Sandy's manager was Hymie Wallman, a furrier with a longtime interest in fighters and a man who knew all the wrong people in the right places to control boxing in 1951. At the start of Sandy's professional career, Wallman departed from the usual practice, under which a manager supports a fighter until his earnings begin, and allowed the welfare department of New York to take care of the Sandy family while his boy was coming along. Sandy soon reached a bracket where his purse should have been about $5,000 a fight, but somehow, when Wallman finished paying expenses and taking his own cut, Sandy's share often came to less than $1,000. The fighter complained. "1 told him I wouldn't fight for less than $1,000 a fight, at least $100 a round. We didn't have no contract anymore, and Hymie agreed to give me $1,000. I never cared how much he was getting as long as I got at least my $1,000."
Syd Martin encouraged Sandy to invest in real estate. He said, "You put your money away and buy that house." ( Ike Chestnut was in the same situation as Sandy. He bought himself a Cadillac. He doesn't have the Cadillac any more, but Sandy still has his house.) A month before the Sandy family actually moved into the new house, he went into the Army for a two-year hitch.
After his discharge in 1956 he resumed his professional career with a fight in Houston against Alfonso Flores. Sandy won on a knockout in three rounds Then he ran into Herman Calhoun, better known as Rory, at St. Nick's. Calhoun was undefeated in 20 fights. In the first minute of the first round Sandy missed a left, stepped back, and Calhoun's right caught him on the point of his chin. He went down but was up at the count of three. He took the mandatory eight count in a neutral corner but went down again under a flurry of body blows followed by a right uppercut. A right to the body sprawled him on the ropes, and this third knockdown in one round added up to an automatic TKO under New York State boxing rules.
Sandy rallied for five successive wins. With a modest stake from these fights, he married Ruth Middleton and set up housekeeping. But his relationship with Hymie Wallman had deteriorated to the point where Sandy had become a fighting gypsy, meeting opponents in Houston, Las Vegas, Syracuse, Chicago, Boston, Hamilton, Ont. and other points far from home. In the familiar pattern of the promising fighter, the troubles with the manager now became melodramatic: in 1958 Wallman confessed to distributing $100 bills and other gratuities to a New York boxing judge. Hymie lost his managerial prerogatives.
Now Sandy found it almost impossible to get fights in New York. He traveled through Europe, where he was the victim of an astounding number of peculiar decisions. Disgusted, he came back to the States, and found boxing in the doldrums. St. Nick's was closed, and fights were held on off nights at the Academy of Music on 14th Street, a cavernous, 3,525-seat movie palace, where the ring was placed on the stage and a spectator at ringside had the illusion of having blundered into a dress rehearsal. Beyond the ropes and the canvas, the fighters faced the shadowy, half-empty orchestra pit; above them were gold-trimmed balconies as ornate as the Golden Horseshoe at the Metropolitan Opera House. Fighters at the Academy of Music were paid in part with tickets which they were expected to sell to friends, neighbors and small shopkeepers. There were only 1,430 fans scattered about under the lofty crystal chandeliers when Sandy met Emile Griffith. Griffith had a record of 13 straight victories, and Sandy had lost 11 of his last 15 fights. "He was always in the adverse psychological position of fighting in the other guy's backyard," said Syd Martin, explaining the losses. Sandy demonstrated flashes of brilliance, took a split decision from Griffith and set back Griffith's progress toward the welterweight championship.
But the boxing environment was closing in steadily. When Sandy fought Henry Hank in Detroit in October 1960, Wallman persuaded him to take 25% of the gate instead of his usual $1,000 guarantee. Sandy lost a close fight. He received $250 and terminated his association with Wallman completely. Acting as his own manager, he arranged a sequence of fights, the last of which was with George Wright in Tacoma, Wash., where he dropped a close decision in January of 1962. He received $500 and expenses and hasn't fought since.
In spite of all these reversals and the downward drift of the recent past, Sandy retains a spark of the optimism that is a prerequisite to a boxing career. He has a new manager, George Sheppard. He keeps in condition. Four or five times a week he sets the alarm clock for predawn and takes a seven-mile run along Pelham Parkway. After running, he goes back to bed and tries to sleep. By this time Ruth is out of bed, has done the laundry and made breakfast for the children before leaving for her job as a bookkeeper. Later in the morning Sandy watches television. "I like some of those stories that run from day to day," he says. In the afternoon he takes the subway to the CYO gym. After the workout he goes to another gym where he is training two fighters for another manager. It is on these trips that Sandy carries his tan attach� case. "I won't carry a canvas bag like some fighters," Sandy says. "I won't carry my gloves in my hand if they don't fit in the case. I'd rather make two trips to the gym than do that, because I don't want somebody to say, look, there goes a pugilist. I want to be known for myself."
Ruth looks at Sandy's boxing future with understandable lack of enthusiasm. "It's been going on so long," she says. "I don't care about it anymore." Syd Martin says that Randy can fight for another three or four years. What he can do in addition to fighting is perplexing. He studied to be an electrician at Chelsea Vocational High School, but he hasn't a license to practice and has no prospect of obtaining one. Few employers want to hire a man who is going to absent himself periodically to train for fights. Last fall he earned some walking-around money as an extra in David Susskind's film production, Requiem for a Heavyweight. The plot of the film, burdened with melodramatic claptrap, turned on the tragedy of a first-rate fighter, Mountain Rivera, who is revolted by the need to take part in the farce known as wrestling in order to make a living. The film tragedy of Rivera, however, didn't impress Randy Sandy. "Wrestle?" he said, "Why not? I've known for a long time that fighting is a business, and I'm fighting to make money. Wrestling is also a way to make money."
A man of pride
While Sandy is willing to work as a film extra or even a wrestler, he retains pride in himself as a fighter. When somebody asked if he hadn't picked up a few dollars once as a sparring partner for Giulio Rinaldi, Sandy firmly replied, "I was not a sparring partner. They asked me to work with the man and I did. I did not get paid like a sparring partner—they gave me a gift—and I worked when I felt like it."