Vince Martinez is an up-and-coming welterweight of 25 whose biggest winning purse so far has been $27,000. Three weeks ago he was offered $20,000 to lose. SI here tells the story—the latest chapter in the story of boxing's dirty business—for the first time.
The story begins on Wednesday, Oct. 27 when Vince Martinez finished his morning roadwork in Paterson, N.J. He was training for a Madison Square Garden fight, two nights later, with Carmine Fiore. At lunchtime Martinez drove to his nearby home. As he parked his car a voice called, "Hey, Vince!"
Martinez turned and saw two men lolling on the sidewalk a short distance away. They beckoned and Martinez walked over.
Without any preparation one of the men made the pitch. "How would you like to make a fast $20,000? All you have to do is lay down for Fiore."
Vince has what his older brother Phil calls "pride." "He's not cocky," says Phil, "but he knows he's a fighter and he knows he's good." Vince had beaten Fiore in 1953, and had a record of 38 wins, 3 defeats. He was eligible for a match with the welterweight titleholder, Johnny Saxton (SI, Nov. 1). Saxton's crown is worth roughly $150,000 to the wearer.
Martinez gave them a short answer. "Are you guys crazy? I'm in line for a title fight and you want me to lay down for this guy?"
"Think it over carefully, Vince," he was advised. "And don't do anything that might get you hurt." The conversation ended on this threat of violence. The men walked round the corner and drove off in a car.
That evening a worried Martinez, keeping the offer to himself, went back to the gym for a sparring session. He performed like a sloppy novice, missing openings, getting hit easily and often. It was apparent that Vince was not himself.
On Thursday Vince confided in his brother Phil. And Brother Phil gave him the right advice. They called the New York State Athletic Commission, under whose jurisdiction the fight was being held. The commission at once arranged a meeting in Manhattan with District Attorney Frank Hogan's office for that evening.
Vince told his story and the D.A.'s staff went to work. When the Martinez group left Hogan's office they were under a heavy but almost unobtrusive guard which stuck to them wherever they went.