Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 19
Date: 98-12-27 08:03:42 EST
The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
By J Michael Kenyon
Issue Number 19
Friday, January 1, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A
IN THIS ISSUE: BILL LYON, ON 'THE AMBASSADOR OF SMILE' -- MUHAMMAD ALI, 56 AND
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GARDEN HEAVY SHOW GETS CALLED OFF
(The Associated Press, Thursday, January 9, 1936)
By Eddie Brietz
NEW YORK -- Bitterly assailing two members of the New York state athletic
commission, Col. John R. Kilpatrick, president of Madison Square Garden,
tonight called off the entire heavyweight show scheduled for tomorrow night.
The commission's refusal to license Hank Bath, California heavy, matched with
Red Burman of Baltimore in one of the feature bouts, was given as the reason.
Bath, managed by Jack Kearns, former manager of Jack Dempsey, was denied a
license with the rather vague announcement that the commission was awaiting
"further information" from California.
In canceling the entire card, Col. Kilpatrick rapped Chairman John J. Phelan
and Commissioner Bill Brown.
"We have been harassed by Phelan and Brown for two years," he said. "They have
thrown every obstacle in our path that they could. This ridiculous and high
handed action is the last straw. This is the fifth Garden show they have
killed in two years."
Kilpatrick listed the others as the Enzo Fiermonte-Maxie Rosenbloom, Bob Olin
and John Henry Lewis, Sammy Fuller and Lou Ambers and Tony Canzoneri and
Frankie Klick bouts.
As a result of the latest brush with the commission, the Garden will sharply
curtail its winter boxing program. Three boxing dates already have been rented
for other attractions and Col. Kirkpatrick said he expects to rent others.
"Does this mean the Garden is done with boxing?"
"By no means," replied Kilpatrick. "We will continue to stage the outstanding
attractions, but until we are assured of close cooperation from the commission
we do not intend to comb the woods for new faces to bring to New York for
Kilpatrick talked with Chairman Phelan again today and asked that the
commission reconsider its action with respect to Bath. Phelan refused,
although he admitted the chairman of the California boxing commission had
telegraphed him both Bath and Kearns are in good standing in California.
Phelan hinted this conflicted with previous information.
It is likely Bath and Burman will put on their show in Chicago soon.
Kilpatrick and Jim Mullens and Nate Lewis, Windy City promoters, would like to
stage the match.
Commissioner Brown expressed surprise tonight that the Garden would let two
preliminary fighters throw off an entire show.
"If Johnson and Kilpatrick would pay more attention to match-making and less
to politics they would be more successful," he said. "We have no trouble with
the other clubs and we refuse to make the Garden a favorite. We won't play
(ED. NOTE -- The number of Madison Square Garden boxing shows had diminished
in the previous two years, from a total of 19 in 1933, to 13 and 14 the next
two calendar years. However, after this flare-up, nine more shows were held in
the winter and spring of 1936 and another 30 in 1936-37 until Mike Jacobs took
over the boxing promotions at MSG starting with the Henry Armstrong-Petey
Sarron world featherweight championship fight on Oct. 29, 1937.)
IBC SUED BY GOVERNMENT
(The Associated Press, Monday, March 17, 1952)
By Will Grimsley
NEW YORK -- The government filed a civil anti-trust suit today against the
International Boxing Club of New York and Illinois, charging the group with
conspiring to monopolize championship fights in both states.
Charges were brought againt James D. Norris of New York and Arthur M. Wirtz of
Chicago, owners of the IBC, and the Madison Square Garden Corp. of New York.
Both Norris and Wirtz contended their business was "strictly legal."
"As far as we are concerned we've acted on the advice of counsel who said all
our actions were perfectly legal," said Norris, in Miami Beach, Fla., where he
is vacationing. "If the government finds otherwise, we'll just have to
In Chicago, Wirtz said: "It is my understanding that personal service
contracts are exempt from the Anti-Trust Law.
"From a purely personal angle, I can't understand why we should be sued for
putting our bouts on television, while the National Football League was sued
for not putting their games on television."
A government anti-trust suit is pending against the National Football League
for restricting television of its games.
The IBC is accused of controlling the sale of radio, television and motion
picture rights to the contests and of obtaining exclusive use of principal
arenas in New York, Chicago and other large cities.
The complaint further says the defeands obtained contracts from champions and
leading contenders in all major weight divisions requiring the fighters to box
exclusively for the IBC.
The IBC, which took over its dominant position in bigtime boxing three years
ago, has contracts with every world champion from featherweight to heavyweight
guaranteeing the organization two title fights a year from each.
The IBC says these champions are permitted to sell their wares elsewhere.
