International Best Selling author Joe Bruno’s “The Mysterious Murder of Martha Moxley: Did the Political and Financial Power of the Kennedy/Skakel Families Trump the Truth?” is now on sale for pre-order at

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Joe Bruno on Boxing – Book Review — The Professional by WC Heinz

Posted in Uncategorized on December 1, 2010 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Being a boxing writer myself for many years, I can now totally appreciate it when people told me for years that “The Professional” by W.C. Heinz was the best boxing book ever written and one of the greatest novels of all time. There’s even an introduction by iconic Elmore Leonard, where he credits Heinz as being one of his mentors.

The book, written in 1958, is basically the life in the training camp of a fighter named Eddie Brown, who after a long boxing career, is finally getting a shot at a world’s title. His crusty manager Doc Carroll has been around boxing forever, but Eddie Brown is Doc’s last shot at achieving immortality in a sport Doc so obviously detests. Eddie seems to like everyone and Doc trusts no one, which makes for some interesting discourses concerning the inner workings of a sport that has been run by crooks and thieves since the start of the 20th Century.

The book is written from the third person view point of sportswriter Frank Hughes, who accompanies Eddie to training camp, trying to grasp the essence of a boxer’s life while he’s preparing for the biggest moment in his life. Frank is no more than a fly on the wall, trying to help out Eddie and Doc, but at the same time keeping a detachment that will make his magazine article impartial and true.

The professional is a must read for boxing fans, but those who don’t really care for the sport can enjoy this book too, firm in the knowledge that W.C. Heinz is right on the mark with his observations about a slimy sport that has not changed much from when this book was written 52 years ago.

Book Review – Knockout the Sexy, Violent, Extraordinary Life of Vikki LaMotta

Posted in Uncategorized on December 1, 2010 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Right off the bat, I must say I was prejudiced against this book being published in the first place.

In the mid 1980’s, Vikki LaMotta, who was a good friend of mine, asked me if I would write her biography. I was busy working on a novel at the time, and told her I wouldn’t be able to do it. She then asked me if I knew Tom Hauser. I replied I knew him slightly since we were both members of the Boxing Writers Association. I said, although I never read any of his writings, he had a good reputation in the business. I advised her to hire a lawyer to handle the contract to write the book. She told me she did and that she had final say as to if the book would be published.

We had dinner together a couple of times a month, and she told me she had started working with Hauser on the book, mostly in her apartment in Battery Park City in downtown Manhattan. When the first draft of the book was finished, she was not happy with how the book turned out, and she killed the project. To the best of my recollection, this was in 1987, or possibly 1988.

In 2005, Vikkie LaMotta died after undergoing heart surgery, and with the permission of her surviving relatives, the book was released in 2009. Of course I had to buy it, to see if it did justice to a woman who was a good friend of mine for a decade.

Through no fault of Hauser, who is a fine writer, to me the book falls flat. She is never as interesting in the book as she was in real life.

But like I said up top, this was probably a story that was better left untold anyway.

Just my opinion.

Joe Bruno on the Mob – The Dead Rabbits Irish Street Gang

Posted in Uncategorized on November 12, 2010 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Joe Bruno on the Mob – The Dead Rabbits

The Dead Rabbits Irish Street gang, of the middle of the 19th Century, was as vicious as any gang in the history of New York City. They ruled the squalid area of Lower Manhattan called the Five Points, and if a member of any other gang dare set foot in their territory, bad things happened to them very fast.

There is some dispute as to how the Dead Rabbits got their name. One version is that the word “Rabbit” sounds like Irish word ráibéad, meaning a “man to be feared.” “Dead” was a 1800’s slang word that meant “very.” So a “Dead Rabbit” is a “man to be very feared.”

Another version is that the Dead Rabbits were an offshoot of a older gang called the “Roach Guards.” Two factions within the Roach Guards constantly quarreled, and during a fistfight at an especially violent gang meeting, someone threw a dead rabbit into the room. When the fighting subsided, one group took the name “Dead Rabbits,” while the other kept the name “Roach Guards.” Predating the present street gangs the Crips and the Bloods by more than a 125 years, to mark which group a man belonged to, a Dead Rabbit wore a blue stripe on his pants, while a Roach Guard wore a red stripe on his pants.

Besides the Roach Guards, the Dead Rabbits’ arch enemy was the Bowery Boys. On July 4th, 1857, the Dead Rabbits and the Bowery Boys squared off at the corner of Bayard and the Bowery. The incident started, when a embattled policemen, being chased out of the Five Points by a group of Dead Rabbits, ran into a Bowery Boy’s saloon. The Dead Rabbits followed the policeman into the dive, and were beaten back by an angry group of Bowery Boys.

