Action in NewYork
The internationalBoxing Guild is a kind of managers' syndicate which set itself up a little overthree years ago with the intent, as Jack (Doc) Kearns put it, to run boxingwithout interference from the likes of state athletic commissions. And, withlocal chapters in principal boxing centers, the Guild very quickly did come todominate the sport, at least in matters outside the purview of Frank Carbo,boxing's underworld boss. It grew so powerful that the International BoxingClub (James D. Norris, president) confessed itself helpless to get fights forthose who, like Vince Martinez, the grounded welterweight (SI, May 30), hadincurred the Guild's disfavor.
Since last May,Julius Helfand, onetime racket buster and tyro boxing commissioner in New York,has been taking a long, hard look at the Guild. On Monday he handed down adecision:
December 19, 1955
After nextJanuary 15 anyone who belongs to the Guild's New York affiliate, the BoxingGuild of New York, will have his license revoked or suspended "upon theground that such membership is an act and conduct detrimental to the interestsof boxing generally and to the public interest, convenience and necessity."The International Guild is outside his jurisdiction, Helfand explained, but acopy of the ruling will go to other state athletic commissions.
"I hope,"he said, "that the states will honor the ruling of this commission."When a manager is suspended in one state it is customary for other states torefuse him a license, too. And it is quite possible that other states will nowtake a good look at their local Guild chapters. A federal grand jury is doingso in Cleveland.
In handing downthe ruling, Helfand reviewed what his investigation had turned up in sevenmonths of arduous questioning of reluctant Guild officials, some of whom flatlyrefused to testify and shrugged off loss of their licenses. The Guild, he said,had "arrogated to itself the conduct and regulation of boxing in NewYork" (just as Jack Kearns had said it would) and, if permitted tocontinue, would "reduce the commission to an empty shell subservient to thewhim, caprice and dictates of the Guild."
Though managersmay not associate with known criminals, they have done so, Helfand said.
"Here thesinister and shadowy figure of the notorious Frankie Carbo emerged," herelated. "Perhaps one of the most elusive personalities in the field ofboxing, Carbo has an extensive criminal record. A number of Guild managersadmitted under oath long association with Carbo, but denied that they knew whathis business was or even where he could be found.... It is significant andworthy of comment that these very managers who admitted intimate friendshipwith Carbo, kept no records of their finances, no bank accounts and didbusiness strictly on a cash basis."
The Guild was"underhanded and dishonest," he charged, in taking $17,000 from RayArcel, a promoter, assertedly for advertising in a conveniently createdmagazine but actually as a payoff for "cooperation" in supplying Arcelwith fighters. The device, Helfand said, was a "sham." No one could befound who knew what happened to the $17,000, paid in cash, after Honest BillDaly, Guild treasurer and manager of Martinez, deposited it in a New Jerseybank.
And in otherways, Helfand said, the Guild showed its colors:
Its officersdisplayed "startling and abysmal ignorance" of its operations, unableeven to say what bank held its funds. Out-of-state managers were compelled to"cut in" a New York Guild manager before they could get fights in NewYork. Boxers had to pay the Guild $100 from each television purse, "anillegal tribute."
And so, Helfandconcluded, the Guild is a "malevolent influence" on boxing, which"depends upon the confidence of the public in its rectitude andhonesty," and acts as a "continuing menace to the integrity of boxingin this state."
That won'tnecessarily be all, he added. The commission is contemplating other rules forthe protection of boxing. They are now under study.
Thus ends PhaseOne, just about a year after SI began its continuing report on boxing's dirtybusiness. There are, of course, other phases to be considered. One of themmight have to do with Jim Norris, whose name sputtered off the agile tongue ofMurray (The Genius) Frank, lawyer for the Guild, during a bitter denunciationof the Helfand ruling.
"Jim Norristestified that he had associated with Carbo, too," Frank pointed out."Is Helfand going to fire Jim Norris?"
