Archive for the boxing Category


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Muhammad Ali, May He Rest in Peace, Was Never a Hero

Posted in boxing, Uncategorized with tags , , on June 4, 2016 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Muhammad Ali passed away Friday night, June 3, 2016. I wrote the article below around the year 2000.

I got to know him fairly well in the 1980’s, when I was Vice President of the Boxing Writers Association. He was a real friendly man, and we had several nice conversations about what I have written below.

Still, his death doesn’t change what he was, and what he did early in his career.

I know I’m going to get a lot of heat for this, but it is with a heavy heart that I stand by what is written below.

It’s just the truth, and a man’s death doesn’t change the truth.


Muhammad Ali Hero?—Not!!!!!!!
There’s a new phenomenon taking place in boxing, and in the news media in general, which I’ll gracefully call revisionist history. I’m talking about the way the so-called media portrays one of the most controversial figures of all time – Muhammad Ali.

Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali may have been great fighter, but he was also a shameless draft dodger, who refused to fight for his country in the Vietnam War.

If you say the United States didn’t belong in Vietnam–I agree. If you say it was a stupid war, a war we couldn’t win — I also agree. I didn’t like the war any more than Ali did, but me and hundreds of thousands of other men like me, black, white, or whatever, went into the United States armed service because it was our duty to our country and to our families.

Ali’s refusal to be inducted wasn’t a black/white thing like he and his people tried to shove down our throats. Hundreds of thousand of white men chickened out and avoided service in Vietnam too.

Ali claimed to be a Muslim minister as his exemption to get out of the military draft. Ali was a minister like Al Sharpton is a Reverend and like Dr. Irwin Corey is a physician. The draft board rightfully saw through Ali’s charade and classified him one A. But this man, who had already gotten rich though the American system of free enterprise, adamantly refused to take the one symbolic step forward on the day he was drafted.

To me, that was not only traitorous, it was darn personal.

My own life was put on hold for almost eight years because of the Vietnam War. I graduated Cardinal Hayes high school in 1965, I wasn’t taking enough credits at Hunter College to avoid the draft because I had to work full time so I could buy food to eat and keep a roof over my head. So, as was prescribed by the rules of the draft, I received a 1A classification.

In 1966, I decided to join the Navy, which three of my uncles had already served in, rather than get drafted into the army. I did four years active duty and another two years reserve. I could’ve beaten the draft like other skells did. Some jerks erroneously claimed to be gay to beat the draft. Others put needles in their arms and said they were junkies so they would fail the physical. And still others like myself were too proud to do things so disgraceful and humiliating, so we did what we thought was the only right and honorable thing to do. We either joined, or we were inducted into the Armed Forces of the United States of America. My only other alternative was suicide, since my father and my uncles would’ve surely beaten me to death if I ever did anything offensive to myself, my family and my country.

Starting in 1969, I did an 11-month tour on the aircraft carrier Constellation in the Bay of Tonkin 40 miles off the coast of Vietnam. I was a parachute rigger, so once a week I had to fly by helicopter into De Nang to pack the chutes in their base parachute loft. I saw white men serving there in the worst of conditions, along with black men, Muslims, Catholics, Jews and Protestants and a couple of Lithuanians too. Men that didn’t want to be in Vietnam any more than I did, but went anyway because America, right or wrong, is still our country, and if you want to live here and enjoy what the best country in the world has to offer, you have obligations.

I’ll never forget the night Ali fought Joe Frazier for the first time in 1970. The fight was broadcast live on Armed Forces Radio in the middle of the night for us in Vietnam. I remember hundreds of us setting our alarms for 3 am, even though we were on 12-hour working shifts in the war zone for as long as 45 days in a row. We sat around radios in all parts of the Constellation and I don’t remember one man who was rooting for Ali to win. Every race, color and creed was rooting for Smokin’ Joe Frazier, not the big-mouthed, race-baiting, draft dodger, and when Smokin’ Joe landed his famous left hook that dropped Ali in the fifteenth round, the huge ship rocked with cheers.

