We've been getting a good deal of mail lately that winds up "Yours in the APPPFF" or gets under way with "As a charter member of the APPPFF..." The APPPFF, you may remember, was a non-organized organization, conceived in levity and dedicated to the proposition that we were for boxing as the daddy of contact sports and were therefore somewhat dismayed at what seemed to us to be the game's determination to destroy itself through its own stupidity, cupidity and what we call fewpidity. This means simply too few promoters, too few managers, and a lack of the old-time competition that once kept fight clubs alive all over the country.
Well, darned if people didn't write in they wanted to join. It's a little frightening. I mean these things have a way of snowballing. If we aren't careful the APPPFF will have 40 million members and we'll have to build a 10-story building and elect a board of directors, God forbid.
Where did we get the 40 million? From George Gallup, no less. The man with the educated crystal ball out in Princeton, N.J. has now tucked an experimental thumb into the boxing pie and has come up with a statistical plum that four out of every 10 TViewers question the integrity of boxing as a sport. When the question was put like this, "Do you think that any of the boxing matches which you see on television are 'fixed' or not?" 40% answered, "Yes, some are fixed." In other words, according to the American Institute of Public Opinion, some 24 million guys and 17 million dolls are watching the Wednesday and Friday night fist fighters with a jaundiced eye. Only one in every four gave boxing a clean bill of health. Another third had no stomach for the fights or had no opinion. When Gallup narrowed his sampling from the general public to those who say they follow boxing, the percentage of jaundiced eyes was even higher, 48% as against 37% who seemed to be happy with boxing as it is.
More alarming, on the basis of his poll, the Doctor has galloped to the conclusion that 40 million Americans would do away with boxing if the decision were left to them. If I were the IBC, or if I were Mr. Pabst or Mr. Gillette, I'd be pretty worried about those figures. I wouldn't wait for the commissions to tap me on the wrist with a $2,500 fine for consorting with the likes of Frankie Carbo. It was all right to bag one once in a while when it was only for the 10,000 in the Garden. But we're in homes all over the country now. People are demanding that we run this on the straight up-and-up, like baseball, or clear out of the American arenas.
A MESSAGE FOR CARBO
That's what the APPPFF (with its potential non-membership of 40 million) would like Mr. Norris to tell Mr. Carbo and his friends, who have done their best (or worst) to besmirch boxing as the black sheep of the American sports family.
At the same time, just to keep things in perspective, it may be that the boxing scandals have distorted the public's conception of the make-or-break drama behind 99 out of 100 fights. They aren't advertised vaudeville like the wrestling. A Hurricane Jackson gets in there and takes his chances. He knocks out Bucceroni and he's a big $10 man. Valdes puts him down and he's back to two bits. The same with Charles the other night. If he had gotten over the clownish Jackson he might have made more money this year than a Young & Rubicam vice president. Most of the fights you see are not only in earnest, but decide the direction of careers. It takes a whole season for the Yankees. Just one night can do for Boardwalk Billy Smith and a lot of the other boys. Most of the time they're fighting for real.
But if three fights a year are rotten apples it can make for a pretty sour barrel. If I had the game in my pocket I wouldn't waste my ammunition on the critics who would like to see boxing saved from itself. I'd turn my artillery on the boys who treat the game as if it were their own private slum.