The questionraised echoes of Norris' testimony last May before the Helfand inquiry. Hearhim now:
Q. (by Helfand)Do you know Frankie Carbo?
A. (by Norris)Yes.
Q. How long doyou know him?
Q. Have you everdiscussed the promotion of any fights with Mr. Carbo?
A. No, Ihaven't.
Q. What is Mr.Carbo's business, to your knowledge?
A. I couldn'tanswer that.
Q. You don'tknow?
Q. In 20 yearsyou haven't been able to find out what his business is?
A. I am not asocial friend of Mr. Carbo's, Mr. Chairman. I know Mr. Carbo. I talk to him. Ihave a cup of coffee with him occasionally...
Q. Where do yousee him around?
A. You might seehim any place.
Q. Where is anyplace? Where do you usually run into him when you do see him? At a fight?
A. No, I haven'tseen Frankie at a fight in many years. I can't really say that I ever saw himat a fight.
Q. Did you seehim at the Saxton-Gavilan fight in Philadelphia?
A. He was downthere.
Q. You saw himthere?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Have you everdiscussed with Mr. Carbo fights or fighters?
Thus Norris'testimony was a deadly parallel to that of the Guild managers who swore thatthey had known Carbo for years but never discussed with him that subject whichwas uppermost in the minds of both—boxing.
Fire Jim Norris?Attorney Frank raises a good question.
I can safelypredict," said James Higgins, a portly, gray-haired, middle-aged man whohas been a Madison Square Garden usher for a quarter of a century, "thatthere will be no trouble here tonight. This is a refined crowd with a specialcharacter of its own and even if some gang of ruffians was to come through thedoor, which I doubt, they'd soon sense the mood of the crowd and slip into thesame mood themselves. In other words, there will be no commotion or hullabalooor Bronx cheers, as the saying goes."
Mr. Higgins wasspeaking of the crowd of 10,000 that turned out last Friday night to see theprofessional tennis debut of Tony Trabert against Pancho Gonzales, feature of aprogram that also included Rex Hartwig and Pancho Segura. As Mr. Higgins safelypredicted, there was no trouble. The professional tennis crowd is not verydifferent from the amateur tennis crowd. And yet it seems a wonder in MadisonSquare Garden, where a wide range of crowd moods reflects the swiftly changingsporting scene. This night it was tennis, tomorrow basketball, three nightslater professional wrestling.
In the silencethat falls over the 10,000 as the tennis play begins, the pings and pongs asball meets racket are like rifle shots and the telegraph keys high in the pressbox make an ungodly clatter. The vendors move up and down the aisles silentlymouthing, "Cold beer? Cold beer?" or stage whispering, "Peanuts?Popcorn?"—these being the very same hawkers who will be bellowing theirlungs out to make themselves heard above the roar of the wrestling crowd a fewnights hence. A father hisses to a small boy, "Cut it out, Roger!" andRoger hisses back, "He hit me first!" A blonde girl in a mink coathurries along an aisle and remarks too loudly: "I can still smell the horseshow!" There is a burst of applause, not for her, but for Tony Trabert. Awhite-haired woman in Seat 2, Row A, Section 108 is fast asleep.
An official runsout with a yard rule between games to check the height of the net and there isa feeble attempt to give him the bird, but the crowd catches itself in time. Aball lodges itself in the loudspeakers high over the court and the crowd seizesthe chance to explode into laughter. A ball sails into the crowd and aspectator catches it, but the crowd does not cheer as it would at Ebbets Field.Once, inexplicably, there is a sudden, irrelevant, raucous yell from high inthe gallery. The loge turns, looks up and frowns, and the offense is notrepeated.
The swivelinghead, the polite applause, the moderate cheers at set's end, these are thecrowd's trademarks. "But mind you," says James Higgins, who has seenthem come and go for 25 years now, "you'll find no more rabid fans in anysport. Here a few years ago didn't we have a professional tennis card on thenight of a blizzard? And didn't they fill the Garden to the rafters?"
