Subj: The BAWLI Papers No. 21
Date: 98-12-27 11:39:47 EST
The BAWLI Papers
(Boxing As We Liked It)
By J Michael Kenyon
Issue Number 21
Sunday, January 3, 1999
New York City, New York, US of A
IN THIS ISSUE: MORE EXCERPTS FROM REMNICK;
SUPREME COURT AFFIRMS IBC VERSUS U.S. SUIT
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Readers are welcome to submit interesting and otherwise noteworthy articles
concerning professional boxing's long and storied past. The emphasis,
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KING OF THE WORLD
(Excerpted from "Muhammad Ali and the Rise of an American Hero," by David
Remnick. Random House, 1998)
Chapter One -- UNDERGROUND MAN, Sept 25, 1962
(continued from The BAWLI Papers No. 20)
On December 4, 1961, President John Kennedy watched a televised boxing
doubleheader held in different cities: Patterson's fourth-round knockout of
Tom McNeely in Toronto and Liston's first-round destruction in Philadelphia of
the fighter he called Albert "Quick Fall" Westphal. Like any other sports fan
in the country (and even the non-boxing fan took notice of heavyweight title
fights), Kennedy had been saying that the real fight would be between
Patterson and Liston. After the second Johansson fight, Kennedy had even
invited the champion to the White House, partly to congratulate him on being
the first man ever to regain the heavyweight title, but also to encourage him.
It was a seemingly routine visit--sports stars had been visiting presidents
for decades; both won some easy and harmless publicity--but the session made
Patterson uneasy. The president asked the champion whom he would be fighting
next. Cassius Clay, the brash Olympic champion, was tearing his way to the top
of the division, but no one was demanding that fight yet. Clay was not yet
twenty. Patterson knew what the president meant.
"Liston," he said. "I'm gonna fight Liston."
Instead of merely wishing Patterson well, Kennedy said, "Well, you've got to
beat this guy."
Liston, for his part, was convinced that the White House meeting was the
reason Patterson had finally agreed to a match. "Frankly, I don't think
Patterson would have fought me if he hadn't promised the president," he said.
"I believe Floyd found himself in a position where he couldn't go back on his
word. After all, you don't tell the President of the United States that you
are going to do something and then fail to do it."
Floyd admitted to his own confusion in the Oval Office. "I felt all alone in
there, completely terrified," he said. "You've got to remember how young I
was, what my background was, and now I was getting advice in the Oval Office.
What was I supposed to do? Disagree? I had to take the challenge. I was always
afraid of letting people down and now I was in a position where I had to worry
about letting down the president."
Patterson was now fighting for the Good, and Sonny, whether he liked it or
not, was the Bad. Liston understood his role well. "A boxing match is like a
cowboy movie," he said. "There's got to be good guys and there's got to be bad
guys. That's what people pay for--to see the bad guys get beat. So I'm the bad
guy. But I change things. I don't get beat."
