But when Helfand needed a powerful ally in his battle with the Guild the commission chairman struck. By hindsight it is possible to judge that he had been saving his IBC punch for a time when he would need it. Norris came flying up from Florida and into conference with Helfand. He emerged to announce that the Guild, staunch though it had been in its agreements with the IBC, no longer could do business with his organization. That ended the Guild in New York. Its members resigned.
This, everyone agreed by then, was indeed a strange boxing commission. It was actually in command of boxing. It had destroyed the Guild and brought the IBC to heel. As for Carbo, he is seen but seldom in New York these days and then usually when he is passing through on his way to Boston, Miami, New Orleans or Montreal. Carbo henchmen are still around, still operating, and it is to be presumed that business arrangements continue, perhaps by courier, but certainly not on so blatant a basis as before.
Helfand has created at least one annoying obstacle to "the beards," as Carbo's front men are called. Boxing's financial business must now be conducted by check, not cash, and financial statements must be sworn to. The laws of perjury, he points out, are now available to him and the financial records of fight managers are now clearer to Internal Revenue agents. He does not pretend that either of these blocks cannot be circumvented, but they are at least hindrances to chicanery.
Helfand can further claim, though he does not, that the California cleanup and its counterpart in Pennsylvania derived at least inspiration from his sturdy example, along with counsel and cooperation. Helfand's little candle, shining like a good deed in a naughty world, threw its beams clear across the country. Babe McCoy, as sinister a figure as ever fixed a fight, has been eliminated by the California commission, whose chairman, Dr. Dan O. Kilroy, says similar treatment will be meted out to "about a dozen" other licensees in 1957.
The Pennsylvania commission, appointed with Helfand's example as a model of what might be done, uncovered a fight in which a boxer had been doped, suspended some top figures and has been especially influential in promotion of a uniform code for boxing regulation through the National Boxing Association.
In his two years on the commission Helfand has made but one serious slip, though it turned out well enough in one respect. He had denounced states that permit fighters to sign contracts when their managers are suspended. He had particularly hooted at the State of Illinois which, in order to get a welterweight championship match, allowed Johnny Saxton to sign for himself in his Chicago bout with Carmen Basilio. Saxton is managed by Blinky Palermo, who can't even get a license in his home state of Pennsylvania these days. Everyone, Helfand said, knew that in such cases the fighter and manager met later in a hotel room to "whack up" the purse.
While his latest pronouncement on this favorite topic was on the magazine stands in an article under his byline, Helfand reversed himself. Basilio had been robbed of his title in Chicago and Helfand wanted him to have a fair chance at regaining it. So he abandoned his own principle in the interests of "simple justice." He allowed Saxton to fight Basilio in Syracuse, where Basilio won back his title. Saxton and Palermo whacked up the purse in a hotel room, all right, but Helfand still feels justified in his action. Other states just wouldn't go along with his principle, he points out, and there was no sense in New York standing alone.
He had, however, made New York stand alone on other principles, and in time other states did follow his stubborn lead. Those two sweethearts, Blinky and Johnny, are whacking up another purse in Cleveland this month, in the third running of the Basilio-Saxton Derby.
Still and all, Helfand's record has been excellent. He has established that boxing commissions can, by putting the good name of the sport above the convenience of its beneficiaries, restore a fair degree of public confidence in boxing. Helfand believes that that has been his No. 1 accomplishment.
FEW COMPLAINTS NOW