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How the mob rigs fights

By Scoop Malinowski

A lot of ring observers find it hard to accept that fight fixing happens in boxing today. Despite massive evidence and motive by the establishment to protect their key asset moneymakers, many fans and media won’t consider that some or many of the biggest fights they see are corrupted in one way or another. They believe everything they see at face value.

Peter Heller’s book “In This Corner…!” is filled with numerous examples of fixed fights, revealed by the fighters themselves. The book is a compilation of interviews with many famous former champions, several who spill the beans on the fight fixing corruption they encountered.

Henry Armstrong said his middleweight title fight with Ceferino Garcia in 1940 was rigged. “They had figured they were going to bribe me. I was favored over him to beat him. That’s when they tried to bribe me. I was offered close to $75,000 to take a dive to him in the fourth round. They figured I was going to fall. They offered me all this money. They called me up one day at my training camp in Pasadena, to come to the old Main Street Gym and offered me all this money. I could bet back on myself and get rich. I didn’t do it. Then, what they had to do, they postponed that fight another seven or eight days  so they could get (Garcia) in shape. George Blake, the referee, was the only man to give the decision. They had told him if I’d have won there’d been a lot of money lost. If I win, his life wasn’t worth a plug nickel. And that poor man, he never refereed after that, He turned white in the ring, actually white. When the fight was over he tried in a hurry to get out. He just held both hands which meant a draw.”

Armstrong, who held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight titles simultaneously, said his fight with Barney Ross for the welter title was also rigged.  “I carried him the last four rounds. I was asked to do it.”

Armstrong revealed in Heller’s book his first fight with Baby Arizmendi in Mexico City in 1934 was also corrupted. “We were actually supposed to not win the fight. That’s how we got it. My manager promised this man that I wouldn’t knock Arizmendi out. I wouldn’t cut him up. We promised this. I said, I’ll carry the guy. Fifteen hundred dollars. That’s the first time I got this kind of money.”

Armstrong was offered a second fight with Arizmendi but was then asked to lose. “They guaranteed me $1500 in American money to fight him in the bullring  but in order to get this fight we’ve got to lose to him again.”

Ike Williams also revealed he was asked to throw a fight. “Blinky Palermo came to my camp for this fight with Jimmy Carter. No one knew I was injured. Blinky says, ‘Ike, they want to give you $50,000 to lose this fight. Six months time he’ll fight you back again and lose it back to you.’ I said No. I should have done it because I wouldn’t be able to beat him with this bad shoulder. Eighteen days later I was supposed to fight Art Aragon and, talking to myself, I said even if I beat Jimmy Carter I won’t be able to beat Art Aragon with one hand. So I should have taken it. But I didn’t. One of the reasons why I’m broke now.”

Heller’s book is filled with such revelations among the life stories of the ring legends. Which leads one to wonder, is this how boxing still operates? Is it plausible most of Mayweather’s fights under Al Haymon and the $150,000,000 guaranteed Showtime contract were orchestrated to protect the franchise? Hey, would you like to fight Floyd? We’ll give you more money than you ever earned before but you have to play soft and lose…

Will today’s fighters with secrets to conceal someday reveal in future interviews decades down the road, just like Henry Armstrong and Ike Williams did for Peter Heller? Just how many fixes have been rigged that we don’t even know about?

Is it simply impossible to vacuum out all the corruption and dirty rotten greedy scoundrels out of the sport?

Unfortunately yes. But yet we all still love this wacky business don’t we?

About Scoop Malinowski

Author of six books including "Muhammad Ali: Portrait of a Champion" and "Heavyweight Armageddon: The Lewis versus Tyson Championship Battle" available at amazon