It was far from automatic that Liston would even be allowed to fight
Patterson. Madison Square Garden, still the most prestigious site in America
for boxing, was out of the question. The New York authorities were (rightly)
convinced that Liston had never cut his ties to the Mafia and refused him a
license. Where could they go? Dr. Charles Larson, president of the United
States National Boxing Association, said he would do all he could to prevent
the match. "In my opinion Patterson is a fine representative of his race, and
I believe the heavyweight champion of the world should be the kind of man our
children could look up to as they have always done, as hero-worshipers," he
said. "If Liston should become champion before he had rehabilitated himself,
it might well be a catastrophe." The same camp said that a Liston victory
would be worse for boxing than the horrible night six months before when Emile
Griffith killed Benny "Kid" Paret in the ring. It took Sir David Harrington
Angus Douglas, the twelfth Marquess of Queensberry, a descendant of the rule
maker of boxing, to lift the whiff of moralism from the match. "I would have
rather thought it wasn't all that relevant whether or not Liston was a good
character. If he's not in prison at the moment, he must currently be legally
straight. If he's a good boxer, he must be entitled to a fight with
Patterson could endure or ignore the politics of boxing and its various
commissions, but not the concerns of men like Ralph Bunche and Martin Luther
King. The civil rights movement was gathering momentum in the South and was
setting off a profound backlash, especially in the Deep South, and the leaders
of the movement worried that, in a moment, they would lose an upstanding
champion, a worthy standard-bearer, in Patterson and get Sonny Liston, a
convicted felon, instead. The civil rights movement had problems enough--the
fight came in the midst of James Meredith's attempt to integrate the
University of Mississippi and the battle between the Supreme Court and
Governor Ross Barnett, who vowed that the state "will not drink from the cup
of genocide." Martin Luther King's rebellion represented the most powerful
social upheaval since the war. To tens of millions of Americans, integration
was unthinkable and every breakthrough of the civil rights movement, every
court case, every march and sit-in, seemed an offense against nature. Fair or
not, the last thing the movement's leaders needed was to have the most visible
black man in America be a graduate of the Missouri penal system, a thug who'd
been jailed for armed robbery. Percy Sutton, head of the Manhattan chapter of
the NAACP, said, "Hell, let's stop kidding. I'm for Patterson because he
represents us better than Liston ever could." They saw Patterson as one of
theirs, a black man who had fought his way up (literally, in his case); he was
a race man, but one whom enlightened white men could accept, could talk to.
When Patterson's wife was refused an appointment by a masseuse near their
house on Long Island, he sued under the local antidiscrimination code. When
Patterson later bought a house in northern Yonkers, near Scarsdale, his white
neighbors made his life miserable; a dentist next door immediately threw up a
six-foot fence. When Patterson built his own fence, the dentist, a Dr.
Morelli, shouted to the workmen, "Touch on my property and you had better have
a court order for it." Eventually, Patterson gave up the fight and moved out.
"I am just part of the social history of our time and our country, and I can't
lag behind it--or run too far ahead of it," he said later in his
autobiography. "If you keep walking around with the bitterness in you, sooner
or later it's got to turn into a pain that makes you want to strike out at the
injustice. I would never want to do that. If I can't go some place legally, I
don't want to go there at all. If I can't fight back legally, I don't want to
do it viciously. At the same time, you can't overlook it and pretend it
Fame was no protection against humiliation. In the spring of 1957, after
Patterson had become champion, he and two of his sparring partners were
refused seating at one restaurant after another on a Saturday afternoon in
Kansas City. They bought cheese and crackers instead and went back to their
hotel. They heard that Jersey Joe Walcott was in town to referee a
professional wrestling match and they called on him in his room. When they
arrived they noticed that Walcott was also eating his lunch in his room; all
he'd been able to come up with was a bag of cookies and a quart bottle of
milk. Walcott offered Patterson and his friends some cookies.
"We've just had a bite," Patterson said, "just the way you're having it."
"Ain't it something?" Walcott said. "The former world's heavyweight champion
and the present champ, but in this town it's all the same. The oldest champ
and the youngest, but both have to eat in their rooms. This is a nice town.
Not too bad if you walk with your eyes just looking ahead and don't listen to
what folks are saying. That's why I stay in the room here. Less chance of
Liston and Patterson trained for several months--Liston in Philadelphia,
Patterson at his camp in upstate New York. In the last weeks before the fight,
they both set up camp in the Chicago area. The facilities they chose might
have been predicted. Patterson's camp resembled a monastic retreat, a series
of cabins in the town of Elgin called Marycrest Farm. Marycrest was a Catholic
Worker settlement house, not much different from Wiltwyck. One building that
had been converted into a press headquarters was decorated with religious
mosaics and a set of crucifixes. The two doors to the room where the press
agents worked were marked by Latin signs: Veritas over one, Caritas over the
other. In ordinary times, Veritas and Caritas marked barns for cows. Patterson
trained in a tent with a sign outside reading So we being many are one body in
Christ. His press conferences took place in a refectory under a mural of
saints. Patterson felt at home here. He had converted to the Roman Catholic
Church and now he was being advertised as the fight game's St. Francis.
