California used to be fondly proud of Art Aragon, the welterweight known as Golden Boy. He had Hollywood looks, and he won an impressive number of victories over carefully selected opponents in the prize rings of the state. Lately, California has been having sour second thoughts.
On Dec. 18, Aragon was scheduled to fight Dick Goldstein in San Antonio, but the fight never took place, Aragon having developed a slight fever on the night of the bout. Goldstein then accused the Golden Boy of offering him $500 to take a dive in the fourth round (SI, Jan. 7). Lie detector tests and concomitant evidence resulted in Aragon's being banned in all NBA-regulated states and in the withholding of his 1957 California license. Last month a California grand jury indicted him on a charge of trying to fix the San Antonio fight, and last week a jury convicted him. Sentence is to be handed down March 21 and the rueful Golden Boy could receive up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both. It appears in any event—as a California official put it—that Aragon's boxing future is "very doubtful."
The prosecution offered a comment on the verdict. "Very definitely," said Deputy District Attorney William J. Ritzi, "the jury opinion indicates the thought that boxing is very dirty and should be cleaned up."
Illinois boxing commissioners have long taken the stand that nothing is wrong with boxing in Illinois. "If we had a local problem here," Commissioner Lou Radzienda has asked, "do you think we'd sit on our butts?"
The definitive answer came last week from Governor William ( Billy the Kid) Stratton, whose appointments to the commission have always been notable. Notably, for instance, Radzienda, who is a friend of bookies. Notably, also, Frank Gilmer, who refereed the first Basilio-Saxton fight. Stratton's third: William Henry Feigenbutz, who came to aldermanic prominence in the reign of Mayor William Hale Thompson of Chicago and whose first connection with boxing was, appropriately, in the days when it was illegal and he was a trainer. Governor Stratton flipped a dollop of whipped cream on this strawberry by reappointing Radzienda.
Feigenbutz, it must be admitted, sounds like a commissioner, a man who is fiercely for the right and has no idea what's wrong.
"I'm for good clean fights," says Feigenbutz. "I'll do anything to straighten out the mess—if there is a mess."
And then, thinking back on his career, he recalls the time when he was Big Bill Thompson's alderman for the 45th Ward.