For whatever flimsy reasons he and white-hating Muslim sect tried to concoct, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces, and to me and millions like me, that’s the bottom line. You disgrace the memory of tens of thousands heroic Americans, black, white or whatever, who died in Vietnam and in every war before and since Vietnam, when you glorify the draft dodger, scoundrel, reprobate and the four-marriage adulterer Muhammad Ali definitely was. The pitiful condition he’s in now is sad, but has no relevance to the sins he committed back when he was, as he defiantly proclaimed —-The Greatest.

Thirty years have passed, and the sportswriters who railed against Ali’s treason in the 1960’s – men like Jimmy Cannon, Dick Young, and the great Red Smith – are all dead. The scribes still living are mostly the flower-child, pot-smoking, free-love, “peace man” types (Maynard G Krebs/Beatniks) and selective-memory airheads like Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Frank Rich and Mollie Irvins. Others who choose to ignore Ali’s dark past are generally Jane Fonda/Country Joe Fish-types and Woodstock Generation lemmings, who watch MSNBC and read left-wing rags like the New York Times, The Village Voice and the Washington Post. Not to mention limousine-liberals like the Kennedys and Cuomos, who wouldn’t be caught dead being in the same building with the very people whose pain they supposedly feel.

Muhammad Ali was a great fighter, but he was a draft dodger and much worse. In my book he will never be a great American. He was certainly no Joe Louis, a black man who proudly served his country in World War II and was rightfully referred to by Jimmy Cannon as “a credit to his race — the human race.”

Ali is a credit to no one but himself. His war record, along with the alimony he is forced to pay to four ex-wives, tells me more about Muhammad Ali than anything he ever did in the ring.

The Real Story – Heavyweight Title Fight: James “Bonecrusher” Smith VS Tim Witherspoon

Posted in boxing, Don King, famous fights, heavyweight title, Jose Torres with tags , , , , on November 14, 2014 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

There was controversy before and after this fight. I know. I was covering this fight as a sports writer for the Middletown (NY) Record, and I was the VP of the Boxing Writers Association at the time.

The fight was originally supposed to be Witherspoon, the champion, against light-hitting Tony Tubbs at Madison Square Garden. Don King was Witherspoon’s promoter. Then King signed Bonecrusher Smith to a promotional contract and just a few weeks before the fight, he withdrew Tubbsand inserted the hard hitting Smith.

Witherspoon refused to fight Smith, and King ran to Jose Torres, then the Chairman of the NY State AC. For whatever reason, Torres told Witherspoon if he didn’t fight Smith, he’d strip him of his title. Witherspoon, who had beaten Smith before and irate his own promoter had turned against him, went into the fight with nothing. It was like he didn’t even try.

A few days after the fight, Torres announced to the press that Witherspoon had failed his post-fight drug test. Jackie Graham, an assistant to Torres, and the brother of 1950-60s welterweight Billy Graham, then told the press that Torres has misunderstood him when he told Torres the test had come back “negative.” Torres, more than a little embarrassed, immediately fired Graham.

The very popular Graham told his story to several boxing writers, who all, including myself, then wrote articles laying out what really happened. Torres, now even more embarrassed, hired Graham back, saying he never really fired him in the fight place.

Bert Sugar, my good friend and close to Torres (they wrote a book together “Sting like a Bee – The Muhammad Ali Story), explained to me what really happened.

Bert told me, “English is Jose’s second language. He misunderstood ‘negative drug test’ to mean Witherspoon had failed the test.”

You can’t make up stuff like this.

As for why Torres forced Witherspoon to fight Smith, you can draw your own conclusions.

It was really a big deal in NY City at the time. From that point on, I always questioned Jose Torres’s motives.

I even wrote a column with an open letter to Gov. Cuomo in the Middletown Record, showing him several instances where Torres bent and even broke the rules. I pleaded with Cuomo to replace Torres with someone else. But Cuomo never answered me back.

To give you an example, Torres used to cheer on and give during-the-rounds instructions to several Hispanic fighters, including Mark Medal and Roberto Duran, from his seat in the first row at ringside. Because of this, one Florida promoter once told me he’d never again bring another fighter to NY.

