If CommissionerFrank Wiener were an ostrich instead of an eel, he would be able to save faceby burying his head in quicksand after what happened in Philadelphia'sConvention Hall Wednesday night to disgrace once more his home city and hisadministration of boxing in it.
ThatPhiladelphia, in recent years a dumping ground for fistic garbage, wasadvertised wherever television carried the Gavilan-Saxtonwelterweight-championship stinker as a city in which it is possible for ahome-town hoodlum to job a world's champion out of his title, for the benefitof one of his own fighters, is the fault of no one but Wiener, Pennsylvania'sundistinguished administrator of boxing.
Without Wiener'sapproval, Blinky Palermo, a hoodlum with a malodorous record in and out of theprize ring, could not hold a manager's license. That Palermo was able to stealthe title on this occasion was most appropriate because he also stole JohnnySaxton, the fighter for whom he perpetrated this outrage. Bill Miller, a decentold-time Negro trainer, developed Saxton as an amateur and, when he wasn'tmaking much progress with him as a pro, tied up with Palermo because he wasgiven to understand that without a mob connection, he wouldn't get anywhere.When the two-year contract Miller entered into with The Blink expired, poor oldBill, who taught Saxton everything he knows (the only rap against Miller), waskicked out of the partnership.
As Blinky andSaxton awaited the announcement of the decision in their corner Wednesdaynight, after a 15th round in which Gavilan staggered Saxton and swarmed allover him, a beatific smile spread over the kindly hoodlum's face, reminiscentof that displayed by the fabled pussycat after devouring the canary. It was asif Blink were saying: "Well, you're on your feet so everything's okay."The story, buzzed around in advance, was that Gavilan would have to knock outhis man to retain his title. When the unanimous verdict for Saxton wasannounced, Blinky acted as if it were stale news. His expression of completeconfidence, before the announcement came, was revealing.
As to which wasworse, the decision or the fight itself, it would take some pretty finehairsplitting to decide. Blinky the Just, Frankie's pin-up boy, thoughteverything was just dandy. What Frankie Carbo, Gavilan's Goombar with whom TheBlink dined at Dempsey's Monday night, thought of it no one was able to findout, as he copped a "5th amundment" plea. What the public thought ofit, as represented by the opinion of televiewers, seems to be that for the nextsix months our Republic will stink like a pulp-mill town from coast tocoast.
A possibleexplanation of the putrid affair is that Signor Carbo, who had a piece ofGavilan without the fighter's approval, saw that the Keed not only was gettingbalky but also was slipping rapidly and, to keep control of the title, arrangedwith Blinky to pass it along to Saxton. Gavilan apparently was suspicious fromthe start, as he pulled out of the match twice.
Jack Kearns toldsome friends before the fight to send in all they had on Saxton who, he said,couldn't lose. In New York, many fans who tried to put money on Saxton weretold that they could bet only on Gavilan. After the fight (?), Palermo saidthere would be no return match for Gavilan. And before and after it, GoombarCarbo lavishly entertained fight mobsters from all over America at a hotelsuite. He had good reason to celebrate.
Mug number one in boxing scandal is Frank (Blinky)Palermo (left), Saxton's manager. Palermo, whose arrests range from assault andbattery to running a disorderly club, is reputed numbers-racket operator inPhiladelphia. Despite record, Blinky runs one of the most active stables offighters in U.S. He has handled Dan Bucceroni, Coley Wallace, formerlightweight champion Ike Williams and onetime heavyweight contender ClarenceHenry, indicted in New York last June on charge of offering $15,000 bribe to"fix" a Garden bout. In 1952 Palermo told Illinois Boxing Commission,"I've never been arrested for the last 17 years and don't know why a mancan't live it down." Blinky erred. In 1950, he was arrested in Philadelphiaon charges of Reckless Use of Firearms and Assault with Intent to Kill.
Mug number two in Philadelphia fiasco is Frankie Carbo(right), who really is Mug Number One in boxing. Carbo has almost as manyaliases as he has fighters. He started career in earnest in 1924 when he shotand killed a Bronx butcher in a row over a stolen cab. Carbo was sentenced to7½ to 15 years in prison, but was paroled in less than one year. This was theonly rap he failed to beat. The nearest Carbo has come to a conviction sincewas in 1942 when he went on trial for the murder of Harry Greenberg. Although awitness twice identified Carbo, the trial ended in a hung jury. Despite suchmenial employment for Murder, Inc., Carbo is conceded by other mobsters to bethe overlord of boxing. One New York sportswriter charged: "It is possibleCarbo could shut down boxing in this country if he decided to pull astrike."
REFEREE PANTALEO had his license suspended in 1948 after arrest in a gambling raid. Asked why he scored the fight for Saxton, Pantaleo replied: "Some people got sour grapes."