"GREATEST OFTHE GREAT"
No discussion ofbaseball's greatest players over the past 50 years could ever get off theground until someone had said, "I mean—next to Honus Wagner, who was thegreatest?" Then the argument could really get going about Ruth and Cobb andthe others.
As Casey Stengelonce said, "With Wagner, there weren't any 'buts.' He was the greatest.Period."
When Honus orHans (his real name was John Peter Wagner) died in his sleep at 81 last week,the tales were told again of this strong and gentle athlete who did not looklike an athlete at all and yet was, all things considered, the nearest approachto the perfect baseball player that the game has ever seen.
Of all the talestold, one illustrated better than any other the quiet courage of Wagner, whowas, by nature, a kindly, peace-loving fellow. It was in the 1909 World Seriesand Ty Cobb had singled, then yelled to Wagner from first base, "I'm comingdown, Krauthead!" Wagner nodded and smiled and said so softly that Cobbcould not have heard him, "I'll be waiting."
And he waswaiting when Cobb came flying into second base, spikes high. Sidestepping atthe last instant as gracefully as a matador, Wagner tagged the fearsome GeorgiaPeach squarely on the mouth.
Wagner was neverhighly paid by today's standards; his top salary was $10,000 a year."But," he used to say, "there was no income tax then and a glass ofbeer cost a nickel." Nor did he collect many trophies during his peakyears. There was a cup for the 1908 batting championship (it is in the Hall ofFame at Cooperstown along with his locker from Forbes Field in Pittsburgh), andthere were a few other mementos here and there. Most of them were stored awayin the attic of the Wagner home in Carnegie, a suburb of Pittsburgh. There wasjust one plaque that old Honus had hanging in his bedroom. It was presented tohim at Forbes Field last year by Mayor David L. Lawrence of Pittsburgh onbehalf of the Pirates, the club with which Honus had spent 30 years as player,coach and coach emeritus. Honus must have been pleased with what it said:
"To HonusWagner, greatest of the great, as an enduring tribute, from the PittsburghBaseball Club in sincere appreciation of an unmatched career, in which loyalty,honesty, high character and sportsmanship were combined with playing skill, tomake him a champion and a source of endless good to baseball, the Pirates, andthe City of Pittsburgh."
SYSTEM FOR THEHORSES
Take a woman to arace track when she is in tune with the occult—that is to say when she iswearing a new hat or has just beaten Supermarket A out of 4¢ by driving fourmiles to Supermarket B—and watch her pick horses on which to bet your money.She will not really use a form sheet—although women have been known to hold oneand rattle it now and then. Women pick horses by comparing the jockey's colorsto the bathroom wallpaper, by sticking pins into their programs and by closingtheir eyes and aiming their lipstick at the track as the field parades.
They win by thesemethods, particularly if the odds are greater than 5 to 1. There is noexplaining why—they just do.
It has remainedfor Britain's gray-haired, energetic Lady Zia Wernher, however, to pick awinner while sound asleep; one night last spring she dreamed that a 3-year-oldfilly named Meld won both the Thousand Guineas and the Oaks—two of England'sfive classics. Meld did so—by exactly the number of lengths, in each case,which Lady Zia had predicted in describing her midnight vision. Lady Zia betalmost nothing on the races, although she did wager a token ¬£10 on Meld in theSt. Leger—which she knew the horse would win even without dreaming of it. Buther experience was profitable enough—she owns Meld (which also won theCoronation Stakes at Ascot) and this year has amassed ¬£46,345 in purses, analltime record for an Englishwoman, and has replaced Queen Elizabeth asBritain's top owner of the year.
Just what allthis proves is difficult to say but it must prove something perhaps that sincewomen are known to be unpredictable and horses are also known to beunpredictable, it may be possible to take the little woman to the track, feedher greenbacks, allow Unknown Quantity 1 to cancel Unknown Quantity 2 and comeaway with a hatful of money.
