The easy way to fix a fight is to "have" one or more of the officials. Fighters are complicated; they have too much pride, petulance, greed, and are bad actors. Not so long ago, for instance, a fighter working in an eastern city was so fastidious that when he swooned from a negligible punch he daintily placed his hand between his cheek and the canvas so he would not soil his face. And there was the heavyweight who was told to collapse in the second, so it would look good. "Aw," the guy said, a real kvetch who lost by himself anyway, "I worked all day. I'm tired. What's wrong with the first?" Venal officials are more dependable and artful; they are mature and don't talk back. Judges come cheap because there are two of them. If a fight is expected to be close, it is acceptable to "have" one judge; two judges constitute what gamblers call a lock. The referee comes dearer. There is only one of him and he has, moreover, the power to give one fighter a favorable position on the break, to harass another with excessive warnings, to take rounds away or to stop the fight. Some guys even "have" the doctor.
Last week a 51-year-old New York newspaper circulation clerk named Bert Grant was indicted, arrested (and released in $2,500 bail after pleading not guilty) on charges of conspiring with Hymie (the Mink) Wallman, a New York fight manager and furrier, to fix five fights (for honorariums of $50 or $100) involving Wallman's fighters. The fights, which took place in New York from October 1954 to February 1958, were: Kilgore vs. Ward, Cadilli vs. Chestnut, Besmanoff vs. Miteff, Ippolito vs. Zulueta and Valdes vs. Miteff. Grant was in a position to do Hymie some good; he has been a fight judge for 11 years. As it turned out, Grant couldn't do Hymie any good; the four fights which he worked were decided unanimously in Wallman's favor. The fifth fight Grant did not work, but he is accused of accepting $100 from Wallman for "good will."
"I don't know from nothing," wailed Hymie the Mink, when reporters told him about Grant. But the Mink, a guy who runs around with the tough guys and the mustache guys to be a big man and who is reportedly a front for Mobster Frankie Carbo, was a weasel after all. Granted immunity to testify before the grand jury, he had obviously been singing with the vigor and profuseness of a Harz Mountain canary.
New York Boxing Commissioner Julius Helfand, who seems, regrettably, to have become unhorsed after his early crusades, said with a degree of piousness, "It is most unfortunate that the district attorney [Frank S. Hogan] granted immunity to Wallman. It is just as heinous to be the bribe giver as the receiver, or worse." Julie suspended Hymie's license and announced that the commission was preparing charges against him.
The life of the grand jury, which has been sitting since April, following a flutter of subpoenas in Madison Square Garden (SI, March 31), has been extended until December 4, so it may continue to explore boxing's dark jungle. Among the witnesses expected to appear before it is James D. Norris, president emeritus of the International Boxing Club. Hogan has been trying to serve Norris since early June. Last week Norris' attorney said that Marse Jim was convalescing from a heart attack at his Paris, Ky. breeding farm and that his client would not be able to testify. When Hogan said he wanted a court-appointed doctor to determine whether Norris was, indeed, fit to take the stand, Norris said he wasn't ducking any subpoena, no sir, and that he would return to New York.
The grand jury, it has been learned, has voted additional indictments, involving bigger names. There are, alas, more beasts in the jungle than a protean mink-weasel-canary and a pathetic fight judge.
But the proper show goes on. On July 16 (Wednesday night Fights) Light Heavyweights Yvon Durelle and Mike Holt have a go at each other in Montreal, near enough Durelle's home port to be worth noting. Durelle, a free-swinger, is fourth-ranked, and his crude, resolute ways have usually stood him in good stead. Holt, the seventh-ranked cruiser, knocks them out in Johannesburg, but it has been suggested that his reputation as a puncher doubtless derives from the fact that he shows no ability whatsoever as a boxer. It ought to be a rouser, but Durelle, a 2½-4 choice, should overwhelm Holt, who allows himself a good deal of punishment, around about the eighth.
The Friday night (July 18) TV fight at New York involves lightweights: Bobby Scanlon, a moody, restless Irishman who is undefeated in 29 fights and has never been knocked down or suffered a facial cut, and Gale Kerwin. Scanlon is quick, hand and foot, and has sharp combinations, including the jab and the double hook. Although he has a tendency to hit and hold, to lunge, defenseless, when he misses a lead, and to be a little smart-alecky, Scanlon should win the decision. The morning line is 7 to 5 pick 'em.
HYMIE: "I DON'T KNOW FROM NOTHING"