The Bowery Boys took offense at their turf being invaded, so a large group of Bowery Boys marched into the Five Points area. They were cut off by a battalion of Dead Rabbits and a two-day war started, with as many as a thousand combatants fighting with hatchets, knives, stones, and even guns. The police sent in reinforcements, but they were beaten back by both gangs and told in no uncertain terms to mind their own business. The war swayed back and forth into both territories, with Canal Street being the boundary line.

By the end of the second day, the two gangs were near exhaustion, and the Seventh Regiment of the National Guard was called in by New York Mayor Fernando Wood. The National Guard, joined by the New York City Police, busted into what was left of the skirmish and started cracking the heads of the weary warriors. When the dust settled, eight gang members were dead and hundreds more were injured.

This did not end the animosity between the Bowery Boys and Dead Rabbits. In August, 1858, on the corner of Worth and Centre Street, a small group of Bowery Boys were pummeled by a larger group of Dead Rabbits. As the Bowery Boys ran off licking their wounds, two unsuspecting men exited a house at 66 Centre Street. They walked right into the path of the angry Dead Rabbits, and thinking these two men were Bowery Boys coming back for more, the Dead Rabbits descended upon them with a vengeance. One man was able to escape, but Cornelius Rady was not so lucky. He was hit in the back of the head with a rock from a slingshot and died soon afterwards. Dead Rabbit Patrick Gilligan was arrested for Rady’s murder, but it is not clear if indeed he was convicted.

The Civil War started two years later and many of the gang members were drafted, against their wills, into the war and sent to far away places, mostly in the South. When the war ended, the Dead Rabbits were either dead themselves, or in no physical condition to continue tormenting the streets of Lower Manhattan. But in New York City, the creature that it was, and in some cases still is, other street gangs soon followed to take the place of the Dead Rabbits.

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Posted in Uncategorized on November 9, 2010 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Joe Bruno on Boxing — Boycott Pay-Per-View

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2010 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