Like mostfishermen, Alva A. Simpson used to bear patiently with the usual protests fromhis wife whenever he set out on a little weekend search for trout in themountain streams around Santa Fe. For all his patience, though, the protestsbothered him. Even if the fish weren't biting, his wife's remarks were. Buteventually he solved the problem, and in a rather simple way—with only anoutlay of $30 for a Geiger counter and the announcement that he was out to makethe family fortune. The counter went with him on his fishing trips and so didhis wife's blessing.
Unfortunately theGeiger counter just about ruined his fishing. He began to watch the needlejump, and pretty soon the cutthroat and the rainbow became less attractive thanuranium. In such unlikely places as the Truchas Peaks north of Santa Fe, aroundCordova and Trampas, he began to stake claims, not only for uranium but formica and beryllium as well.
Simpson was NewMexico state welfare director then (about two years ago), but now he ispresident of United Western Minerals, whose officers include people like JockWhitney and Pat Hurley. It is one of the West's biggest uranium outfits.
"Some of myfriends," Simpson says, "have chided me about giving up sport in favorof business. But they're all wrong. It's just that uranium hunting has turnedout to be a more exciting sport than almost any other kind of hunting I'vedone."
That's as may be,and there are certainly those who would disagree with Simpson, among themperhaps his field superintendent, Big John Verna of Pueblo, Colorado. Big Johnwas an elk hunter mostly. He owned a grocery in Pueblo and when the huntingseason arrived he would just close the store for the duration. He has collecteda huge jar full of elks' teeth as mementos of his prowess and some of his headshave record-breaking spreads.
Verna began inthe usual way, by taking a Geiger counter with him on hunting and fishingtrips, and pretty soon he had the uranium fever. It gnawed at his conscienceand he still has a little remorse about it.
"I even beganbuying a bull license, then would forget to shoot my bull," he confesses.The uranium sickness disturbed him a good deal, chipping into his hunting timethat way, but Big John finally solved it with a neat compromise. He sold thestore, joined Simpson's outfit and has a humane understanding with the companythat he can quit uranium hunting for a few days any time other kinds of huntingor fishing look too good to be passed up by a moral man. Now he has found somewonderful, untouched fishing streams in Utah and intends to make the most ofthem before the state starts advertising them and the tourists pour in. Cameacross them while uranium hunting.
Geigercounters—and mine evaluators and ore analyzers—have become standard merchandisein quite a few sporting-goods stores of the Mountain time belt. They can berented for $5 to $20 a day, and it is possible to buy a cheap Geiger counterfor as little as $15 or a scintillation counter (much more sensitive to certaintypes of radiation) for as much as $500 or more. These have become commonequipment in saddle packs and tackle boxes of western outdoorsmen.
While some, suchas Simpson, have abandoned themselves to uranium, others seem to be able totake it or leave it alone. It takes stamina, but a determined, strong-willedman can cure himself of the uranium urge without joining Uraniacs Anonymous.Jerry Rogers is one who has done it. Jerry made a fortune in oil and naturalgas and retired to Farmington, New Mexico, to hunt and fish.
Then he boughthis first Geiger counter. He saw the needle jump and heard the clicks click.Pretty soon he was finding things. He located five major mines in Utah alonebefore it came to him one day that he was working full time at uranium, none atall at fishing. The realization shook him up hard.
A few weeks agoJerry quit uranium cold turkey. Apparently the withdrawal symptoms are not asbad as some might think. His hand today is as steady as a nonscintillatingrock. He bought a nicely wooded and watered estate near Jackson Hole, Wyoming,and pledges serenely that from now on he will do nothing but hunt and fish.
IKE AND THECROWS
PresidentEisenhower, according to dispatches from Gettysburg, has a "cattlecaller" mounted on his golfmobile, and when he sounds it, his prize BlackAngus come running. The President also has five coveys of quail on the farm,released there by a commercial hatchery, and when he wants to stir them up,remind them that they are on their own feeding now, he fires his shotgun intothe air—and the quail get the idea and bestir themselves.