Ezzard Charles, former heavyweight champion, and Sugar Ray Robinson,
middleweight king, have made numerous appearances for other promotersd
although under contract to the IBC.
The action was announced by Melville C. Williams, chief of the Department of
Justice's anti-trust division. It followed a recommendation by a federal grand
jury which has been probing the sport since last October.
In Washington, Attorney General J. Howard McGrath said the suit was aimed to
remove monopolistic practices and he added that the public, contestants,
promoters, radio and TV broadcasters are "entitled to a free, competitive
market in a business which commands such wide public interest."
Besides New York's Madison Square Garden, the IBC controls the sport in
Chicago Stadium, Detroit's Olympia and St. Louis Arena.
The group has television and broadcasting contracts totaling more than a
ILLINOIS APPROVES GRAZIANO GO
(The Associated Press, Monday, Mar. 17, 1952)
CHICAGO -- The Illinos State Athletic Commission today announced an April 16
middleweight title bout between champion Ray Robinson and Rocky Graziano after
a turbulent session in which Graziano's alleged tie-up with a convicted
murderer was debated.
Approval of the bout came after an executive session which followed a storm
Besides approving the bout, the commission also approved applications for a
boxer's license by Graziano and by his manager, Irving Cohen.
The commission stressed that although the bout was approved, it would continue
to investigate allegations brought out at the hearing.
The three-member commission went into an executive meeting after hearing
Graziano testify that last January he broke off with an "undercover" manager,
Eddie Coco of Brooklyn, who is appealing a murder conviction in Florida.
Graziano, Cohen, Robinson and Robinson's manager, George Gainford, attended
the session. It developed into a heated battle of words when a Chicago
television-radio sports announcer contended the match should not be approved
because of Graziano's relations with Coco.
The TV-radio announcer, Tom Duggan, appeared to do a "public service," he
said, by lambasting Graziano's connection with Coco.
Several times, Truman Gibson, secretary of the International Boxing Club which
has promoted the match, had bitter exchanges with Duggan and Commission member
Lou Radzienda, who sharply questioned Graziano.
Graziano admitted he had an agreement with Coco ever since he started boxing
professionally in 1943 and paid him 11 per cent of his purses until they broke
off by mutual agreement last January.
Graziano said he convinced Coco their association was harming his career and
that he would retire if Coco didn't break off. This they agreed to do,
Graziano said, last January.
Coco, convicted of second-degree murder in the gun slaying of a Negro parking
lot attendant early last year, currently is free on $25,000 bond awaiting
appeal to a higher court.
WALCOTT DECISIONS CHARLES TO KEEP TITLE
(The Associated Press, Thursday, June 5, 1952)
By Jack Hand
PHILADELPHIA -- Jersey Joe Walcott, 38-year-old Cinderella man of the ring,
clung to his world heavyweight boxing title tonight by winning a unanimous
decision over ex-champ Ezzard Charles.
proving once more that old champs never come back, the incredible old father
of six kids from Camden, N.J., shook off bombing shots by Charles to grab the
votes of all three officials in a slow fight at Municipal Stadium.
Referee Zach Clayton, who repeatedly warned Charles for low blows in the
third, fifth and 13th rounds, voted Walcott his biggest margin, 9-6. Judge
Buck McTiernan, who refereed the Pittsburgh match last July when Walcott
knocked out Charles to win the title on the fifth try, had it for Walcott,
8-7. Judge Pete Tomasco scored it for Walcott, 7-6-2.
The Associated Press card had Charles a 7-6-2 winner.
There was considerable disagreement at ringside among the working press at the
This was a dull fight in contrast to the thriller last July 18 when underdog
Walcott won boxing's richest prize with a clean cut knockout. There were no
knockdowns in the closely fought contest although both men were wobbled with
Walcott at 196 1/2 had five pounds on Charles, who at 191 1/2 was the heaviest
of his career.
Bidding to become the first ex-heavy champ ever to regain his title where such
greats as Jim Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons, Jim Jeffries, Jack Dempsey, Max
Schmeling and Joe Louis failed, Charles failed like all the rest.
Ezzard had cuts over both eyes and blood streamed from Jersey Joe's battered
nose at the end as both boys appeared dead tired.
Once again an underdog at odds around 11 to 5, the slope-shouldered old gent
from Jersey taught Charles new respect for his zinging left hook.
Still Charles came steaming back past the midway point, jarring Jersey Joe
with long right hand leads to the jaw.
Time after time, Walcott back off in his now familiar retreat trying to lure
Ez into the trap for the right hand that knocked Joe Louis down three times --
but Charles wouldn't take the bait.