Okay wiseguys, so you say how can someone make a comeback if you never heard of him in the first place. Well, stick around and I’ll give you the grand tour.
No, I’m not that Joe Bruno, the esteemed Republican senator from upstate New York who’s trying to end rent control as we presently know it in New York State. Love the guy. Wish we were related. But it was not meant to be.
No, I’m not that Joe Bruno, the former fire commissioner of New York City, who’s now a judge in New York and not doing so well, I hear. Seems he let a guy go out on low bail recently, and the nut killed someone, but hey, no one’s perfect. Thank God I’m not him either.
This Joe Bruno was a boxing judge in New York State in 1979, and I had the misfortune of being one of the judges the night Willie Classen was killed by Wilford Scypion with two right hands to the head at the start of the tenth round. Eva Shain was the other judge, and Lew Eskin was the referee. I wrote the cover story for Ring Magazine on that fight, and within three months I had my own boxing column (with my cute little picture on top) with the News World, (later called the New York Tribune), a small daily newspaper in New York city. I did five boxing columns a week, three on one entire page every Monday. (My column was also duplicated in Spanish for our sister paper Noticias Del Mundo)
At the time, I was the only sportswriter working for a daily newspaper in New York City who did a regular boxing column. To wit: Mike Marley had stopped his boxing column at the time for the New York Post, and started up again afterward. Mike Katz was then with the New York Times (now he’s with the Daily News), and while he covered boxing, he did no columns, (God forbid a boxing column in the Times, that liberal rag which has called for the abolition of boxing more times than Bill Clinton has dropped his trousers in hotel rooms). And Wally Matthews had not yet started working for the now defunct New York Newsday. (Matthews has since moved to the Post, and may be the best boxing writer in America, that is, until Joe Bruno’s return)
Cynics may say I was working for a conservative piece of garbage that was owned by the Reverend Sun Yung Moon. And I say, the Moon guy paid good money, didn’t try to convert me, didn’t force me to marry a woman I never met, and I didn’t have to sell too many flowers at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel either. So there.
I also did a monthly column for that eccentric icon Bert Randolph Sugar at Boxing Illustrated from 1980-85, and my work also appeared in Boxing Today, Inside Boxing, and Penthouse Magazine. (Yes, I kept my clothes on). In 1986 and 1987, I wrote a twice-a-week boxing column for the Times Herald Record in Middletown, New York. Most recently I did two pieces for International Boxing Digest for my old friend Herb Goldman; an interview with Teddy Atlas, and the story surrounding Tommy Morrison’s revelation he had AIDS.
I was elected the vice president of the Boxing Writers Association from 1981-85, and I helped found the International Boxing Writers Association, along with Marc Maturo of the Gannett Newspapers, of Rockland County in New York. Marc was the president. I was the vice president. We folded four years later because Marc had the audacity to get married. Shit happens.
So why am I back?
Flashback to the movie Network , where Peter Finch yells out the window, and says to the world, “I’m sick and tired, and I’m not going to take it anymore.”
Well brother, now that now goes for me too. In spades. This former scribe is sick and tired of boxing fans all around the world being duped into parting with their hard earned cash in order to support the mighty monstrosity called Pay-Per-View. And now I’m going to do something about it. For the first time in my life, I’m writing about boxing, and not getting paid for it, so you better believe that I sincerely believe in what I’m preaching.
This Pay-Per-View horror has got to stop, and the only people who can stop it is you. This is the perfect case where the victims themselves can choose not to be a victim any more.
Face it fools, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. So smarten up. Starting right now.
I’m sure everyone here has received notification in the mail saying they are the “Big Sweepstakes Winner!!!” of one stupid promotion, or another. How many of you have actually made any money filling out those ridiculous forms? Those with their hands up, may be excused to go directly to the bathroom.
Well, right in this space, I’m offering you the means to put your hard-earned cash back into your pocket, and more importantly, how to keep it there. Money that people like you were free to spend as they saw fit, before their homes were conspiratorially wired with that little black box that brings you Pay-Per-Fucking-View. (Ladies, please excuse the words Pay-Per-View).
As recently as the 1980’s, big fights that are now shown on Pay-Per-View were either shown on free TV, or on such cable networks as ESPN, USA, and for special occasions, on additional pay tier channels like HBO and Showtime. When I covered the Larry Holmes-Renaldo Snipes heavyweight championship in Pittsburgh in the early 1980’s, the fight was showed free on ABC television. Most of Muhammad Ali’s title fights in the 1970’s, such as ones against Richard Dunn, and Karl Mildenburger were also shown on free TV. Sure, they were stiff fights, but they were free stiff fights. When Ali lost his first fight to Ken Norton, that fight was on free TV, as well as both of Ali’s fights against Leon Spinks. Only blockbusters like Ali-Frazier and Ali-Foreman were shown on closed-circuit TV’s at arenas, and movie houses across the nation.
The closed circuit excursions of the 1970’s galled me a hell of a lot less than the 1990’s Pay-Per-View robberies, because at twenty five 1970’s dollars a pop, it was a fun night out with the boys. Not just stupid old you, sitting home alone like that MaCaully Culkin kid in the movies, praying you get a competitive fight for up to fifty bucks a shot.
