Sportswire Jul 26 2011
KING BASILIO
He had a face only a mother could love.

The National Police Gazette focuses on sports with this July 1956 cover of welterweight and middleweight boxing champion Carmen Basilio. According to the Gazette, Basilio lost his welterwight title to challenger Johnny Saxton due to the fact that the judges had been bought off by local mob figures. This may have been true. Saxton was tight with—or perhaps controlled by—a Philadelphia wiseguy named Blinky Palermo. Saxton was no hack—he went 39-0-1 to start his career—but in some of those fights his opponents gave less than their all, conspicuously so.

Saxton won his first title in 1954 against Kid Gavilán, and that fight was openly discussed as a fixed affair. When Saxton topped Basilio in March 1956 in a fifteen round decision, Basilio said bluntly of the judging, “It was like being robbed in a dark alley.” The Gazette took up his case four months later. Other magazines weighed in on Basilio’s behalf as well, and in September 1956 he got his revenge when he knocked out Saxton in a rematch.

Basilio finished his career with a respectable record of 56-27-7, having taken quite a few beatings, but also having dished quite a few out. In the end his face was a topographical map of all those battles, with ridges and hillocks everywhere, but on this Gazette cover showing him after winning the welterweight title, he positively glows. There’s nothing quite like winning. 

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