SI Vault
 
The Eleven Men Behind Cassius Clay
Huston Horn
March 11, 1963
Innocent of prizefighting's bad old ways, these gentlemen hope by their example to put an end to the exploiting of boxers. They expect Clay to get rich—and to get a little bit richer themselves
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 11, 1963

The Eleven Men Behind Cassius Clay

Innocent of prizefighting's bad old ways, these gentlemen hope by their example to put an end to the exploiting of boxers. They expect Clay to get rich—and to get a little bit richer themselves

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5

The mechanics of matchmaking and the methods of training are left pretty much up to Faversham and Angelo Dundee. On this score, Dundee opposed Faversham's idea for Clay to fight Alex Miteff, and Faversham opposed Dundee's matching Clay with Archie Moore. The upshot was that neither was able to change the other's mind, but since Clay won both fights handily, Dundee and Faversham are even. Otherwise the balance of the syndicate tends to sit back and hope for the best. Says Dundee: "I never hear much from the others except occasionally one of the younger ones—worried about his investment, I suppose—will ask me if Cassius is holding his left maybe a little too low or don't I think he is putting on too much weight too fast. But if anybody is boss of this boy, it's the contract. In all my years I've never known a fighter getting such a break as this."

The syndicate's physical participation in its heavyweight's career, then, is mostly confined to seeing as many of Clay's fights as they can (often flying to out-of-town sites in a Brown-Forman DC-3), and, to insure they are beholden to no one, they pay for their ringside tickets just like everyone else. "Some of us wouldn't cross the street to see a concert," says Sutcliffe, "but we'll go hundreds of miles to see Cassius in the ring." So far, the fights have also provided fine opportunities for victory celebrations (with everybody standing around smoking Viceroys and drinking Jack Daniel's) and, as Cassius himself says, "they all get a chance to say to their friends, 'Come on over here and meet our boy, the next heavyweight champion of the world.' " "Even if we lost every cent," says Ross Todd, "I'd say we've already had $2,800 worth of fun."

Of course, it doesn't hurt, as matters stand, that the syndicate has recouped all but $10,000 of the total $28,000 investment. (It spent $9,000 more than it took in in 1961, but last year it made all that back.) Nor does it hurt that a Louisville doctor not long ago offered $8,500 for one of those $2,800 shares. Which brings up again the question of what reward the syndicate seeks.

"All we want to do is to see that Cassius winds up rich," says one man who has already wound up that way. "Our motive," says another, "is to do something for boxing at a time the sport needs help. And I think, in our own little way, we've done just that. We've shown it is not a sport that must be controlled by the underworld." And, says a third, thinking of a nice way to put it: "You know it doesn't hurt sales in the Negro market if some of Clay's sponsors happen to be strongly identified with shall we say—consumer products."

"Let me give you the official line," volunteers a man who wants to remain in the shadows. "We are behind Cassius Clay to improve the breed of boxing, to do something nice for a deserving, well-behaved Louisville boy and, finally, to save him from the jaws of the hoodlum jackals. I don't know who composed that—maybe the executive committee—but I think it's beautiful. I think it's 50% true but also 50% hokum. What I want to do, like a few others, is to make a bundle of money. Why, do you know a Clay-Liston fight might gross a winner's share of $3 million? Split that up and it comes out $1.5 million for Cassius and $1.5 million for the syndicate. Best of all, it comes out $150,000 for me."

1 2 3 4 5