Then I got complaints from fighters, managers and trainers that Torres was applying the screws to them.One famous trainer told me that Torres wanted to steal his fighter, who was managed by a famous manger. Torres told this trainer that he had several people, some of them famous writers, who he said he could put the fighter’s contract under their names. But he would really be their manager. The fighter, an undefeated slow white heavyweight with limited talent (he was about 8-0 at the time) retired rather than bend to Torres’s demand.

I can tell you the name of the manager, because he is RIP. It was Mike Jones, who co-managed Gerry Cooney with Denis Rappaport, and who manged other fighers like Billy Costello, Tony Santana and Wilford Scypion by himself. I can’t mention the trainer’s name because he’s still around and I promised I’d keep him out of it.. He was concerned Torres could hurt him in some way.

There were also rumors that Torres had hidden ownership in several Hispanic fighters, some of whom were managed by a famous NY City Hispanic restaurant owner. I could never confirm those rumors. But Torres was a regular in this restaurant. I doubt he ever paid a tab.

Yet, when you read about Torres today, after his death, he’s given some sort of reverence he absolutely does not deserve, especially from the Hispanic community. The boxing writers who were around in the mid-to-late 80s know the truth.

The Boxing Writers Fiasco

Posted in boxing, criminals, crooks, FBI, FBI, gangsters, mafia, mobs, Mobsters, New York City, organized crime, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2014 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

The Boxing Writers Fiasco

By Joe Bruno on February 19, 2014

The Boxing Writers Fiasco

The Boxing Writers Fiasco

I was the Vice President of the Boxing Writers Association of America from 1982 to 1986, and a member until 1992. During that period the selection process for the yearly awards was a joke. I have had no connection with the group since 1992. I do not know if this still applies, but if I had to guess, I’d say it does.

In the past, I’ve attacked everything from unscrupulous boxing promoters to incompetent and biased boxing judges (take your pick) to haughty boxing honchos. But now I’m going to give you some insight into the inner workings of the BWAA, an organization that has done nothing for boxing but to give out questionable awards, often to their own members.

The Boxing Writers Association of America (once more properly called the New York Boxing Writers Association) was formed in the middle 1920s, and some of its illustrious early presidents were Nat Fleischer of the “Bible of Boxing” Ring Magazine, and boxing writer Ed Sullivan, who later changed hats and gave black and white TV viewers a “Really big shew” every Sunday night at 8:00 pm. In the late 1970s, I was a wide-eyed neophyte boxing writer doing a full page of boxing every Monday for the News World in New York City. In fact, I was the only full- time boxing writer employed for any daily newspaper in the City of New York. So, I summoned the courage and applied for admittance into the hallowed BWAA.

Unfortunately, I was not met with open arms.

The old fogies in the Boxing Writers Association probably thought if your name is Joe Bruno and you were born and raised in the Mafia territory in Little Italy, I had to be somehow connected to “The Boys.” They had already rid boxing of Frankie Carbo and Blinkie Palermo (two paisans who ran boxing with an iron fist and steel bullets for many years, and went to prison for their troubles). So accepting another vowel-ending member was not on the top of their list of important things to do.

Yet, after careful consideration (and maybe the fear of having their knees broken), I was reluctantly issued my BWAA membership card.

My heart fluttered as I sat down and broke bread with my early sports writing heroes—Red Smith and Dick Young. But I was soon shocked and dismayed to find out that the majority of the members were not boxing writers at all, but in fact public relations people, most working for various boxing promoters throughout the country. Sure, there were crack boxing scribes like Mike Katz, then of the New York Times, and Eddie Schuyler of Associated Press. But the men who carried most of the weight and made all of the decisions were the late Murray Goodman (PR person for Don King), Irving Rudd (Bob Arum), BWAA recording secretary Tommy Kenville (Madison Square Garden), John Condon (Madison Square Garden), Trish McCormick (Madison Square Garden), and independent PR persons-for-hire Rich Rose, Irvin Rosey, Eddie Pitcher, Harold Conrad, Howie Dolgon and Patti Dreyfus. There were more boxing press agents who were also voting members, but their names and faces now escape me.

