, "Over the
years, I've never had an experience like this."
With ill will
festering in New York, Feature Sports sought a new site for the third and final
Patterson-Johansson fight. In July of 1960 Bill Fugazy announced that the fight
would be held in Los Angeles Coliseum on November 1, and said he expected a
million-dollar gate. The fight was held in Miami Beach in March 1961, and it
grossed a live gate of about $500,000.