At The Ringside, Daily Racing Form, 1959-05-06


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ATTHERINGSIDE by B°r»*Y *«»«■ NEW YORK, May 5. — Poor Sugar Ray Robinson, he is being put upon on all sides. First his psyche is bruised by the National B o x i ng Associations decision to strip him of the world middleweight c h a m p i onship. Now along comes Madison Square Garden with a demeaning offer of a minimum purse of 00,000 to fight Carmen Basilio in defense of a title he now owns only in New York state. Details of the Gardens offer, withheld until Robinson angrily denounced the Gardens boxing complex as "The same old gang with Jim Norris," came to light in corporate self-defense. By its terms, Robinson not only would be guaranteed half a million dollars, but would take down 50 per cent of all receipts, both at the gate and from closed-circuit television, above 00,000 net. This lush deal was proposed to Robinson, in the same Harlem office where he put the rap on the Garden Monday evening, some days before the NBA implemented its threat to dethrone Robinson. Had Sugar Ray signified his intention to accept the offer, he would not stand today bare of his toga, a forlorn figure who also faces loss of his purple pants in New York state by a week from this Friday. AAA Robinsons royal status hangs by a legal thread here. On April 30, Supreme Court Justice Saul Streit supported the New York Athletic Commissions order to Robinson to sign for a defense promptly or suffer being run out of the place on a rail. He was given until May 15 to comply. Into this vacuum stepped the NBA to say Robinson is not a champion any long er. Set up to fill the throne was a two-fight program: Basilio to fight another former titleholder, Gene Fullmer, with the winner pledged to defend the championship within 90 days against Spider Webb, the Chicagoan. Robinsons difficulties stem from his failure to engage in a championship fight since March 25, 1958, the night he regained the 160-pound leadership for the fourth time by beating Basilio to the wire in Chicago Stadium. It has been a folk custom of boxing commissions everywhere to carry on their books a regulation requiring champions to make a defense at least once within a six-month period. Honored in the breach, this quaint rule comes up every now and then to plague one title holder or another. It has had the consistency of gelatine. Robinson himself once profited by it. When Marty Servo was welterweight champion, in 1956, he was prodded by the New York board to comply with the six-month timetable. He would not sign to fight Robinson and finally resigned as champion be cause of a tender nose. Robinson fought Tommy Bell and won the 147-pound title. AAA The other day, six hours after the NBA pulled the broadloom from under the champion, Robinson sat in a leather easy chair in his dimly-lit office in Harlem and said, "I waited six years to fight for the welterweight title and when I got the chance I fought for 10 per cent." He was a martyr in white start, bold cravat touched by red, dark trousers and a sneer. He was asserting his right of free speech. Once, in haste, he said he was a victim of "segregation." He caught himself and substituted "discrimination" for "segregation." He said, "Might will never make right. Theyll miss me when I get out. They have nobody in boxing to replace me. I dont have to fight. Nobody misses a well when it runs dry. I havent done a bad thing in boxing. If I did all the things people asked me to do I could be a millionaire. The inference drawn from the last sen- Continued on Page Twe/ve AT THE RINGSIDE I By BARNEY NAGLER Continued from Page Two tence was that he had been offered large sums of dirty money to do dirty things in the game. "You didnt understand what he said," said George Gainford, Sugar Rays big brother. "How about the offer of 50,000 youre supposed to have to fight Basilio?" a fellow asked Sugar Ray. "I might ask a million," he said. "If they make three or four million, cant I ask for one? My end of the first Basilio fight was 14,000." This sum was paid to him by the International Boxing Club, the monopolistic dragon since slain by Federal Court order. It is Robinsons contention that the IBC exists in fact if not in name and that the NBA took away his championship only because it plays ball with Norris, now head of the National Boxing Enterprises, Inc., which runs the TV game Wednesday nights. "I cant fight Norris and politics," Robinson said. "The same old gang is running boxing." "Does that include the Garden?" an inquisitor suggested. "Well, arent the same people around? Truman Gibson is still with the Chicago bunch and he told me if I didnt play ball with him, Id be caused a lot of trouble." Robinson and/or his lawyer, Martin Machat, invoked patriotism, citizenship, virtue and motherhood in support of the notion that Sugar Ray had been victimized by the plotters. "I dont have to fight," the fighter said. "I have other ways of making a living." "Then you are retired?" a voice said in the half-light. "He didnt say that," said Gainford. "We might fight in Europe. Weve got an offer to fight Gustave Scholz in Berlin." The New York board had refused to accept Scholz as an authentic challenger. "Thats discrimination," Robinson said. "Hes a good fighter, and hes among the first 10 in the middleweight ratings. I always thought a champion could defend against anybody in the first 10. Its different, sure, in my case." One of Robinsons guests looked around and said, "guess thats all." Sugar Ray said, "guess so." The visitors walked out into Seventh Avenue. The early evening light seemed bright after the semi-darkness of the throne room. Yet everybody was still in the dark.

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