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The Boxing Indictments
The elite of the American Mafia convened in November 1957 at Apalachin, N.Y. State police stumbled on the gathering and revealed thereby the intolerable situation of men who dare to call themselves "the invisible government" assembled in a brazen congress of crime.
One month later Frankie Carbo, the "invisible government" of boxing, called a brassy conference of his own at Miami. It was no coincidence that a member of the Apalachin mob attended. So did some of boxing's top managers. There Carbo laid down the pattern of an elimination tournament which, he ordered, would end with Virgil Akins assuming the welterweight title just vacated by Basilio.
A delegation then called on James D. Norris, president of the International Boxing Club, to implement the plan. Jim went along with it and state athletic commissions blandly approved the proposal for a tournament. The Carbo formula was followed to the ultimate letter. Akins did win the welterweight title.
In the elimination tournament he defeated Isaac Logart at Madison Square Garden on a night when, by coincidence, D.A. Frank Hogan's men were passing out subpoenas in the crowd to start an action that resulted eventually in Carbo's indictment as an undercover manager.
Then, on June 6, 1958, in the tournament finals at St. Louis, Akins briskly knocked out Vince Martinez, also according to plan. That night the St. Louis police intelligence squad picked up Blinky Palermo, a Carbo errand boy, and found him carrying an assortment of sleeping potions, including Seconal. At the time there was no special reason to believe that Blinky was using the drugs for any purpose other than, as he put it, to ease his aching back.
Akins was champion. Carbo was happy.
But six months later a dreadful thing happened. Akins was knocked out by Don Jordan, a fellow whose manager was beyond Carbo's control. Just before the fight Carbo, through Blinky, demanded 50% of Jordan. But Promoter Jackie Leonard and Manager Don Nesseth resisted the demand. They called on Truman K. Gibson Jr., president of National Boxing Enterprises and Jim Norris' good right arm, to protect them.
Gibson, oddly enough, advised them to tell Blinky that they would accede to his demand, the implication being that Gibson thought they could doublecross Carbo with impunity. When a dubious Leonard expressed fear of reprisal, Gibson soothed him.
"That stuff," he said, "went out with high-button shoes [SI, June 15]."