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THE EATONS AND McCOYS
The cynic's chronic sneer was leveled at Governor Goodwin J. Knight a year ago when he created a committee to investigate boxing's dirty business in California. Nothing would come of it, the cynics said, because Cal (Alvah) Eaton's son was married to the governor's daughter, and Cal (Alvah) Eaton had long thrown his promotional weight around southern California. For years the boxing commission had been browbeaten by Eaton's match-maker sidekick, Babe (Harry Rudolph) McCoy, a corpulent onetime stolen-car fence and dinner companion of Frankie Carbo (SI, June 11).
Now the committee's report is in, and it gives no nourishment to cynics, no sop to nepotism. There is a new boxing commission in California and the early liquidation of Eaton, McCoy and a slimy slew of associates seems at hand. The governor's committee found that boxing in California was a mess of fixed fights, cheated boxers, indiscriminate licensing of criminals, hoodlum influence, poor and sometimes criminally dishonest officiating, and monopoly.
McCoy's name soiled page after page. "All of us who worked on this project," the committee said, "have had experience in law enforcement and in the course of such employment have known criminals. McCoy is as vicious as any of us have encountered." And Eaton, the report continued, "has been fully aware of and has approved of McCoy's methods of operation."
There was evidence, according to the report, that Eaton "bet large sums of money on the 'sure things' at the Olympic Auditorium," and that he had dealt directly with Frankie Carbo, paying him $10,000 for the services of then Lightweight Champion Jimmy Carter, supposedly managed by Willie (The Undertaker) Ketchum.
Eaton, once so quick to defy honest boxing officials, was equally quick to deny that he had ever bet on "any sport" or had done business with underworld characters. And, from long and profitable habit, he was quick to refer to his association "with Governor Knight himself." He hired Hollywood's favorite mouthpiece, Jerry Giesler, who was a boxing commission chairman himself once, to file a $300,000 suit against James E. Cox, special counsel for the governor's committee and the man most responsible for the success of the governor's crusade to make boxing decent.
As for Cox, he had established that he was not interested in mere legalistics. He had a fine chance, for instance, to skewer Sid Flaherty, the northern California overlord who openly functioned as both promoter and manager, though this duality is expressly unlawful. He could have called for revocation of Flaherty's license, as he had done for Eaton and McCoy. But Flaherty told the simple, direct truth under oath, admitted his illegalities and was, furthermore, disclosed as a manager who treated his fighters with fairness and solicitude. The committee recommended only that Flaherty be fined substantially and make up his mind as to whether he was a promoter or manager.
The success of Cox is, of course, a success only up to the moment, but the future of boxing in California is much brighter. Governor Knight has appointed a whole new boxing commission and has given it a highly competent executive secretary, David L. Luce, who previously had charge of criminal investigation as a section chief in the Department of Justice. Luce is described as a dogged man and not likely to be hindered by cynical evaluations of what can and cannot be done to political relatives.
A quiet beer garden, hard by a wide sweep of pleasantly green turf, opened in Washington last week. The management charges a modest cover, but provides a two-hour-plus floor show. The garden occupies Griffith Stadium's new lower left-field bleachers, installed this year to shorten the outfield and thus encourage more home runs. But when the lackluster Senators failed to attract customers enough for these new seats, the management jettisoned a 55-year ban on beer at the park, leaving Pittsburgh and Philadelphia as the only dry stadiums.