Once again, Boston's great, gullible boxing public has become the fight mob's chump. The news ticker reads "New York City—Contracts were signed today for Tony DeMarco, Boston's newly crowned world welter champion, to meet Carmen Basilio, challenger from Syracuse, N.Y. for the title on June 10. The bout will be in Syracuse."
Hello, suckers! We've been picked for a patsy by the IBC-Mob, whose long arm reached into Boston to snatch back its private property. The New York fight monopolists have once more forced their will on a Class-B fight town to protect syndicate boxing. Tony DeMarco is now inducted into the IBC Trust to be exploited by the muscle mob.
Here's an eye-witness episode: following Friday night's sensational upset which had underrated DeMarco flailing the sawdust filling out of the Mob's waxworks champion (Saxton), Frank Carbo approached Rip Valenti.
The dictator of the "Combo" spoke grimly. DeMarco's secret manager listened glumly.
"Remember," said Carbo, "your first title defense is with Basilio at Syracuse. I promised Jim Norris and we always keep our word."
It was an ultimatum. The fight mob's Jove had hurled his thunderbolt in a short, ominous sentence, "we always keep our word." Nothing more was needed. The inference was "either, or else." Now let Valenti deny he talked with Carbo, or that this is not the gist of the conversation. Nor can Valenti plead: "I had no choice. I signed a contract."
True, he had no alternative. But it wasn't because of the contract, which was coercive and has no legal standing. It was because the Mob has persuasive ways of its own, as proved when Ray Arcel was skulled by an imported slugger wielding a hunk of pipe on September 19, 1953, in front of the Hotel Manger.
So Valenti heeded the master's voice. He promptly had DeMarco whisked to New York while the kid's wounds from the Saxton fight were still fresh. He wished to demonstrate his prompt obedience to the code. And DeMarco, as Rip's protégé, did as he was told. His not to reason why—his but to do.
Thus DeMarco becomes an involuntary chattel of the IBC, forced to accept the Mob dictates, which are to fight his first title-defense before an alien crowd and at the unpredictable whims of alien fight officials for a percentage of a $150,000 (maximum) gate, or about one-third what the same bout would draw at Fenway Park.
Now let's fit together the pieces of this puzzle and study the partially complete picture, which will be finished at Syracuse on June 10. Immediately after Tony clobbered Saxton, Blinky Palermo (Carbo's No. 2 boss of the Mob) resigned his privilege of a rematch with DeMarco within 90 days in a town of his (Blinky's) choosing. With rare generosity Blinky waived Saxton's priority in favor of Basilio. Why was he so liberal?
It didn't take long to learn why. The Mob's boss changed the plot in collaboration with the IBC's Jim Norris. Jim decided that Basilio, an IBC "policeman," was better equipped to beat DeMarco. Norris didn't wish to risk having tough-Tony slap Saxton silly again.
Blinky graciously stepped down—temporarily! But he was promised a consolation prize—the next welter title-bout in late summer and a fat slice of the profits. Palermo, like Valenti, had to take the Mob's potluck. For such is the hard, disciplinary rule of Carbo that Blinky did not receive the full $40,000 guaranteed for the De-Marco fight. He got only half ($20,000) from the small ($53,662) net, a poor house caused by Tony's disappointing fight with Jimmy Carter on Feb. 11.
Most of the rest went to Valenti and Sam Silverman for being good boys. It took Sam off the deficit hook and sweetened Rip's disposition for later events. Deponent saith not what DeMarco got. For things are not what they are reported, either to the Boxing Commission or the press. Things are what the fight pixies decide behind locked doors!
So Valenti let himself be captured by the enemy and marched to the rear, taking DeMarco along as the IBC's latest hostage. And once more the great, credulous fight public becomes a patsy to a Mob conspiracy. Me too. For I thought Valenti would have the gumption to defy the New York Monopoly and give his protégé an honest break. He lacked the guts.
As Alice in Wonderland says, things get "curiouser and curiouser" in the audacious mockery of boxing. Boston is once more the chump in a fight conspiracy, to be milked and mulcted until a home-town star is born, only to see him kidnaped by sharpies. And De-Marco becomes an unwitting mouse marched into the fat-cat's hungry jaws. So, hello suckers!—see you at the badminton games.
"Touché, Mr. Carter, touché!"
Jack Slack, a dirty fighter with a hard punch, ended Jack Broughton's distinguished reign as heavyweight champion of England 205 years ago this week. Temporarily blinded after a few minutes of fighting, the clever Broughton was urged to further effort by the Duke of Cumberland, who had bet $250,000 on him. The gallant veteran replied, "I'm blind, Your Grace. Only let me see my man and he shall not beat me yet." But Cumberland could not open Broughton's swollen eyes. In 14 minutes the title had passed to Slack.