So far so good.But now the President also has what is described as a "crow call." Itis alleged to make a sort of "caw, caw" sound when he blows into it. Hedid blow into it the other day and, although there are large flocks of crowsaround the farm, none showed up. The President is hereby respectfully advisedthat none ever will—unless for the purpose of laughing themselves sick. Crowsare the smartest and most elusive birds alive, and crow calling is a life work.Some hunters in Maryland (E & D, April 4) have made a notable success ofit, but only after the most intensive study of crow language, the building ofelaborate crow blinds and the donning of fantastic camouflages.
Ike Eisenhowerhas invaded and liberated Europe. He has carried most of the 48 states. Ouradvice, Ike, is rest on your laurels—where crows are concerned, that is.
Joseph PaulPietron is a strapping 21-year-old Polish boy who decided six years ago on anultimate aim: escape to Western Europe and freedom.
Pietron reflectedthat top athletes sometimes got a chance to travel. For two years he pursuedskiing, soccer and basketball, only to judge that he would never be quite goodenough. In 1951, he took dispassionate stock of his physique (he was 6 feet 2inches tall then, weighed 265 pounds), and decided his best chance was as aheavyweight boxer. It was a good choice. By 1953 he was top heavyweight inKatowice Province, by this year the No. 2 heavyweight in Poland. At long last,Pietron recently made a team for a tour of West Germany.
At Herford,second stop on the itinerary, he simply failed to show up when his team wasready to leave. Said Joseph Pietron: "I'd rather be an auto mechanic in theWest than the biggest man in Communist Poland."
THE WARMTH OFENTHUSIASM
In Canada'sthriving professional football league the Edmonton Eskimos have again made offwith the Western Conference title and the Grey Cup, swept on by an unflagging,surging tide of home town enthusiasm.
The Eskimos wonthe Western title November 16 when they won their second straight of athree-game playoff with Winnipeg's Blue Bombers 26 to 6. The game was played inEdmonton's 20,000-seat Clarke Stadium before 12,000 unbeatable fans.
"Only 12,000fans showed up for a championship home game?" you cry.
Friend, the gamewas played at night, it was blowing, and the official temperature was zero.
To the top of theslope
The skier was lifted;
They'll find him, they hope,
When the snow is sifted.
CURRENT WEEK & WHAT'S AHEAD
The recruiting rivals of Georgia Tech and Georgia havebeen handed a brand-new argument which some have been quick to use: "Lookson, why do you want to go to those Georgia schools? They are bound bysegregation regulations and won't be playing much in the way of nationalschedules from here on out."
The rivalry between World Champion Juan Manuel Fangioand Britain's Stirling Moss, muffled last year when both drove for Mercedes,can be counted on to provide some first-class racing duels in 1956. On theheels of Moss's decision to drive for Maserati (SI, Dec. 12), Fangio last weeksigned to drive for Ferrari.
Though Nashua's new owners—expected to be named thisweek—may choose to retire him to stud, there is still a chance of anotherNashua-Swaps contest. Both horses have been nominated for the $100,000 SantaAnita Handicap on February 25.
The Los Angeles Rams, a patchwork of the aging and theyoung stitched together by Freshman Coach Sid Gillman, won pro football'sWestern Division on the last day by burying Green Bay 31-17. They meet theCleveland Browns, Eastern Division winners, for the NFL title in Los Angeles onDecember 26.
University of Chicago, once terror of the Big Ten,eased a step nearer return to intercollegiate football, with which it has beenincompatible since Hutchins days. A faculty committee recommended that Chicagobegin with a "free-lance" (nonconference) schedule, perhaps as early asthe 1957 season.
Taking a tip from the successes of such U.S. athleticemissaries as Mai Whitfield and Jesse Owens, Czechoslovakia has dispatched itsfamed distance runner, Emil Zatopek, and his javelin-throwing wife Dana on amuscle mission to India.