The identity of the mystery man in a 15-year-old boxing scandal is now revealed for the first time. After fixing the Thomas-Schmeling and Thomas-Galento fights, James Norris Jr. went on to become the president of the IBC. Now he comes into your living room every time you tune in a major TV fight
Millions of Americans love boxing but have lost confidence in its honesty. Some of them go on hoping that although James D. Norris Jr.?unofficial boss of U.S. boxing?associates with hoodlums and tolerates them in and around boxing he will some day order the sport cleaned up. But James D. Norris is an unlikely candidate for the role of reformer.
SI has testimony?too impressive to be ignored?that Jim Norris himself has been a fixer of prize fights.
This is the same Jim Norris whose rugged face is flashed on television screens each week in advance of fights presented by the International Boxing Club. He is a wealthy and powerful man. At 48, he dominates the IBC, Madison Square Garden, Chicago Stadium, hockey's Chicago Black Hawks, the New York Rangers, a stable of horses and lots more. He has interlocking connections in other cities.
For all that, Norris associates with notorious police characters like Frank Carbo, Sammy (Golf Bag) Hunt and Eddie Coco. Coco, a convicted murderer who once managed Rocky Graziano, was the beneficiary of a character reference from Norris, who described him as "a man of his word, well liked and highly respected by his many friends."
The man who makes the charges against Norris is Harry Thomas, an all but forgotten heavyweight of the days when Joe Louis and Max Schmeling were big names in the ring. Thomas says his fight with Schmeling at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 13, 1937, in which Thomas supposedly was knocked out in the eighth round, was fixed?and the fixer was Jim Norris. Mike Jacobs, the big promotion wheel of the day who was eventually succeeded by Norris, knew the fight was fixed, according to Thomas. He says his Garden fight with Jimmy Adamick on Feb. 18, 1938 was one in which Thomas was supposed to "carry" Adamick. Thomas lost the decision. After losing these two fights Thomas nevertheless met Joe Louis for the heavyweight title at Chicago Stadium on April 1, 1938. He explains that the Louis bout, which he lost on the level, was part of his reward?from Jim Norris?for the two fixed fights. He said he took another dive?for Jim Norris?in his bout with Tony Galento in Philadelphia on Nov. 14, 1938.
According to Thomas, his secret manager through this period was Jim Norris, even though his manager of record at the time was Nate Lewis.
A good part of Thomas' story was published in 1939 when Arch Ward, Chicago Tribune sports editor, broke it. At that time there was no mention of Norris' part in the fixes. It is this part which is so important today when Norris controls boxing in virtually all important centers.
Who is Harry Thomas to pit his word against so important and powerful a man as Norris? He is a fellow who makes no excuses for what he did, who volunteered to take a lie detector test as evidence of his truthfulness and sincerity. He earns his living in Chicago as a stationary engineer, has been married for 16 years and has three children. His wife, from his home town of Eagle Bend, Minn., works as a nurse.
A lie detector test was given Thomas at SI's expense by John E. Reid, director of John E. Reid & Associates of Chicago, a former member of the Chicago police's Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory. Co-author of a standard work on lie detection and criminal interrogation, Reid concludes that Thomas is telling the truth.