Nothing but trouble has been the fate of the International Boxing Club (James D. Norris, president) for the past year. So now you have seen that picture on your TV screen, and heard that title called from the ring, for the last time. It's Truman K. Gibson Jr., president, from here on out.
Since September, when he was stricken with a heart attack after a shrill bargaining session with Sugar Ray Robinson, there has been good reason to expect that Jim Norris would resign his command, once his affairs were in order. They are now perhaps more disorderly than ever, but last week Norris resigned anyhow.
Pressures no cardiac patient should ask himself to withstand have been building up.
A Supreme Court hearing which may end in the dissolution of the Norris empire is pending.
Norris' No. 1 matchmaker, Billy Brown, and IBC records were subpoenaed for examination by a New York grand jury which is investigating boxing. Norris has stayed out of range of the grand jury's subpoena power. His successor, Gibson, has been concerned mainly with IBC affairs outside New York, hence would have less to tell the grand jury.
The heavyweight situation has disintegrated. The myth that justice required Eddie Machen to fight Champion Floyd Patterson, which would have called for capitulation by Patterson's manager, Cus D'Amato, was exposed by none other than Machen in a lusterless draw with Zora Folley a couple of weeks ago.
Representative F. Edward Hébert of Louisiana has been accusing the IBC on the floor of Congress, crying that a fighter's only hope of success today is to go "the International Boxing Club way—the shakedown way." There was a quick denial from Gibson, along with a deft thrust at Louisiana's segregation law. The lightweight title fight between Joe Brown, Negro champion, and Ralph Dupas, white challenger, was forced out of New Orleans to Houston, Gibson pointed out, though both are New Orleans men.
An anonymous manager and Cus D'Amato, who is never anonymous, were polled on Stillman's Stoop.
"He wanted to get out before the going got rough," said the member of Managers Anonymous. "He's always had a heart disease. Now, all of a sudden his heart. Why didn't he quit when he went to the hospital? That would have been a good time. Things must be percolating, getting too damn hot. So he sets up Truman; the same thing."
"So long as they control television boxing," D'Amato announced, "they control boxing. So long as there's no competition, it's the same IBC. So unless the situation changes to permit competition Patterson won't fight for the IBC."
Gibson, a University of Chicago law school graduate, where he was a participant in football and track, is a suavely poised executive who, with Joe Louis, helped organize the IBC for Norris in 1949. Gibson is a splendid choice for the job. For a time he was income tax consultant to Joe Louis Enterprises and thus is accustomed to dealing with the more insoluble problems of our time.
Gibson may feel, like Winston Churchill, that he did not become Norris' prime minister to preside over the dissolution of an empire, but even Gibson recognizes that this may be his fate. He is a lawyer, an astute man, and he preserves a certain balance in his view of the world.
"We are continuing under our present setup," Gibson said, "until the Supreme Court makes a ruling."
That seems to be the crux of it.