First, lets examine some recent Pay-Per-View flops, that left paying boxing fans crying their stolen eyes out. Starting with the worst, first:
1. Mike Tyson’s get-out-of-jail first fight special against Peter McNeeley— NcNeeley went down less than a minute into the fight from either a left hook, a stiff breeze, or a hard stare from Tyson. Then, as McNeeley was just starting to fight back, his manager (partner-in-crime?) Vinnie Vecchione jumped into the ring and stopped the fight for a Pizza Hut Pizza. Of course, no refunds.
2. Tyson-Buster Mathis Jr.–Tyson had the good sense to carry the fat stiff for three rounds, and the first mean punch Tyson threw, Mathis went down like a beached whale. Still no refunds.
3. Tyson- Frank (No Relation) Bruno–Bruno, maybe the least talented heavyweight champion of all time (what do you want? He’s British), looked as frightened as Tyson’s first date after Iron Mike got out of jail for rape. Whenever Tyson got in close, Bruno hugged him like he wanted to waltz, and quite possibly kiss him too. Finally, Bruno went down from a barrage of punches, half of which had completely missed their terrified mark. Don King still kept your money.
4. Sugar Ray Leonard-Hector Camacho- This fight was a robbery of a different color. Not only did Leonard put up little resistance to the light-hitting Camacho, he admitted after the fight, he should not have never been in the ring in the first place, due to an injured calf. Hell, a real injured calf on the way to the slaughterhouse would’ve hit Camacho with more meaningful punches than Leonard did. So after admitting he bilked the public at $39.95 a pop, Sugar Ray still kept your cash.
And who are the beneficiaries of that treacherous little black box called Pay-Per-View?
1. Don King, a twice convicted of felonies he was later pardoned for, who has a bad hair day every freeking day.
2. Bob Arum , a sleazy Harvard bred lawyer (need I say more about Bullshit Bob?), who once said to sportswriter Bob Water of Newsday, “Yesterday I was lying. Today I’m telling the truth.”
3. Butch Lewis, a tuxedo without a shirt, who formerly sold used cars, and recycled teeth to the Spinx Brothers.
4. The Duva clan, who’s patriarch Lou looks like a reject from a Deputy Dog cartoon (Okay, they’re Italian, so I’m giving give them a break).
5. Donald Trump, whose hardcover book Art of the Deal, was recently seen selling at a chain bookstore for fifty cents, and still saw no takers. Conversely, Marla was selling for a few bucks more, and the line was out the door. (Only kidding, The Donald).
6. All the casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, who have been robbing your money for years, without pay-per-view.
Well people, it is time to smarten up, and I’m going to show you how.
First of all, stop envisioning every Pay-Per-View fight as something you must see, or you’re totally uncool, and start looking at it as a investment of your time, and more importantly, your hard-earned cash. When I wrote my boxing columns for the New York Tribune in the early 1980’s, on the day of a Pay-Per-View fight I deemed unworthy, I wrote a list of alternative things to do the night of the fight. So, I’ll try this tricky tactic again.
Listed below are much wiser expenditures for your hard earned cash rather than wasting it on unworthy Pay-Per-View fights:
1. Take your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, or whatever out to dinner—For fifty dollars, you can eat a damn good meal, and have a better chance of getting lucky, than if you flipped the coin on a Tyson-versus nobody Pay-Per-View fight being competitive.
2. Go see a good movie— Wouldn’t you rather see New York City crumble in Independence Day, rather than Peter McNeeley fumbling on the canvas for a slice of pizza?
3. Read a good book—-All right, I’m stretching it here, but I’m sure you’d get more thrills reading “Underboss–The Life of Sammy The Bull Gravano in the Mafia” than you would from seeing a bad imitation of Sugar Ray Leonard stumble around the ring against a chubby un-Macho Camacho.
4. Watch free television instead—Come on, seeing Seinfeld, Frazier, Friends, or even 3rd Rock From the Sun has got to be more fun that seeing Pernell Whitaker bob, weave, boogaloo, make a near mockery of the sport, and then claim he was obviously robbed by the three Las Vegas judges. Puh-leez!.
5. And Finally—Put the fifty dollars you’re tempted to spend on Pey-Per-View under your pillow. Then chill out and go to sleep. The next morning, remove the fifty bucks and put it back in your wallet. Then read the newspaper coverage of the fight from people who are paid to suffer through monstrosities like the Lennox Lewis- Oliver McCall fiasco.
Besides saving yourself some cash, you’ll accomplish one more important objective by refusing to buy any more pay fights on your home TV. When enough people band together and just say NO to Pay-Per-View, they will finally force the robber baron promoters to consider other venues to exhibit their fights. When the Pay-Per-View cash cow is slaughtered by prudent boxing consumers, weasels like Don King and Bullshit Bob Arum will revert back to putting these fights on HBO, Showtime, ESPN, USA Network, and maybe even one day, back on free TV.
If you wish, you can invest the money you save in your local club fights, where the poor promoters traditionally take a bath in order to develop, and showcase new pugilistic talent.
The choice, boxing fans, is up to you. You can be the mighty Hammer of Thor, or the lowly nail, destined to be smashed into oblivion and the poorhouse.
If you refuse to do as I suggest, you might as well drop your drawers, bend over, and take what you most decidedly deserve from Don King and his criminal cohorts.
And boxing fans, they don’t even use Vaseline.

