Around the Island

About boxing and beyond

Here comes a big one-two punch. But this is a one-two punch to be enjoyed by all, since it’s coming from Jeffrey Sussman, described in the Huffington Post as “the strongest boxing author alive.”

His latest book on boxing,“Boxing and the Mob: The Notorious History of the Sweet Science,” is “the first book to cover a century of fixed fights, paid referees, greedy managers, misused boxers and mobsters who controlled it all,” according to Good Reads.

When asked where and how he learned that boxing was fixed, Sussman replied, “When I was 13 in the 1950’s, I recall my father saying: ‘Gambling is a sucker’s game. Betting on a fixed fight is never a gamble.’”

Why? Because boxing is easy to rig. There are only two athletes, and one or both may be induced to accept a bribe. Not like an entire baseball team.

In “Boxing and the Mob,” Sussman profiles some of boxing’s most infamous characters, the likes of Frank “Blinky” Palermo, a member of the Cosa Nostra, and Frankie Carbo, a member of the New York Lucchese crime family. 

Carbo and Palermo were behind the fixed fight between Jake La Motta and Billy Fox, which was dramatized in the Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro 1980 film, “Raging Bull.”

Palermo and Carbo were also behind the famous fights between Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali. The FBI investigated, and while it never came up with definitive proof that one or both of those fights were fixed, many of the investigators thought they were.

And for those of you who have never understood the appeal of boxing, Sussman explains its appeal this way: “First, boxing has been around forever. It was part of the Olympics in ancient Greece. And second, one is watching only two people testing themselves. No teammates are there to help or defend the boxer. Each man (and now some women) is testing him or herself alone.”

And from where Jeffrey Sussman sits, there’s something in boxing that will stir passion in anyone and everyone.

All the more reason to come hear him at the Friday Night Dialogue at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 5, 2019 at the Shelter Island Library. 

Up Next: On Friday, July 12, the library will welcome renowned author David Browne to discuss his latest book, “Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young: The Wild, Definitive Saga of Rock’s Greatest Supergroup.”