Archive for November, 2010

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

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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.

Joe Bruno on Boxing – Muhammad Ali is Not a Hero.

Posted in Uncategorized on November 6, 2010 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.

It is with a sad 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 reserved. 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.

Photo Joe Bruno- Muhammad Ali 1985.

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Joe Bruno on Boxing — Why the Boxing Writer Awards Are Meaningless

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

Joe Bruno on Boxing

By Joe Bruno—Former Vice President of the New York Boxing Writers
Association and the International Boxing Writers Association

News Item: New York Boxing Writers Announce their yearly awards.
Although they now bill themselves as the Boxing Writers of America, in early January the New York Boxing Writers did one of the two things they actually do to justify their existence (besides bending their elbows at wet luncheons), when they announced their yearly boxing awards.
Now let’s examine the dubious voting process, that somehow awarded Lennox “The Lummox” Lewis the 1999 Fighter of the Year. Lewis had two fights in 1999, both lackluster bouts with ancient and ring-worn Evander Holyfield. In the first Holyfield fight, Lewis was robbed by blind-judge officials, especially one Eugenia Williams, and their waltz was declared a draw. In the second fight, which many at ringside thought Holyfield had won (the ringside press were 3-1 in favor of Holyfield), Lewis won an uninspired 12-round unanimous decision. For this Lewis wins the NY Boxing Writers Fighter of the Year Award. How can that be? Well, if you look closely, there’s a reason, no matter how dubious and contrived.
Being a member of the New York Boxing Writers from 1979-1991, I attended many NY Boxing Writer luncheons, where the nominations were taken for their various awards. Of the 60 odd members of the NY Boxing Writers, approximately half are public relations people who work for various promoters, or television networks like HBO and Showtime, who are in the business of robbing the paying public by showcasing dreadful fight cards at $49.99 a pop. Some of the PR people are staff. Others are freelance. But they all stuff their pockets with the boxing public’s hard earned cash, that trickles down through the dirty paws of fascists like Seth “The Shrimp” Abraham of HBO, Bob “Bullspit” Arum and Dung King
After chomping down a roast beef lunch, and quaffing more than a few cocktails, the members of the NY Boxing Writers are then asked to nominate someone for each award. In almost every case, the nomination is put forth by a PR person interested in furthering the career of a fighter, manager, or trainer, his, or her boss, has a vested interest in, and sometimes even the boss promoter himself. Only one second is needed to place this nominee’s name on the ballot.
In 1982, it got so darn ridiculous, Murray Goodman, then Dung King’s chief flack, nominated the Dungster himself for the James J. Walker Award for Long and Meritorious Service in Boxing. At that time, King had been meritoriously serving boxing, and mostly his own bank accounts, for the sum total of five years. James J. Walker, you may remember, was the notorious former Mayor of New York City, who resigned his office in disgrace, after being caught with his felonious hand in the till. So maybe Dung King winning an award named after a famous crook wasn’t such a bad idea after all. Still, in 1982, Eddie Futch won the James J. Walker Award in a landslide victory of good versus hairy evil.
After six nominees are selected for each award, the luncheon comes to an end, and the real drinking begins, at the expense of the NY Boxing Writer’s checking account, of course. Sportswriters in general, and boxing writers in particular, are notorious freeloaders, and extremely tight tippers to the restaurant staff to boot.
I once raised the ire of an old time scribe at a NY Boxing Writers luncheon, by having the audacity to tip the bartender/waiter a ten spot, after I had imbibed about half a dozen Bloody Marys, several beers and a roast beef lunch. Foolishly, I thought it was the decent thing to do.
“Don’t spoil it for the rest of us,” I was chided, by this relic with a red nose, who had obviously had never worked for tips.
So after the luncheon is over, the secretary of the NY Boxing Writers, the truly lovable Tommy Kenville, for as long as I can remember, puts the nominations into an envelope and mails them out to all the members, even to the PR flunkies who work for the greedy promoters. The members then scribble in their votes, and a few weeks later, the president and vice president of the NY Boxing Writers, along with Kenville as the scorekeeper, tally up the votes.
Being the vice president from 1982-86, I was present at several of the vote counting sessions. I once saw the President Barney Nagler take one of the ballots he emphatically disagreed with, tear it up into little pieces and dump them into the trash. So much for one person, one vote. (This same dwarfish despot, as I was reading the first page of my four-page speech to present Tommy Kenville with the Walker Award in 1985, behind my back, tore up the remaining three pages of my speech, and I was forced with a red face to stammer, “And without further ado, I present you Tommy Kenville.)
So now you understand how the system works, and why we can never take the NY Boxing Writer’s awards, or their awards dinner seriously until the rules are changed to allow only real boxing writers to vote for the awards. But since more than half the present voting group are PR people, that has about as much of a chance of happening as Don King and Bob Arum going shopping for silverware together.
What an amusing thought. I wonder who would wear the tight skirt?

