In previous columns, I’ve attacked the whole lot from unscrupulous boxing promoters (Don King – Bob Arum), to incompetent and biased boxing judges (take your choose), to haughty boxing honchos (Seth Abraham of HBO). However now I’ll provide you with boxing followers some perception into the inside workings of the Boxing Writers Affiliation, a corporation nearly seventy years outdated, who for years have achieved nothing for boxing however to provide out questionable awards, generally to their very own members.
The Boxing Writers Affiliation (as soon as extra correctly referred to as The New York Boxing Writers Affiliation) was fashioned within the center 1920’s, and a few of it is illustrious early presidents had been Nat Fleishcher of the “Bible of Boxing” Ring Journal, and boxing author Ed Sullivan, who later modified hats and gave black and white TV viewers a “Actually massive shew” each Sunday night time at eight pm.
Within the late 1970’s, I used to be a wide-eyed neophyte boxing author doing a full web page of boxing each Monday for the Information World in New York Metropolis. In actual fact, I used to be the one full-time boxing author employed for any day by day newspaper within the metropolis of New York. So, I summoned the braveness and utilized for admittance into the hallowed Boxing Writers Affiliation.
Sadly, I used to be not met with open arms.
The outdated fogies within the Boxing Writes Affiliation most likely thought in case your identify is Joe Bruno and also you had been born and raised in Mafia territory in Little Italy, I needed to be in some way linked to “The Boys.” That they had already rid boxing of Frankie Carbo and Blinkie Palermo (two paisans who ran boxing with an iron fist and metal bullets for a few years, and went to jail for his or her troubles), so accepting one other vowel-ending member was not on the highest of their record of essential issues to do. But, after cautious consideration (and possibly the concern of getting their knees damaged), I used to be reluctantly issued my Boxing Writers Affiliation membership card.
My coronary heart fluttered, as I not sat down and broke bread with my early sports activities writing heroes – Crimson Smith and Dick Younger. However I used to be quickly shocked and dismayed to seek out out that almost all of the members of the Boxing Writers Affiliation weren’t boxing writers in any respect, however in actual fact public relations individuals, most working for varied boxing promoters all through the nation.
Positive, there have been crack boxing scribes like Mike Katz, then of the New York Occasions, and Eddie Schuyler of Related Press, however the males who carried a lot of the weight and made the entire choices had been the late Murray Goodman (PR particular person for Don King), Irving Rudd (Bob Arum), Boxing Writers recording secretary Tommy Kenville (Madison Sq. Backyard) John Condon (Madison Sq. Backyard), Trish McCormick (Madison Sq. Backyard), and impartial PR persons-for-hire Wealthy Rose, Irvin Rosey, Eddie Pitcher, Harold Conrad, Howie Dolgen and Patti Dryfus. There have been extra boxing press brokers who had been additionally voting members of the Boxing Writers Affiliation, however their names and faces now escape me.
The secretary-treasurer of the Boxing Writers for as a few years as anybody might keep in mind was the intensely disliked Marvin Kohn, who’s declare to fame was that he was Sophie Tucker’s press agent someday within the Roaring Twenties. Kohn was additionally an influential long-time commissioner on the New York State Athletic Fee, and he used his energy there as a lead weight to beat into submission anybody who dared to problem his clout within the Boxing Writers Affiliation. (As treasurer, Kohn hoarded the Boxing Writers monies amassed all through the years, and at each assembly Dick Younger demanded an accounting of the funds, and was by no means given one. Younger died in 1987, and Kohn died just a few years later, and so far as I do know, the thriller of the Boxing Writers riches died with him)
The non-public pursuits of the highly effective press brokers grew to become evident after we held our yearly luncheon to appoint individuals for our prestigious awards offered at our yearly bigwig Boxing Author’s Dinner held in some hallowed resort in New York Metropolis. Nominations had been taken for Fighter of the Yr, Supervisor/Coach of the Yr, TV media particular person of the 12 months, Boxing Author of the Yr, and different illustrious awards such because the James J. Walker Award for “lengthy and meritorious service to the game of boxing.” (Why such an essential award was given within the identify of a New York Mayor who was so disgraced he resigned from workplace and fled the nation earlier than he was arrested was by no means defined to little outdated me)
The process for accepting nominations had been thus: You raised your hand and named anybody you darn nicely happy. Such identify was instantly accepted into nomination, and when 5 – 6 names had been compiled, the nomination was closed. Secret ballots had been despatched out weeks later, and votes had been counted, however since among the press brokers did the precise counting, the ballots had been hardly secret in any respect.
I obtained my first whiff of a potential battle of curiosity when Murray Goodman nominated his boss Don King for the James J. Walker Award in 1981. King’s “lengthy and meritorious service to boxing” at the moment was an entire 5 years, however if you had been as outdated as Murray was, I assume you lose observe of time.
The next month through the winter vacation season, King threw a vacation extravaganza at a well-known New York Metropolis nightclub. Invited had been sure boxers, trainers and managers, however the principle recipients of King’s largess had been the fifty or so member of the Boxing Writers Affiliation who would vote for the awards proper after the primary of the 12 months. The dinner was extra lavish than most weddings I’ve attended in New York Metropolis.
There was an open bar from six pm to midnight, and the dinner consisted of Prime Ribs and Lobster tails. However the largest trace that King wished bang for his buck was when after the dinner Murray Goodman went round to every member of the Boxing Writers Affiliation and handed us a present, saying, “If you vote subsequent month for the James J. Walker Award, do not forget to vote together with your conscience.”
I tugged open the vacation wrappings and got here nose to nose with an enormous silver platter with the King’s identify and emblem caught smack within the center. This platter needed to price shut to 5 hundred dollars in 1981 cash. I used to be so shocked by the providing and the innuendo, and I could not determine what to do with the darn factor anyway, I nearly handed the platter again to Murray. However extra on that later.
Then, Murray and King made the rounds of all of the boxing writers, and King supplied every one in every of us his private vacation greetings. By the point King caught up with me, I used to be wobbling on the bar close to midnight banging down my second dozen scotch and sodas with TV sports activities maven Invoice Mazer and New York Submit boxing author Mike Marley, who was on the time Don King’s proper hand man at Don King Enterprises. The “King and I” had our private issues previously, so I noticed he was considerably reluctant to shake my hand. However good outdated Murray, whom I truly beloved dearly, principally prodded King into extending me his hand. King towered over me and mentioned one thing like “Comfortable Vacation, and thanks for coming.”
I shook palms with the massive lug, and after our palms disengaged, I appeared up and timidly mentioned, “Don, thanks for inviting me. This is among the finest events I’ve ever been invited to. And subsequent month after I vote for the James J. Walker Award, I WILL vote with my conscience. I am voting for Eddie Futch!”
I subsequent noticed the identical look King should have given poor Samuel Garret earlier than King stomped Garret to demise on a sidewalk in Cleveland in 1966. King grimaced, he growled, he gurgled, then he spat out, “You guinea b*****d!”
Murray jumped between us earlier than The King and I went at it, and since I am fairly good with my palms, and King clearly solely along with his ft, I had felt actual good about my possibilities.
The following month, Eddie Futch gained the James J. Walker Award in a runaway, and that was the final vacation celebration, to not point out silver platter, that to my ข่าวมวย, Don King has ever thrown for the members of the Boxing Writers Affiliation.
However again to the silver platter. I instantly offered the platter to my Aunt Frances, who was given just a little pet for Christmas by her son, my cousin Johnny. Aunt Frances used the silver platter as a feeding dish for her new canine, whom she fondly named “King.”