Ross went to Yale and holds a commercial pilot's license. He took up flying at college partly as a result of flying off a horse while drag hunting in Aiken, S.C. when he was 13. Ross hurt his back in the accident and had to give up schoolboy athletics. He is the official treasurer of the Clay syndicate, but his father's secretary is paid to do the paper work.
Ross Todd's godfather is VERTNER DE-GARMO SMITH SR. Vert Smith is also an old, old friend of Lyons Brown, having once been sales manager for Brown-Forman and having once, in partnership with Brown and two other men, owned a small stable of racehorses. The horses never got close to the Kentucky Derby, but Smith did as vice-chairman of the Kentucky State Racing Commission in the middle '40s.
A native of Louisville, Vert Smith, 69, wears glasses and a down-in-the-mouth expression. He is the antithesis of Clay's unflagging ebullience but, as he says, "Since Cassius doesn't smoke or drink or chase around, I can stand it." Still, Smith is a perfectly friendly and persuasive man and can prove it, because he has made a lot of money selling a lot of things: stocks and bonds and fire insurance, fraternity pins, table salt and whisky. His business now is selling liquor wholesale at a $4.5-million-a-year clip and, naturally, he helps push the Brown-Forman line in Kentucky. Vert Smith used to box for exercise as a young man, and since Cassius Clay has come into his life he has read a "good book" about boxing, but he can't recollect its title.
Robert Worth Bingham is 30, and the title on his door is Assistant to the Publisher. The publisher is his father, Barry Bingham, and the publications are Louisville's two newspapers, The Courier-Journal and The Louisville Times.
Worth Bingham, a long-faced, frank-talking young man, is now learning the advertising end of newspapering since he has just wound up a seven-year apprenticeship on the news side. He feels that his financial future is relatively secure but makes no bones about his hopes, along the way, to reap a profit through his share in the Clay syndicate. Bingham was schooled in the East, in Europe and at Harvard, but he gave up boxing shortly after he was introduced to the sport in grade school. Now obliged to keep abreast of the professional game, he buys The Ring magazine each month at the Readmore Card Shop in downtown Louisville. He is valuable to the syndicate because he helps it get a good local press, and no wonder, but no one has yet worked out the sticky business of which paper has first dibs on the syndicate's press releases.
Public relations are also served to Clay and his backers by GEORGE WASHINGTON NORTON IV. Possum Norton, as he is called, is no kin to George Washington, but is distantly related, through his mother, to Martha. More useful to the syndicate is the fact that George IV's father owns the NBC-affiliated radio and TV stations. (Barry Bingham, by the way, owns the CBS-TV affiliate.) Consequently, George, a 29-year-old Yale-man with prep-school ( Taft) good looks, is secretary-treasurer of WAVE-TV. Norton has high hopes for The Louisville Sponsoring Group, having already tasted defeat in two other sporting ventures. Because he is married to a daughter of a well-known Kentucky Thoroughbred breeder, Warner Jones, Norton once bought two racehorses. As it turned out, they couldn't run. Later he invested about $1,000 in the Louisville Raiders, a professional football team. They were unable to keep pace with the United Football League and are defunct.
Now, a good friend of George Norton's father-in-law—through horse breeding—is PATRICK CALHOUN JR., who admits, "What I know about boxing you can put in your eye." What Pat Calhoun, a compact man with the sinister figure of Peter Lorre and the broad, open face of an Irish cop, knows about racehorses is something else, and the way he puts it is, "If a man is interested in horses he gets a little adventuresome spirit in his blood and might as well put his trust in a fighter as a horse." Calhoun's trust in horses has been returned in satisfying ways. He used to race them with some success, and today he takes his ease on a 700-acre broodmare and cattle farm 18 miles east of Louisville. Now 71, Calhoun is the retired "and some sort of honorary" chairman of the American Commercial Barge Line, the largest inland boat company in the world. Yaleman Calhoun has been in the boat-building business since before World War I, when he was a bird of a different feather: he gave seat-of-the-pants flying lessons to U.S. pilots in France.
Elbert Gary Sutcliffe introduces himself, if asked, as a "retired farmer." The fact is, says a friend, Sutcliffe could have retired the day he was born in Wheaton, Ill. 68 years ago. The reason becomes clear when one examines Sutcliffe's first two names: he is the grandson of Judge Elbert Gary, and both Sutcliffe and Gary, Ind. are named after the first chairman of U.S. Steel.
But before he retired, Sutcliffe went to Exeter, then to Centre College, that storied little school in Danville, Ky. that manufactured the football upset of the century in 1921 when it beat Harvard 6-0. After a year of "not applying himself," Sutcliffe dropped out of Centre, got married and went to work as a clerk for the Illinois Steel Co., then a U.S. Steel subsidiary.
Today, from behind his tortoise-shell glasses and faint, gray mustache Elbert Gary Sutcliffe looks out on the world with a wry benignity. He nurses a mild case of gout, which he depends upon to act up dutifully when he needs a social excuse, he describes his 300-acre estate outside Louisville on the Ohio River as a "dirt farm," and in the backyard lagoon of his winter home in Osprey on Florida's west coast near Sarasota he has a motorboat that he keeps tied fast to the dock. "I don't like it, I never use it," he says. "I got it just so people would hush telling me I ought to have a boat like everyone else in Florida."