Joe Bruno on Boxing — The Disgrace of Tony Ayala

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

News Flash!!! Convicted rapist returns to the ring.
In 2000, Tony Ayala Jr., one of the most despicable human beings I’ve ever met in the sport of boxing (and that’s saying something) made his return to the ring after spending sixteen years in the slammer for his second rape conviction.
“El Torito” (Baby Bull) stopped an outclassed Manuel Esparaza in the third round of their scheduled middleweight bout.  Ayala showed some of the punching power that made him one of the feared fighters of the early 1980s before he was sentenced to 35 years in prison for the rape of a New Jersey woman. Ayala also showed plenty of ring rust against an opponent who lost his last fight on a sixth-round knockout, and would have had no business being in the ring with an Ayala in his prime.
“It felt like the old days,” Ayala said. “I can’t tell you how much this meant to me.”
I hope he meant “the old days” boxing in the ring, and not when he was terrorizing helpless young women.
Any sportswriter who spent any time around Tony Ayala Sr. and his brood in the early 1980’s felt like he was hanging with Ma Barker and her gang.
Tony’s old man, Tony Sr., was hardly a positive role model for his troubled sons. Oldest son Mike, a world ranked featherweight, battled drugs throughout his career. Mike also had constant battles with his father, and sometimes it got downright nasty.
In 1980, Mike won a decision at the Felt Forum in Madison Square Garden. When I interviewed Mike after the fight, he asked me if I was going to Totowa’s Ice World the following week to see his younger brother Tony fight the main event. I said yes, and Mike told me, “When you see my father tell him I said hi, and tell him I’m sorry.”
A few days later, Tony Jr. won on an easy first round knockout over some Joe Schmoe for the Duvas out in Totowa, New Jersey. I did a quick interview with father and son, then I turned to Tony Sr. and told him what Mike had said.
Tony Sr. turned on me with angry eyes and screamed, “Tell my son Mike he can–” And I can’t say what he said next.
Tony Jr. was standing right next to good old dad as the father continued his profane verbal assault against older brother Mike.
Tony Jr. was first arrested for sexual assault when he was only fifteen years old. He attacked a young girl in the ladies room of a drive-in theater in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas. Ayala raped the poor girl, then roughed her up a bit. But because Tony Jr. was good with his fists, and had a promising pro boxing career, he somehow got off with only a slight slap on the wrists.
No prison time included.
Tony Jr. signed with the Duvas, and by 1982, he was one of the top junior middleweights in the world. This teenage snake was so vicious in the ring, he once spat at a fallen opponent named Robbie Epps.
Then Tony Jr. decided it was time to get down and dirty again.
Ayala was arrested for raping a young woman in her own bedroom in rural New Jersey. No slap on the wrist for El Torito ( El Disgratciata) this time. Thirty five years to life. But with the new math applied to his sentence, that somehow translated out to be only sixteen years in the can.
Ayala Jr. did his time, and like any citizen of the good old US of A, he is entitled to resume his wretched life outside prison walls.
Still, there’s something obscene about this two-time rapist making $200,000 in his first fight in almost two decades against such inferior competition. And on pay-per-view to boot.
What disturbs me most is that not one woman’s rights group picketed Ayala’s first fight back, like they did at Tyson’s when he fought for the first time after his rape conviction. In fact, before Ayala’s fight, two middle-aged woman carried a large banner around the ring that read “Hispanic Women For Better Justice support Torito.” These misguided morons even threw a brunch in Ayala’s honor the following day on the campus of San Antonio State College.
Better justice for whom? Certainly not for the hundreds of women who are raped and beaten annually in this country.
This sickening display of misplaced loyalties makes me want to puke. Sorry, but I just can’t help but wanting only bad things to happen to Tony Ayala Jr. in the future. Maybe soon El Torito (El Disgratciata) will be on the short end of someone else’s fiendish fury.
Then justice might finally be served.

As an addendum to the Ayala story, one of Ayala’s new advisors is the infamous, roguish, never to be trusted, but hard to dislike Don Elbaum. Elbaum has the reputation that if you shake hands with him, you better count your fingers quick.
One of the best Elbaum stories concerns a benefit dinner he once threw for the legendary Sugar Ray Robinson. At the night’s end, Elbaum stood at the podium, and with tears in his eyes he presented Sugar Ray with a set of old boxing gloves, ones Elbaum claimed were the very gloves Sugar Ray wore in this first pro fight four decades earlier. Sugar Ray graciously accepted the gloves, then suddenly noticed they were two right gloves.
Elbaum just smiled and shrugged his shoulders.
Typical.