The promoters offered the Liston entourage a camp next to the prison in
Joliet. They figured that the barbed wire and watchtowers would be the perfect
backdrop for feature stories focusing on Liston's past. Liston thought
otherwise. Instead, he trained at an abandoned racetrack in East Aurora, with
wire gates and a uniformed cop stationed outside. The infield of the track was
a bleak expanse of withered grass. A vicious wind whipped off the
disintegrating grandstands. Liston pounded the heavy bag and sparred in a
makeshift gym that had once been the parimutuel shed. It was as if Johnny
Appleseed were training in one place and the Angel of Death in the other, one
of the writers remarked.
The press shuttled between the two and drew out this contrast of Good versus
Evil, of the Good Negro versus the Threatening Negro. This was 1962, and
newspapermen were still dominant, above all white columnists from New York:
Milton Gross of the Post, Jimmy Cannon of the Post (and then the World-
Telegram), Red Smith of the Herald Tribune, Dick Young of the News, Arthur
Daley of the Times. Liston trusted none of them. He could not read a road
sign, much less a newspaper, but his wife, Geraldine, read the columns to him,
and it was not long before he knew that he had few fans among the writers. Nor
did Sonny have any great supporters among the white literati who had come from
the various magazines: Budd Schulberg for Playboy, A. J. Liebling for The New
Yorker, Ben Hecht for a Nyack paper, and Norman Mailer for Esquire.
(to be continued in The BAWLI Papers No. 22)
(ED. NOTE -- The foregoing may be found on the Web at the following URL and
the book may be purchased by by flipping to the Barnes and Noble URL listed
INTERNATIONAL BOXING CLUB OF NEW YORK, INC. V. UNITED STATES 358 U.S. 242
NO. 18. ARGUED NOVEMBER 13, 1958 - DECIDED JANUARY 12, 1959 - 150 F. SUPP.
1. THE GOVERNMENT'S CIVIL COMPLAINT CHARGING APPEALLANTS WITH A
COMBINATION AND CONSPIRACY IN UNREASONABLE RESTRAINT OF TRADE AND
COMMERCE AMONG THE STATES IN THE PROMOTION, BROADCASTING AND TELEVISING
OF PROFESSIONAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING CONTESTS, AS WELL AS A
CONSPIRACY TO MONOPOLIZE AND MONOPOLIZATION OF THE SAME, IN VIOLATION
OF SECS. 1 AND 2 OF THE SHERMAN ACT, WAS SUSTAINED BY THIS COURT AS STATING A
CAUSE OF ACTION, AND THE CASE WAS REMANDED FOR TRIAL ON THE MERITS. 348 U.S.
236. AFTER A TRIAL, THE DISTRICT COURT, IN AN OPINION INCORPORATING DETAILED
FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW BASED ON THE PRINCIPLES LAID DOWN BY
THIS COURT, FOUND THAT THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT HAD BEEN SUSTAINED,
AND ADJUDGED THAT
APPELLANTS HAD VIOLATED SECS. 1 AND 2 OF THE SHERMAN ACT. HELD: THE DISTRICT
COURT'S FINDINGS ARE NOT CLEARLY ERRONEOUS, AND ITS JUDGMENT ON THE MERITS IS
AFFIRMED. PP. 244-252.
(A) THE DISTRICT COURT'S FINDING THAT THE RELEVANT MARKET WAS A PROMOTION OF
CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING CONTESTS, IN CONTRAST TO ALL PROFESSIONAL BOXING CONTESTS,
WAS NOT CLEARLY ERRONEOUS AND IT IS SUSTAINED. PP. 249-252.
2. AFTER FURTHER HEARINGS ON THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE RELIEF NECESSARY TO
PROTECT THE PUBLIC INTEREST, THE DISTRICT COURT ENTERED A FINAL JUDGMENT
DISSOLVING THE TWO INTERNATIONAL BOXING CLUBS, DIRECTING THE INDIVIDUAL
APPEALLANTS TO DIVEST THEMSELVES OF THEIR STOCK IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN AND
GRANTING INJUNCTIVE RELIEF DESIGNED TO OPEN UP THE MARKET IN THE BUSINESS OF
PROMOTING PROFESSIONAL WORLD
CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING MATCHES. HELD: THE RELIEF GRANTED WAS NOT BEYOND THE
ALLOWABLE DISCRETION OF THE DISTRICT COURT AND ITS JUDGMENT IS AFFIRMED. PP.
