Now Aragon wants to return to the ring. There are two hurdles in his path. The district attorney may decide to retry the case. The California boxing commission, noting that Texas suspended Aragon after being persuaded that he did indeed offer a bribe there, may choose to honor a sister commission's verdict and refuse him a California license.
If Aragon gets past these hurdles he will have good reason to feel humble. He will have good reason to turn his back on such cronies as Babe McCoy, the fence who became a matchmaker-fixer, and Frankie Carbo, the Murder, Inc. killer who became boxing's underworld lord. He might even learn to take a sporting chance in the ring and not try to insure his bets.
A WORD TO THE WISE GUYS
The small lesson Art Aragon may or may not have learned from his experience with dirty business and the courts can be extended to cover the whole field of boxing and, in fact, of all sport. It is a commonplace defense of boxing's dirty business that the sport traditionally attracts rough and ready types, rough in their ethics and ready for any kind of crookedness. Hence it is considered no great fault in a boxing man that he may from time to time have a cup of coffee with a Frankie Carbo. This is, in fact, the everyday defense of a Muggsy Taylor (recently reinstated as a Philadelphia promoter) or a James D. Norris (currently our leading promoter). Boxing commissions affect, as a matter of course, to accept the defense as a valid one, though many commission members are lawyers and all are presumed to be intelligent.
But every so often he who runs may read in the headlines of such events as the pistol impeachment of Albert (christened Umberto and known as Boom-Boom) Anastasia, who was murdered last week in a New York barbershop. The Anastasia murder makes it apparent that it is no less than indiscreet for a Norris or a Taylor, or any other entrepreneur of a sport that makes a pretense of decency, to keep company with mobsters. All sports in which gambling is an important factor, except boxing, make at least some earnest effort to keep the mobsters out. If not out, at least inconspicuous.
It is significant, therefore, that the New York police, investigating the murder of the man who directed murder for Murder, Inc., turned immediately to the questioning of men who were associated both with Anastasia, who was very high in the modern version of the Mama, and with boxing men. It is significant that the name of Frankie Carbo, Public Enemy No. 1 of decent boxing, popped instantly into the headlines. Norris and Taylor and Carbo have known each other for a score of years. Carbo, indeed, used to work for Anastasia as a kind of lethal clerk or errand boy.
Last week SPORTS ILLUSTRATED reported the kind of company Muggsy Taylor keeps. Twelve names of gangsters, all nationally notorious, were mentioned as admitted friends of Taylor, who is now once more licensed to promote boxing in Pennsylvania. This week, when Anastasia was murdered, the police questioned two of them—Frank Costello and Little Augie Pisano. Most of the others are now dead.
Muggsy Taylor, who used to send Christmas cards to Al Capone and began his sporting career as an Atlantic City steerer for a gambling joint, will very shortly take his place once more as the most distinguished of Pennsylvania boxing promoters. He will very likely, as in the past, have his name sounded in your living room by a television announcer as the honored associate of the International Boxing Club ( James D. Norris, president) in the promotion of a big fight.
A TIP ON NIKOV
A proper russian named Grigori Gogoberidze has been lurking about Moscow's harness racing track, the Hippodrome, and has found it a slough of bourgeois immorality. Writing in Sovietskaya Kultura, the organ of the Ministry of Culture, Gogoberidze wields an abolitionist's ax at the tote board, which he considers the engine of racing's evils. He envisions instead a more seemly time when the Hippodrome will "be filled with genuine admirers of horses whose interests have nothing in common with betting." But he finds that the Ministry of Agriculture, which supervises breeding and racing, does not think it "expedient" to abolish pari-mutuel betting at present. "Why?" cries Gogo. "Profit!" he replies, darkly.