Getting on the same page.
These two December 1960 promotional photos show American welterweight/middleweight boxer Sugar Ray Robinson and Italian middleweight actress Rita Giannuzzi hamming it up after Robinson’s draw with rival Gene Fullmer at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Robinson and Giannuzzi were slated to appear together in a boxing-related movie—title to be determined—backed by lightweight producer Felice Zappulla and filmed in Europe. Apparently the idea never quite caught on, because the movie never happened.
For a little while at least, sports can bring a nation together.
The art deco influenced fútbol poster above, which is signed in its lower right corner by an artist whose identity is unknown to us, advertises a match between top flight Spanish sides Valencia F.C. and Real Madrid at Valencia’s Estadio de Mestalla. Months earlier Spain had become a republic after years of dictatorship under Miguel Primo de Rivera, and was about to enter into a period of unrest and rising fascism, leading to civil war and decades more dictatorship under Francisco Franco. But on this particular winter Sunday in Valencia the sole battle took place on the pitch at Mestalla. The star player on the field was Manuel Olivares Lapeña, who you see at right, but it was Jaime Lazcano Escolá and Juan Costa Font who netted goals that day. The game ended in a 1-1 draw—a triumph for a Valencia squad languishing at the bottom third of the table. But Real Madrid won the league.
, Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional
, Estadio de Mestalla
, Valencia F.C.
, Real Madrid
, Manuel Olivares Lapeña
, Jaime Lazcano Escolá
, Juan Costa Font
, Miguel Primo de Rivera
, Francisco Franco
, Josep Segrelles
Twelve leading causes of headaches and bodily pain.
The National Police Gazette devoted much of its space to boxing. Above you see twelve pages, some originals and some reprints, from its monthly feature the Gallery of Champions. Of course, Jimmy Carter, at top, later went on to become president of the United States. Really a remarkable story.
, Jimmy Carter
, Max Schmeling
, Joe Louis
, Billy Papke
, Georges Carpentier
, Jess Willard
, Packey McFarland
, Ezzard Charles
, Jack O’Brien
, Jack Dempsey
, Henry Armstrong
, magazine art
A man called Hawk.
Above is a classic boxing cover from The National Police Gazette, a magazine whose specialization in this area we’ve shared with you before. This time the unlucky pugilist is Kid Gavilán, née Gerardo González, aka The Cuban Hawk (gavilán is Spanish for hawk), who on this June 1953 cover is taking a beating from Sugar Ray Robinson. The occasion was 23 September 1948. Robinson won a controversial decision, and when the two met again the next year Robinson won by decision again. Though Gavilán never beat Robinson he did win the world welterweight title in 1951, and throughout that year, 1952, and 1953 defended it by winning brutal bout after brutal bout. That’s why the Gazette says Gavilán can take it. In 1954 he jumped weight classes and lost a middleweight title bout to Bobo Olson, then afterward fought Johnny Saxton and lost his welterweight crown. The rest of Gavilán’s career was up and down, but he’s remembered in boxing circles as one tough hombre. Below is the unaltered photo from which the Gazette made its great cover.
Yeah, but you should see the other guy.
This is American boxer Carmen Basilio, and bad as he looks on the outside, he feels even worse inside because he’s just learned he lost his welterweight title to challenger Johnny Saxton. That wasn’t what Basilio, the crowd of thousands, and the television audience of millions thought when the final bell rang, but the judges somehow saw a different fight than everyone else and awarded Saxton the decision. Did it have anything to do with the fact that Saxton was mafia-connected, and his “manager, friend, and adviser” was Philly mobster and notorious fight fixer Frank “Blinky” Palermo? Very possible. Basilio later said of the decision, which occurred in March 1956, “It was like being robbed in a dark alley.” Well, he certainly looks like a guy who was robbed. See more on Basilio here.
The Donald Sterling fiasco is a surprise to nobody. What will the NBA do now?
In the U.S. today, in our old home of Los Angeles, the city’s newly ascendant basketball team the Clippers is in the playoffs while team owner Donald Sterling’s racist personal beliefs have blown up in his face and cast a pall over his on-the-court product. You’ve maybe heard the story. His mixed race mistress recorded him insisting that she, well, that she basically reject her own blackness. Specifically, Sterling wanted her to stop posing for Instagram photos with black acquaintances and even told her to stop bringing black friends to Clippers games. The recordings also revealed his bizarre attitude toward his own players, who he feels he “gives” everything they have, despite the lifetime of work they’ve put in to reach the NBA.