(A) AT THE TIME OF THE FINAL DECREE, THE JOE LOUIS AGREEMENTS HAD LAPSED; THE
EXCLUSIVE-CONTRACT PRACTICE HAD BEEN ABANDONED AT LEAST TEMPORARILY; THE
LEASES ON YANKEE STADIUM, THE POLO GROUNDS AND ST. NICHOLAS ARENA IN NEW YORK
HAD BEEN GIVEN UP; AND THE APPELLANTS HAD NO CONTROL OVER THE NEW HEAVYWEIGHT
CHAMPION; BUT THIS COURT AGREES WITH THE DISTRICT COURT THAT THE ADDITIONAL
EVIDENCE TAKEN BY IT SHOWED THAT APPELLANTS STILL POSSESSED ALL OF THE POWER
OF MONOPOLY AND RESTRAINT.
(B) EVEN IF THE INDIVIDUAL APPEALLANTS' STOCK IN MADISON SQUARE GARDEN WAS
LAWFULLY ACQUIRED AND WAS NOT THE FRUIT OF THE CONSPIRACY, IT HAD BEEN
UTILIZED TO EFFECT THE PURPOSE OF THE CONSPIRACY AND COULD BE SO USED AGAIN,
AND THE RECORD SUPPORTS THE DISTRICT COURT'S
CONCLUSION THAT THEY SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO DIVEST THEMSELVES OF THIS STOCK IN
ORDER TO BREAK UP THE UNLAWFUL COMBINATION AND RESTORE COMPETITION IN
CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING CONTESTS - WITHOUT BEING GRANTED THE ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
REQUESTED BY THEM. PP. 255-259.
(C) SINCE THE TWO INTERNATIONAL BOXING CLUBS WERE FORMED PURSUANT TO THE
CONSPIRACY AND WERE THE MEANS USED TO EFFECTUATE IT, THE REQUIREMENT THAT THEY
BE DISSOLVED WAS JUSTIFIED. PP. 259-261.
(D) THE DISTRICT COURT HAVING FOUND THAT ONE OF THE MEANS USED IN
EFFECTUATING THE CONSPIRACY WAS THE OWNERSHIP AND CONTROL OF ARENAS AND
STADIA, THE REQUIREMENT OF THE DECREE THAT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN AND THE
CHICAGO STADIUM BE RENTED TO ANY QUALIFIED PROMOTER AT A REASONABLE RENTAL,
SUBJECT TO SPECIFIED CONDITIONS, WAS JUSTIFIED. PP. 261-262.
(E) PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS JUSTIFY THE PROHIBITION AGAINST EXCLUSIVE
CONTRACTS WITH CONTESTANTS, EVEN THOUGH THEY APPLY NOT ONLY TO CHAMPIONSHIP
BOUTS BUT TO ALL PROFESSIONAL BOXING CONTESTS, THUS GOING BEYOND THE "RELEVANT
MARKET" CONSIDERED FOR THE PURPOSES OF DETERMINING THE SHERMAN ACT VIOLATIONS.
INTERNATIONAL BOXING CLUB OF NEW YORK, INC., ET AL. V. UNITED STATES.
APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW
MR. JUSTICE CLARK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.
THIS CIVIL SHERMAN ACT (FN1) CASE WAS HERE FOUR YEARS AGO ON DIRECT APPEAL
FROM A DISMISSAL BY THE DISTRICT COURT, WHICH HAD HELD THAT THE ACT DID NOT
APPLY TO THE BUSINESS OF PROFESSIONAL BOXING. WE REVERSED, FINDING THAT "THE
COMPLAINT STATES A CAUSE OF ACTION UNDER THE ACT AND THAT THE GOVERNMENT IS
ENTITLED TO AN OPPORTUNITY TO PROVE ITS ALLEGATIONS," AND REMANDED THE CASE
FOR TRIAL ON THE MERITS. UNITED STATES V. INTERNATIONAL BOXING CLUB, 348 U.S.