The secretary-treasurer of the BWAA for as many years as anyone could remember was the intensely disliked Marvin Kohn, whose claim to fame was that he was Sophie Tucker’s press agent sometime in the Roaring Twenties. Kohn was also an influential long-time commissioner at the New York State Athletic Commission, and he used his power there as a lead weight to beat into submission anyone who dared to challenge his clout in the Boxing Writers Association. (As treasurer, Kohn hoarded the organization’s monies accumulated throughout the years, and at every meeting Dick Young demanded an accounting of the funds and was never given one. Young died in 1987, and Kohn died a few years later, and as far as I know, the mystery of the BWAA riches died with him.)

The private interests of the powerful press agents became evident when we held our yearly luncheon to nominate people for our prestigious awards presented at our yearly bigwig BWAA Dinner held in some hallowed hotel in New York City. Nominations were taken for Fighter of the Year, Manager/Trainer of the Year, TV Media Person of the year, Boxing Writer of the Year, and other illustrious awards such as the James J. Walker Award for “long and meritorious service to the sport of boxing.” (Why such an important award was given in the name of a New York Mayor who was so disgraced he resigned from office and fled the country before he was arrested was never explained.)

The procedure for accepting nominations were like this: You raised your hand and named anyone you damn well pleased. That name was immediately accepted into nomination, and when five or six names were compiled, the nomination was closed. Secret ballots were sent out weeks later, and votes were counted, but since some of the press agents did the actual counting, the ballots were hardly secret at all.

I got my first whiff of a possible conflict of interest when Murray Goodman nominated his boss Don King for the James J. Walker Award in 1981. King’s “long and meritorious service to boxing” at that time was a whole five years, but when you were as old as Murray was, I guess you lose track of time.

The following month during the winter holiday season, King threw a holiday extravaganza at a famous New York City nightclub. Invited were certain boxers, trainers and managers, but the main recipients of King’s largesse were the fifty or so member of the Boxing Writers Association of America who would vote for the awards right after the first of the year. The dinner was more lavish than most weddings I’ve attended in New York City. There was an open bar from 6:00 pm to midnight, and the dinner consisted of Prime Ribs and Lobster tails.

But the biggest hint that King wanted bang for his buck was when after the dinner Murray Goodman went around to each member of the BWAA and handed us a gift, saying, “When you vote next month for the James J. Walker Award, don’t forget to vote with your conscience.”

I tugged open the holiday wrappings and came face to face with a huge silver platter with the King’s name and logo stuck smack in the middle. This platter had to cost close to five hundred dollars in 1981 money. I was so shocked by the offering and the innuendo, and I couldn’t figure out what to do with the damn thing anyway, I almost handed the platter back to Murray.

But more on that later.

Then, Murray and King made the rounds of all the boxing writers, and King offered each one of us his personal holiday greetings. By the time he caught up with me, I was wobbling at the bar near midnight banging down my second dozen scotch and sodas with TV sports maven Bill Mazer and New York Post boxing writer Mike Marley.

The “King and I” had our personal problems in the past, so I saw he was somewhat reluctant to shake my hand. But good old Murray, whom I actually loved dearly, basically prodded King into extending me his hand.

King towered over me and said something like “Happy Holidays and thanks for coming.”

I shook hands with the big lug. And after our hands disengaged, I looked up and timidly said, “Don, thanks for inviting me. This is one of the best parties I’ve ever been invited to. And next month when I vote for the James J. Walker Award, I WILL vote with my conscience. I’m voting for Eddie Futch!”

I next saw the same look King must have given poor Samuel Garrett before King stomped him to death on a sidewalk in Cleveland in 1966.

King grimaced, he growled, he gurgled, and then he spat out, “You guinea bastard!”

Murray jumped between us before The King and I went at it, and since I’m pretty good with my hands, and King obviously only with his feet, I had felt real good about my chances.

The next month, Eddie Futch won the James J. Walker Award in a runaway, and that was the last holiday party, not to mention the last silver platter, that to my knowledge, Don King has ever given to the members of the BWAA.

But let’s get back to the silver platter.

