SI Vault
Martin Kane
July 01, 1957
Ruling for the People, a federal court judge this week ordered boxing's dirty business (SI, Nov. 1, '54 et seq.) cleaned up now
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July 01, 1957

James D. Norris Must Get Out!

Ruling for the People, a federal court judge this week ordered boxing's dirty business (SI, Nov. 1, '54 et seq.) cleaned up now

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?"The unlawful combination of the defendants still possesses and exercises its monopolistic control in the field of championship contests."

?"The illegal monopoly...was made possible...because of their control of the promotion of championship fights together with their control of the principal stadia.... Accordingly, there must be a limitation placed on the promotional activities of these defendants.... The decree will enjoin the Garden for a period of five years from promoting more than two championship boxing contests in each calendar year. Likewise the decree will enjoin for a period of five years Wirtz and Norris from promoting more than two championship contests in each calendar year."

?"Championship boxing was regarded by defendants as a business, engaged in solely for profit. For these profits defendants were bent upon a plan of monopolization to exclude all competition and leave them free to reap financial gains. The extent of defendants' activities in this illegal conspiracy requires drastic affirmative action by this Court. The relief outlined herein is designed to put an end to the conspiracy; to deprive defendants of their present position in the market, which was attained through the conspiracy, and to destroy the monopoly which they created and seek to perpetuate. Professional championship boxing contests will be opened with television and radio broadcasting to legitimate and healthy competition."

The conspiracy that James D. Norris and friends entered into eight years ago to bring all but Class C boxing under their domination has come to an end, by force of law. Soon the last ring announcer will proclaim the last bout under the promotion of the International Boxing Club ( James D. Norris, president). There will be no International Boxing Club and Norris will be president only of Chicago Stadium, a relatively minor enterprise.

Federal Judge Sylvester J. Ryan has so ruled after legal action that began in October 1951 when the Department of Justice put a grand jury to work on the case. Since then it has been fought all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled that professional boxing is subject to the antitrust laws. So far it has cost Norris a reported $500,000 to fight the case. His next step, if he wants to take it, is to the Supreme Court again.

Judge Ryan's decree ordered Norris and his partner, Arthur Wirtz, to turn all their stock in Madison Square Garden over to a trustee, who will vote their shares. The Garden now owns IBC. Norris and Wirtz control the Garden. During the next five years they will be required to sell their stock in the Garden or have it sold for them during the following two years. At the same time Norris and Wirtz must resign as officers ( Norris is president) and directors of the Garden. Jim Norris' Garden party (SI, June 20, '55) is thus at an end.

The Garden, which was a defendant in the suit, is enjoined from promoting more than two title fights a year for the next five years. The same limitation is placed on Norris and Wirtz acting as operators of Chicago Stadium, which is all that is left to them. They may promote only two championships a year. (Since May 1953, the judge pointed out, they have had an interest in all 37 championship fights held in the United States except for one bantamweight contest.)

It is to be presumed, and is the intent of the decree, that the Garden and the Stadium will be competitors, not. only for championship fights but for all others that they wish to promote, since Norris and Wirtz no longer will have anything to do with the Garden. The Stadium is expected to continue promotion of Wednesday night TV fights and the Garden will promote Friday night TV fights, but Norris and Wirtz will have a finger only in the Stadium promotion.

Furthermore, both the Garden and the Stadium must be leased, for a reasonable rental, to independent promoters who want to put on championship fights at either arena.

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