236 (1955). THE COMPLAINT CHARGED THE APPELLANTS WITH A COMBINATION AND
CONSPIRACY IN UNREASONABLE RESTRAINT OF TRADE AND COMMERCE AMONG THE STATES IN
PROMOTION, BROADCASTING, AND TELEVISING OF PROFESSIONAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
BOXING CONTESTS, AS WELL AS A CONSPIRACY TO MONOPOLIZE AND MONOPOLIZATION OF
THE SAME. AFTER A TRIAL, THE DISTRICT COURT, IN AN OPINION INCORPORATING
DETAILED FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW BASED ON THE PRINCIPLES LAID
DOWN IN OUR EARLIER OPINION, FOUND THAT THE ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT HAD
BEEN SUSTAINED. 150 F. SUPP.
397. AFTER FURTHER HEARINGS ON THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE RELIEF
NECESSARY TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC INTEREST, THE COURT ENTERED ITS FINAL JUDGMENT
DISSOLVING TWO OF THE CORPORATE APPELLANTS, DIRECTING DIVESTITURE OF CERTAIN
STOCK OWNED BY THE INDIVIDUAL APPELLANTS AND GRANTING INJUNCTIVE RELIEF
DESIGNED TO OPEN UP THE MARKET IN THE BUSINESS OF PROMOTING PROFESSIONAL WORLD
CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING MATCHES.
THE APPELLANTS, WHILE NOT ATTACKING ANY SPECIFIC FINDING AS CLEARLY ERRONEOUS,
CLAIM THAT THE PROOF DID NOT SHOW THAT THEY VIOLATED EITHER STRONGEST BLOWS AT
THE DISTRICT COURT'S DEFINITION OF THE RELEVANT MARKET. OUT OF THE ENTIRE
FIELD OF PROFESSIONAL BOXING, THE DISTRICT COURT CARVED A MARKET IN
CHAMPIONSHIP CONTESTS ALONE, HOLDING IT TO BE THE RELEVANT MARKET AT WHICH THE
CONSPIRACY WAS AIMED. IN THE ALTERNATIVE, APPELLANTS INSIST THAT THE RELIEF
GRANTED THE GOVERNMENT WAS "UNNECESSARY PUNITIVE," EVEN IF LIABILITY IS
ASSUMED. ON A DIRECT APPEAL TO THIS COURT WE NOTED PROBABLE JURISDICTION, 356
U.S. 910 (1958). WE HAVE CONCLUDED THAT THE FINDINGS OF THE DISTRICT COURT
ARE NOT CLEARLY ERRONEOUS AND THAT IN VIEW OF OUR FORMER HOLDING ON THE MERITS
WAS PROPERLY ENTERED. AS TO THE RELIEF GRANTED WE FIND THAT THE COURT DID NOT
EXCEED THE LIMITS OF ALLOWABLE DISCRETION IN FRAMING A DECREE "THAT WILL, SO
FAR AS PRACTICABLE, CURE THE ILL EFFECTS OF THE ILLEGAL CONDUCT, AND ASSURE
THE PUBLIC FREEDOM FROM ITS CONTINUANCE." UNITED STATES V. UNITED STATES
GYPSUM CO., 340 U.S. 76, 88 (1950).
OUR PREVIOUS DECISION HEREIN HAVING DECIDED THAT THE PROMOTION OF PROFESSIONAL
CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING CONTESTS ON AN INTERSTATE BASIS
CONSTITUTED TRADE AND COMMERCE AMONG THE STATES, WITHIN THE MEANING OF
THE SHERMAN ACT, THERE IS NO CONTEST HERE EITHER ON THE FINDINGS OR THE LAW ON
THAT POINT. SINCE ON THAT APPEAL WE DISCUSSED IN SOME DETAIL THE ALLEGATIONS
OF THE COMPLAINT, WHICH THE TRIAL COURT HAS NOW FOUND AMPLY PROVEN BY THE
EVIDENCE, WE SHALL ONLY SUMMARIZE THE FINDINGS HERE.
(to be continued in The BAWLI Papers No. 23)
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