I immediately presented the platter to my Aunt Frances, who was given a little puppy for Christmas by her son, my cousin Johnny. Aunt Frances used the silver platter as a feeding dish for her new dog, who she fondly named “King.”

You can’t make up stuff like this.

Joe Bruno is the author of 17 books, including “Mobsters, Gangs, Crooks, and Other Creeps – Volumes 1-5” and “Whitey Bulger – The Biggest Rat.” Joe Bruno’s Amazon Author Page can here seen here. Also visit his blog, “Joe Bruno on the Mob.”

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Joe Bruno’s Article For – Re: Boxing Promoter Don King

Posted in boxing, gangsters, Mobsters, New York City, organized crime, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 14, 2014 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

The King and I

By Joe Bruno on February 14, 2014

 After almost four decades of hearing about Don King’s poor victims in boxing, it’s time to tell about someone who finally got over on the “Electric Hair Wonder” and lived to tell about it. His name is Little Old Me.

In the winter of 1979, I was hired by The News World in New York City (owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who now owns The Washington Times) to do a full page of boxing every week on the News World’s Sport’s Monday section. This daily newspaper only had a circulation of 75,000 a day, a mere pittance compared to the New York Times’ one million a day circulation.

So, the editors of The News World decided to do something the Times would never do to grab part of the Gray Old Lady’s mostly liberal readership, and my boxing page fired their first salvo. At the time, no other daily paper in New York City employed a full-time boxing writer, and the Monday boxing page was an immediate success. So much so, advertisers were lining up to take ads to appear on the boxing page.

Bob Arum placed the first ad, publicizing his new Tuesday Night Boxing fight card on ESPN. Not to be outdone by his arch enemy, Don King decided he wanted a piece of the action too, but I didn’t realize that piece included a piece of me.

King took a ridiculously bold and brazen ad that ran the full top of my boxing page. The ad consisted of a silhouetted drawing of a parade led by a man with tall hair waving the American Flag. The headline over the parade read: “Don King’s American Dream.” And in small letters under the drawing was, “By Joe Bruno.”

I almost swallowed my Underwood when I saw the ad the first week. Although it didn’t explicitly say so, it certainly inferred that I now worked for Don King.

I ran to the publisher of the News World, a Moonie, who before he was publisher used to clean the News World’s toilets, and demanded that the word “advertisement” be placed between the ad and my name, to removed me from any connection to King, other than the fact that he advertised on my page. The publisher agreed, and for one week “advertisement” did appear where I demanded that it did.

The second week all hell broke loose.

The story I heard was King personally called the paper and said he would not pay the second and last installment of his fee for 52 (one year) weekly ads, if the word “advertisement” was not removed immediately. He had paid a reported ten grand up front, and still owed another forty grand to the newspaper. The ad executive (not a Moonie), who sold King the ad, then informed me that if I didn’t like the arrangement he had made with King, I could certainly seek employment elsewhere.

So for the next four weeks, I ate crow, and believe me it did not taste like chicken.

Then King, as per the agreement, coughed up the final forty grand.

I’d love to say it was my idea, but the truth is the great sports columnist Dick Young taught me a way to get even with Don King, who had only four years earlier been released after seven years in jail for manslaughter. (King was later pardoned by outgoing Governor George Rhodes, in an act of government that stunk worse than the Fulton Fish Market).

Dick Young asked me, “Has your paper told you to write only nice things about Don King?”

I said, “No, but let me make sure anyway.”

I went back to the publisher, who was now as happy as a pig in shit because he had fifty grand of King’s cash, and asked point blank, “Can I write anything I want about Don King under Don King’s American Dream?’”

The Moonie bastard said, “Joe, we got King’s money. Write what you want.”

And so I did.

So, for the next three weeks, I dug up every nasty item I could find on King, and believe me there were plenty, and I displayed them for all to see under “Don King’s American Dream.”

I started with items like: “With his fists and his feet, Don King brutally beat Samuel Garrett to death in Cleveland in 1966 because Garrett couldn’t pay King the $500 he owed King on a usurious loan. King spent the next seven years in jail after his conviction for manslaughter.” “King did this. King did that. King screwed this fighter. King screwed that fighter. King……. blah, blah, blah, blah…….”

