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But Kessler did nothing of the sort, of course, though some of the spectators were walking out on the silly affair. This is the TV era of boxing, with the IBC in command, and that's the way it's going to be until a competitive situation is established in boxing.
VINDICATION FOR MUGGSY
In Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, there's this Muggsy Taylor. Now Muggsy's not the First Citizen of Philadelphia, but neither is he the first citizen Philadelphians would like to ride out of town on a rail.
Muggsy is not really a complex character, but he is a man with sides. One is the less gainly side he himself revealed from the witness chair in 1950 when the Kefauver crime committee was playing an engagement in Philadelphia. He was a friend of, Muggsy said, or otherwise acquainted with, such underworld characters as Frankie Carbo, boxing's most sinister behind-the-scenes figure, Al (Scarface) Capone, Charlie (Lucky) Luciano, Frank Costello, Charley Fischetti, Rocco Fischetti, Jake (Greasy Thumb) Guzik, Meyer (Slats) Lansky, Little Augie Pisano, Mickey Cohen, Longy Zwillman and Murray (The Camel) Humphreys. To which may be added Harry (Nig Rosen) Stromberg, recently indicted in New York as head of a multimillion-dollar narcotics ring.
But then there is the blindingly virtuous side that was revealed for the first time recently when Philadelphia Mayor Richardson Dilworth, District Attorney Victor Blanc, City Council President James H. J. Tate, Municipal Court Judge Emanuel W. Beloff, Commissioner Bert Bell of the National Football League, and Frank Weiner, former chairman of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission, stepped to another chair in an inquiry into Muggsy's general worth and allowed with right hands raised as how Herman Taylor (Muggsy's square moniker) is one of the most valuable and trustworthy, though as yet unsculptured, citizens of the historic Pennsylvania metropolis.
The occasion for the revelation arose when doubt had been cast on Muggsy's essential fitness to hold a license to promote prizefights in the State of Pennsylvania, and it came in the nick of time, for a former fight manager and a once up-and-coming middleweight fighter gave testimony before the Pennsylvania boxing commission that Muggsy was anything but the righteous promoter he was being cracked up to be. The fight manager was Donald E. Rettman, 57, a former Trenton, N.J. department store personnel director. The fighter, George Johnson, 27, once had belonged to Rettman, though not for long. For, they testified, Muggsy had snatehed Johnson from Rettman and became his manager-in-fact though, as a promoter, it was illegal for him to manage fighters. He operated, they said, behind a front in the person of Archie Pirolli, Muggsy's press agent, who became Johnson's manager of record. Rettman was testifying, he said, even though he and his family had been threatened by New Jersey tough guys acting in Muggsy's behalf.
The threat had worked once, when the commission was forced to abandon an action against Muggsy because Rettman did not appear to testify and could not be subpoenaed out of New Jersey. Muggsy just let his promoter's license lapse on December 31, 1955 and waited until last April, a more propitious time, he felt, to apply for a new one. But in the meantime Rettman and Johnson had come to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED with their story, and SPORTS ILLUSTRATED had properly referred them and their evidence to the Pennsylvania commission.
Muggsy's lawyer—a Philadelphia lawyer, natch—was Morton Witkin, alternately badgering and gracious, and always loquacious. In the end it turned out that Witkin could have sat serenely silent, like a TV drama lawyer, and said nothing more than "No questions, your honor," throughout the proceedings. For it developed that the commission had to grant the license anyhow, or believed it did, because the evidence against Muggsy, who denied everything, referred to events before August 31, 1955, which is when the new Pennsylvania Athletic Code came into being. Under a recent decision of the Court of Common Pleas of Dauphin County, the commission cannot punish a licensee, or refuse a license to an applicant, because of acts committed before the code became law. So the commission felt "impelled" to grant Muggsy his license.
What this means, apparently, is that brotherly love also will be extended even to Frankie Carbo, onetime gun slinger for Murder, Inc., if Frankie should apply for a license in Pennsylvania and no one could prove that he had done wrung since 1955. But the chances are Frankie doesn't want a license. His old friend Muggsy has one, and brotherly love to spare.