Sterling’s legal mouthpiece has implied—but not asserted—that the recordings could be fake or altered. That’s highly doubtful. The idea that the mistress hired a voice actor, staged an argument, and then released the recording to harm Sterling makes little sense. For one, there’s this little thing called voice analysis that can determine whether recordings match certain voices, and anyone who’s watched a Friday night detective show knows that. Second, to make such a recording, or to alter one in order to damage another person’s standing, could be construed as criminal fraud, which seems a hell of a risk to take just to thumb your sugar daddy’s eyes. No, it’s Sterling on the recordings, and his camp has not issued a flat denial because that in itself would harm them in future legal proceedings once their assertion was proven to be untrue.
Some observers have cited Sterling’s charitable work, but let’s be clear—such activities are mandated, not necessarily in the league bylaws, but by the NBA culture. They are the price of owning a team. Just as players must appear at hospitals hugging sick children when they would rather be relaxing at home with their slippered feet on the coffee table, owners are expected to contribute to their communities. Yes, some players love making sickbed appearances because of heartfelt views, and it’s possiblesome of the league's owners enjoy philanthropy, but never forget that the NBA runs ads all year extolling this community service. It is good work, but it is also marketing used to make fans feel better about ponying up tax revenue for multi-million dollar arenas and for laying down hard earned coin for overpriced seats. In short, Sterling would have to deal with a host of league-wide consequences if he didn’t do charitable work. Likewise, there’s no contradiction in the fact that Sterling’s erstwhile mistress is mixed race. It has long been a privilege of old school male power that they can stick their dicks anyplace they like as long as they don’t embarrass themselves or shame their family by treating the person as anything other than a toy. That part isn’t even a matter of ethnicity. The same would be true if Sterling’s mistress were Norwegian: have all the fun you like, just don’t make a spectacle of yourself. At that Sterling has failed stupendously, and not for the first time. A notorious slumlord, in 2009 he lost the biggest housing discrimination suit in U.S. Justice Department history. At the trial witnesses divulged that Sterling believes African Americans smell bad, that Mexicans just sit around smoking and drinking all day, and that Koreans will live in terrible conditions and still meekly pay rent on time every month.
So today there will be a press conference at which NBA commissioner Adam Silver, empowered by public opinion and the other team owners (some of whom, by the way, are rumored to be barely better than Sterling), will presumably announce some form of punishment. It may or may not be severe enough to satisfy many observers, but the real issue that fans may want to consider is whether the NBA somehow enabled the entire
fiasco. Any player who had for years behaved as odiously as Sterling would have been disciplined long ago, yet the NBA brass turned a blind eye on an indicted slumlord and all around heel even as it touted its inclusive values and community minded culture. In fact, it looks suspiciously as if there was one set of rules for the workers and another for the 1%. Perhaps that’s what NBA fans should question, in the league and beyond.
How to break a head of the competition.
Last we saw Joe Louis he had been propelled by a Rocky Marciano punch out of the boxing ring (literally) and into an overdue retirement. But old boxers don’t usually fade away—they more often switch careers (e.g. Tyson/acting). Louis switched to wrestling in 1956, but after being diagnosed with a heart ailment, became a wrestling referee. It wasn’t such a surprising transition, as he had first refereed wrestling way back in 1944 when, during a 30-day furlough from military service, he officiated a match between Ernie Dusek and George Becker.
The above National Police Gazette cover from this month in 1960 shows action between Frankie Jarvis and Gino Garibaldi, with Louis seeming almost zen about it, as if offering a gentle reminder that neck stamping is bad for the karma. Hard to tell who’s the stamper and who’s the stampee, but if we had to guess we’d say Jarvis is on top and Garibaldi is the one being taught the tensile limits of his own spine. We checked both those guys out and while Jarvis produced no hits on the web, turns out Garibaldi was a major wrestling figure who fought more than 1,300 bouts over his career (doubtless some Pulp Intl. readers already knew that, but go easy on us—it was well before our time).
Louis worked as a ref until 1972, and though we don’t know if he was considered proficient or deficient in the profession, he did remain a prominent celebrity through those years, appearing at promotional events and competing on television quiz shows. As a side note, we should mention that his celebrity was even powerful enough for him to break the Professional Golf Association’s color line back in 1952, so the high profile he maintained throughout his retirement was simply the continuation of an established trend. We have several entries on Joe Louis on the website. If you want to see those, just click his keywords below.