Well, you get the message, and so did Don King.

“Don King’s American Dream” became “Don King’s Nightmare,” and after three weeks of getting abused under his own ad, King withdrew “Don King’s American Dream” after the ad ran only six weeks, even though King had already paid for an entire 52 weeks.

So, to paraphrase what Claude Rains told Bogart at the end of Casablanca, it became the start of a long and unrewarding relationship for the King and I.

Joe Bruno is the author of 17 books, including “Mobsters, Gangs, Crooks, and Other Creeps – Volumes 1-5” and “Whitey Bulger – The Biggest Rat.” Joe Bruno’s Amazon Author Page can here seen here. Also visit his blog, “Joe Bruno on the Mob.”

Former Boxing Writers Association V.P. Joe Bruno Comments on Concerning the BWA

Posted in boxing, Gangs, gangsters, mobs, Mobsters, New York City, organized crime, police, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2014 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

I wrote the column below for It pertains to my feelings about the Boxing Writers Association, of which I was a member from 1979-90, and the vice president from 1982-1986.

The More Things Change

By Joe Bruno on February 9, 2014

The More Things Change

Joe Bruno awards Marvelous Marvin Hagler the BWAA Fighter of the Year Award in 1985.

I was a member of Boxing Writers Association of America from 1979-90, and I was its Vice President from 1882-1986. The conflict of interest Ted Sares wrote about Tom Hauser is certainly nothing new.

In the early 1980s we had Rich Rose and Irving Rudd as full-time voting members. They both worked for Bob Arum. Then we had Murray Goodman and Bobby Goodman. They worked for Don King. The treasurer was New York State Athletic Commission member Marvin Kohn, and the secretary was Tommy Kenville, who worked for Madison Square Garden.

All of these men mentioned above, except Kohn, who was a publicist before, worked in the public relations department for their bosses.

There were also several other members who were freelance publicists. The famed Harold Conrad comes to mind. If I remember correctly, about half of our 50 odd members actually wrote about the sport of boxing.

I complained constantly that the publicists should not be able to vote for our yearly awards, and certainly should not able to make nominations. I was ignored, and we constantly had men like Goodman and Rudd nominate fighters, whom their bosses promoted, for awards.

And oh yes, I knew Tom Hauser. I found him to be condescending and a person who went out of his way to not be friendly.

So in summation, you’re banging your head against a stone wall trying the make the BWAA an honorable organization. Because of their perpetual conflicts of interest, this is an impossibility.

Like I said up top, the more things changethe more they remain the same.

Joe Bruno is the author of 17 books, including “Mobsters, Gangs, Crooks, and Other Creeps – Volumes 1-5” and “Whitey Bulger – The Biggest Rat.” Joe Bruno’s Amazon Author Page can here seen here. Also visit his blog, “Joe Bruno on the Mob.”


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Convicted Murderer Don King Inducted into Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame

Posted in boxing, criminals, crooks, gangsters, Mobsters, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2013 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

This is a sick joke. What is the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame anyway? One of those places where you pay to get in?

Don King, a convicted murderer, is inducted into this Mickey-Mouse boxing Hall of Fame.

But then again, they also inducted Mike Tyson, who is a convicted rapist.

I’m surprised they didn’t induct Charles Manson too while they were at it.

This is why boxing is a dying sport.

LAS VEGAS — Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Oscar De La Hoya, Larry Holmes and Julio Cesar Chavez head the inaugural class of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.

Promoters Bob Arum and Don King and referee Mills Lane were among the other total of 18 inductees announced at a news conference Wednesday in North Las Vegas.

Mike McCallum and Diego Corrales round out the field of seven boxers along with two trainers, Eddie Futch and Freddie Roach.

Broadcaster Al Bernstein and long-time Las Vegas Review-Journal writer Royce Feour join the first class, with former Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Marc Ratner and longtime commissioner James Nave.

Former commissioner Sig Rogich and billionaire investor Kirk Kerkorian of MGM fame enter as special contributors.

An induction ceremony and dinner is planned sometime next year.