Joe Bruno on Boxing — Why Nobody Wants Honest Boxing Ratings

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2010 by Joe Bruno's Blogs

By Joe Bruno

Former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association

Watch out, corrupt boxing organizations, there’s a new kid on the block, and this kid seems to know what he’s doing.The new kid is the World Boxing League, and the WBL is seeking corporate sponsorship, in the same manner NASCAR has successfully operated in the past. (The NASCAR Winston Cup Series is an example) The WBL is the brainchild of the dynamic duo of Fred Levin and Terdema Ussery, who have worked together on the marketing of world light heavyweight champion Roy Jones for Nike.  Now Levin and Ussery have targeted Nike as the sponsor for their fledging sanctioning body, and you know what folks, this just might work.

The WBL plans to be a sanctioning body consisting of a corporation whose stockholders will be major figures in the world of business and sports. The WBL will operate in the same manner as professional baseball, basketball and football leagues. A commissioner will oversee professional boxing, and the WBL claims it will recruit the best people to govern boxing officials, establish rules and promote the sport throughout the media. Now here’s the part that I like. The WBL says it will contract the rankings to an independent ranking board and will be allowed no influence on the rankings. The ranking board will consist mainly of independent, knowledgeable sports media figures. It will operate much as the panel of sportswriters which determines the Associated Press college football rankings.This strategy has been tried before. I know. I was an integral part of it.

In 1981, there was two distinct Boxing Writers Groups; The Boxing Writers Association and the International Boxing Writers Association. I was the vice president of both. The Boxing Writers Association consisted almost entirely of New York city based boxing writers and former New York city boxing writers, who were then involved in public relations for various promoters. All members, even the press agents, were voting members, and the group voted each year for such boxing awards as Fighter of the Year, Manager of the Year, the James J. Walker Award—For Long and Meritorious Service to Boxing, etc. etc.  The conflicts of interest caused by press agents pushing their bosses’ fighters, and even their bosses themselves,  for various awards were obviously and brazenly undertaken. One year the late Murray Goodman, one of the nicest men ever in the business,  outwardly pushed his boss Don King for the Walker Award. Hey, even old Murray’s had bills to pay. Then Marc Maturo, a boxing writer for the Gannett papers in Westchester, started the International Boxing Writers Association. Marc actively recruited boxing writers from around the world to join this new group, and Marc’s main purpose for forming the group was to create the world’s first and only honest ratings system in the eight major weight classes. Certain members of the Boxing Writers joined the International Boxing Writers, but the old group treated the new group as treacherous traitors. I mean, who were we to actually think we could better the sports of boxing. I was told by staunch members of the old group that boxing writers exist only to report the news, not create news itself. Well excuse me.

Marc recruited Mike Katz, then of the New York Times, and Steve Farhood then of of KO Magazine to be the ratings chairmen. The ratings committee consisted of 30 boxing writers from around the world. We had voting members from such far away places as Japan, Australia,  Germany, England, Italy and France. The fighters were rated from one to ten; number one getting ten points and number ten getting one point. You get the idea Folks, this was 1981. There was no Internet and fax machines were far and few in between. So the ratings were done by mail, and by telephone where possible.

On the first of every month, the ratings came out and were published by the Associated Press Wire Services. They were  made available to every newspaper in the country that subscribed to the AP Wire Service. The problem was nobody cared, and almost nobody in the boxing world wanted honest ratings anyway. I’ll cite two examples: The International Boxing Federation, run by Bob Lee, held it’s first  annual convention in 1982. Promoters Dan Duva of Main Events and Mickey Duff  from England liked our ratings system so much, they pushed Bob Lee to use our ratings, thus giving his new organization some much-needed credibility. Guess what? Lee told us thanks, but no thanks. Lee said he had his own ratings committee. Right then I knew something was rotten in the IBF. The recent investigations of the IBF seventeen years later are centered on Lee’s  IBF ratings system. No surprise here.
The second incident involved HBO, and it’s weasel president, the Truman Capote-sounding Seth “The Shrimp” Abraham. Marc Maturo and I arranged for an appointment (an audience?) with Abraham in his offices overlooking Central Park. We were ushered into Abraham’s office, and Marc got down to pitching out ratings system. Before Marc got two sentences out of his mouth, Abraham excused himself and left the room. Minutes later, an HBO flunky came in and told us to vacate the premises immediately. We were told that Abraham thought the purpose of the meeting was to do a puff piece on his highness, and not to pitch our stupid ratings. This punk Abraham didn’t have the nerve to throw us out of his office himself.

So there you have it. We produced an honest ratings system for boxing, and we were treated like we had leprosy. The International Boxing Writers folded soon afterward. We were beaten to our knees by the big boys who knew the real score.

That reminds me of the time I interviewed the great Willie Pep in Madison Square Garden. The New York Boxing Commission was experimenting with the new thumb-less boxing gloves, created to decrease eye injuries. I asked Pep, “Willie, what do you think of the new thumb-less gloves?” Willie said, “They stink.” I said, “Why?” Willie said, “Because you can’t THUMB anyone.”Same thing with honest boxing ratings. If you have honest ratings, then you can’t cheat.
Not cheat in boxing? Fuhgeddaboudit.
Getting back to the newly launched World Boxing League. The whole idea of the WBL depends completely on establishing a ratings system beyond  reproach. If Levin and Ussery produce that ratings system, they’ve got a damn  good chance of knocking the WBA, the WBC, the IBF, the WBO and all the other alphabet cheats right out of the box, and off the boxing map. Good luck guys.  I’ll believe it when I see it.