Mike Tyson’s new autobiography Undisputed Truth tells of fake penises and coke-fueled boxing bouts.
England’s Guardian website has shared claims from ex-boxing champ Mike Tyson’s new autobiography Undisputed Truth, among them his admission that he used a fake penis called a “whizzer” to pass drug tests. We have a feeling Tyson is referring to the good ole Whizzinator 5000, invented by entrepreneurs George Wills and Robert Catalano, and which we wrote about back in 2008. In short, you’d strap the contraption inside your pants and at the moment of truth use its realistic latex phallus (which sold in various colors, but sadly only one size) to issue a stream of drug-free synthetic urine. We hailed Wills’ and Catalano’s genius, but law enforcement authorities felt differently and charged them with violating one of America’s eight million federal drug statutes.
One gets the impression Tyson’s whizzer was an oft used piece of equipment, because according to his book he was ingesting drugs so routinely that he fought high several times, necessitating lots of faked urine tests. Tyson even claims the brutal 38-second TKO he scored against Lou Savarese occurred during a marijuana/cocaine high. In that bout, Tyson knocks down Savarese with his first punch but Savarese regains his feet. At that point, Tyson crawls fully up in Savarese’s ass, so much so that when the ref tries to stop the fight Tyson just tosses him aside and keeps on chucking hooks and uppercuts. It makes no sense if you think of it as a boxing match, but if you think of it as punishment for standing between a man and his next rail of coke, it all becomes crystal clear.
The fight is probably worth watching, for those who have a spare minute. Even the announcers are bemused by the spectacle. Savarese probably already felt bad all these years about being the opponent in Tyson’s second shortest professional bout—now he surely feels worse knowing Tyson probably thought of him as little more than a brief annoyance to be dealt with before regaining access to the marching powder and Moët. But Savarese should count himself lucky. If he’d put up more resistance he might have ended up being fed to one of Tyson’s pet tigers. It was Aristotle, we think, who in explaining his theory of gravity said: “Stand between a man and his next fat line at your peril.” See our original Whizzinator story here.
Joe Louis fights beyond his prime with predictable results.
It’s been awhile since we shared one of The National Police Gazette’s famed boxing covers, so today we have a smudged and smeared but still compelling one featuring Joe Louis after being knocked down by Rocky Marciano. Louis had taken the fight strictly for the money, which he needed to deal with tax problems. Pretty much everyone (except those sneaky oddsmakers) knew Louis would lose to Marciano, who was a decade younger and the reigning heavyweight champ, and indeed Louis was knocked out in the eighth round. That was today in 1951. We also found the original photo the Gazette used for its cover, which hit newsstands in October 1952. Unfortunately we had to go to a white supremacist website to get it. We’re going to take a long shower, and we’ll continue with our regularly scheduled pulp once we feel clean again. In the meantime, to see more fascinating Gazette boxing covers start here and here, and follow the links in those posts.
American boxing great’s legacy includes seminal film about the antebellum South.
The death of boxing champ Ken Norton has produced some nice tributes, but we wanted to mention that he also made a couple of interesting movies. The one most worth watching is 1975’s Mandingo, a slavery tale that has gone unsurpassed for realism in depicting America’s antebellum South. A few movies are at the same level of historical accuracy (including the amazing Addio Zio Tom, which we’re going to feature here in a couple of weeks), but Mandingo remains notable for its sweaty, oppressive feel and rich cinematography. Norton wasn’t chosen for the pivotal role of Ganymede because he could act. He was chosen because of his physical build and good looks—the first was necessary for scenes in which his character takes part in brutal pit fights, and the second makes the movie’s subplot of forbidden sexual desire plausible. When we featured Mandingo a few years ago we didn’t recommend it fully, but any film which some prominent critics have hailed as a classic and was a clear influence on Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, but which Robert Ebert originally rated a zero has to be worth watching, if only to see what the fuss is all about.
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
1929—Stock Market Crashes
Black Thursday, a catastrophic crash on the New York Stock Exchange, occurs when the value of stocks suddenly declines and continues to decline for a month. The event leads to a subsequent crash in world stock prices and precipitates the Great Depression. This after famous economist Irving Fisher had declared that stock prices had reached a permanently high plateau.
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying
. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
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