The guilt iskilt. Jim Norris' announcement that he intends to continue promoting his Fridaynight television shows at Madison Square Garden came as a crushing blow to theInternational Boxing Guild, which had been encouraged by him to believe hewould back it in its all-out fight with Julius Helfand, chairman of the NewYork State Athletic Commission. The second half of the one-two knockoutcombination came when the Maryland State Athletic Commission withdrew itssanction for the Guild to transfer its Monday night TV boxing show from NewYork to Baltimore.
By this rapidchange of fortune the small group of monopolists are left on the furthermostend of a limb that broke under the double blow.
With Norris onthe spot with Helfand and faced with the threat of a heavyweight championshipbout in New York next summer between Marciano and Floyd Patterson, promoted byAl Weill, the head of the IBC quickly recognized the side on which his mannawas nectared and decided to change his party line. In this move he probably hadthe approval of his chief strategist, a scheming gentleman whose plans arealways flexible.
Norris hadexperience in coping with boxing managers' guilds before. In 1950 he broke astrike with the aid of his master strategist.
At that time theGuild was a representative body, not a monopolist group allied with the IBC andpowerful boxing racketeers. The Guild had a war chest of $44,000 and a thrivingmembership which represented every class of manager. Television was juststarting to make inroads on the box office of fight clubs, and the managers,alert to the danger, voted to demand a 50-50 split of the TV revenue tocompensate them for shrinking gate receipts.
When Norris andhis undercover advisers were confronted with the Guild's ultimatum, they cameup with the answer so quickly that the guildsmen, taken by surprise, wererouted. The IBC announced that to break the strike it would put on amiddleweight championship fight between Jake LaMotta and Rocky Graziano. Afterthis subterfuge had served its purpose, the IBC staged a middleweightchampionship match between Jake and Tiberio Mitri. How was Mr. Norris able tobeat the strike? Through the assistance of Frank Carbo, who controlled LaMotta,and Eddie Coco, manager of Graziano and Mitri.
Having thusbroken the Guild, the IBC and its saboteurs boring from within helped to hastenits demise by creating an overwhelming sentiment among the small-fry managersto vote for the distribution of the "war chest." Once this was carriedout, the rest was easy. A small group of managers, some of them front men forCarbo, Coco and other hoodlums, operating behind the scenes, met at the home ofHymie Wallman, where, according to Hymie's own admission, Carbo had been aguest, and organized an ultra-exclusive body called the Board of Trade.
When the propshad been knocked from under the old Guild, Charley Johnston, president of thatbody, was summoned by a phone call one night from a meeting of the old groupwhich he was conducting (i.e., to the cemetery)—and never came back. A few dayslater it was announced that he had been named president of the newly organizedInternational Boxing Guild. There hasn't been an election yet. Honest WilliamDaly, another of the primordial papas, wound up as secretary-treasurer, withJack Kearns, another founding father, named as the veep.
The new Guild wasjust what was prescribed by the IBC doctors. It was compact, it was made upexclusively of managers who had agreed to "play ball" and it waspledged not to cause any TV contract trouble for the IBC. In exchange for this,the small group was to be protected from "unfair competition" fromthose outside the group by getting all the TV assignments. Promising boxers onthe way up were steered to the right stables by mobsters who in most cases hadgained control of them. This arrangement has made the small group that reallyconstitutes the International Guild rich while pauperizing those outside thepale.
Drunk with power,the Guild brazenly defied Helfand when he started looking into its peculiarways of doing business. The Guild's decision to move the Monday nighttelevision show from its privately operated St. Nicholas Arena to Baltimoreafter Frankie Carbo had made the arrangements through his friend, Benny Trotta,the Baltimore promoter, was the last straw for Helfand. After telling Norristhe facts of life he gave chapter and verse on the deal, which caused Gov. T.R. McKeldin to intervene and the Maryland commission to withdraw the sanctionit had given the Guild. And the Guild's limb came crashing down!
"No, we don't carry any equipment for jousting."