Ezzard fought cautiously, apparently biding his time for a fast finish, but
never was able to nail old Joe for the crusher.
"I hope that proves to the world that I am the rightful heavyweight champion,"
Walcott said as he sat on a table in his dressing room following the fight.
"People have been asking if I was lucky in Pittsburgh last summer when I
knocked out Charles to win the title. Some didn't even ask. They just said
'the old man landed a lucky punch.' I hope tonight settled the matter," said
The amazing, seemingly ageless champ said he was glad the fight went the
"I wanted to win a decision. I planned to win a decision. That's what I did.
Naturally I wanted a knockout, if I could get one, but I knew that a 15-round
decision would be more satisfying. It would prove more conclusively that I am
AN AMBASSADOR OF SMILE GOES ON
(Philadelphia Inquirer, September 17, 1998)
By Bill Lyon
The face is bloated, puffy. Sometimes it is wreathed in a serene smile and
sometimes it is flat, without expression.
The hands once made fists that went rat-a-tat-tat on other men's faces,
raising welts, making incisions. Now those hands tremble without relief,
prisoners of perpetual palsy.
The feet once danced on the ceiling. Now they shuffle along in the slow,
lumbering, methodical gait of a huge tortoise.
But when he enters a room, or when he fills our television screens, as he did
just the other day, traffic stops, faces light up with recognition.
People take on a kind of glow, as though warmed by a sun. And, invariably,
they begin to smile.
You watch them, strangers, and they grin and nod at each other and grin some
It's him, isn't it? Yes. Yes, it is. It's him, all right. It's Ali.
Of all our athletes, none have enjoyed such a glorious retirement, such a
smashing curtain call, as Muhammad Ali. His is a continuing valedictory.
Periodically he will emerge in public, to light an Olympic flame, or to
receive yet another award, and the reaction is always the same.
Whether it is in remembrance of past glories or whether it is in melancholy
acknowledgment of a warrior who fought too hard for too long, the reaction he
always causes is always a smile. How many of us can say that? He once boasted
that his was the most recognizable face on the planet. Know what? It may well
His latest return was Tuesday, in New York, to receive from the United Nations
a newly created honor: Messenger of Peace.
Yet one more paradox.
A man who made his money and his fame from punching other men, from inflicting
calculated, sustained pain, now wears in his lapel a pin in the shape of a
He says in a soft, hoarse voice: "I wish people would love each other the way
they love me. It would be a better world."
His appearance in New York seemed appropriate at this particular moment in
sporting time. For we enjoy a rare and treasured cease-fire in the usual
ugliness. We are positively awash in sportsmanship and graciousness. All this
good will has been brought on by two men who couldn't be more different but
who find themselves tied together, and they are having a spirited contest to
see who can hammer the most baseballs to the moon.
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire have created a truce, have succeeded in reviving
the true nature of competition, have made us smile, have opened the door and
invited everyone in. All are welcome. And that is precisely what Ali seems to
represent. He opens his arms to embrace anyone who wants to venture within
range. And what a triumph that is, a man trying to include all, the same man
who once upon a time in his life found himself excluded from some places.
It is 34 years since he first won the heavyweight championship of the world.
In the interim, he lost it, won it back, lost it, won it back, lost it. He
became a symbol as a rebel and also as a draft dodger. He changed religions.
Once he spoke ominously of "the blue-eyed white devil." Now he talks of
tolerance and understanding. He passes no judgment.
He says that he no longer makes a fist, except in jest, because it is not
possible to shake hands when you have made a fist. Amazing, how he has
transformed himself. Long ago, he transcended boxing.
You wonder: If Ali walked between two feuding armies, would they put down
Once, he was physically flawless.
"Ain't I pretty?" he would ask, stroking his unmarked face. And up on his
toes, circling the roped-off square, fists flicking, head jerking just out of
bullet's range, he was, indeed, a marvel to behold. No athlete before, or
since, could think on his feet so adroitly, could improvise so wonderfully in
the midst of chaos. Now, another paradox: Physically, he is wounded. And it
is a mortal wound. That body, once so sleek, now fed by the pastries that
always have been his weakness, expands slowly and the definition of the
muscles gives way to soft folds of flesh.
And yet, as the Parkinson syndrome slowly eats away at him, his appeal has
never been more magnetic, more universal. Apparently he is fated to live out
his days dying an inch at a time before our very eyes, but he makes us weep
with his valor and his grace. He pays a dear, dear price for taking all those
punches, but he is at peace because he has made his peace. He accepts it as
the will of Allah.
And now he is celebrated at every turn. We need him to show up, from time to
time, just as we need the seasons to change. Mostly, we need him to reappear
because it should never be too long between smiles.
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