WAS Cassius’s Clay shock victory over Sonny Liston in the heavyweight championship of the world a fix? Clays had been 7-1 to defeat the reigning champion, who was backed by the mob.Ali won by technical knock-out when Liston remained in his corner at the start of the seventh round.
Now we get to read the FBI’s nots on the bout. A 1966 memo written to J. Edgar Hoover, director of the FBI at the time, mentions one Ash Resnick as the organiser of many fixes.
The note alleges that a Barnett Magids believed Resnick and Liston each made $1 million by betting on Clay to win.
“At about noon on the day of the fight, [Magids] reached Resnick again by phone, and at this time, Resnick said for him to not make any bets, but just go watch the fight on pay TV and he would know why and that he could not talk further at that time. Magids did go see the fight on TV and immediately realised that Resnick knew that Liston was going to lose. A week later, there was an article in Sports Illustrated writing up Resnick as a big loser because of his backing of Liston. Later, people ‘in the know’ in Las Vegas told Magids that Resnick and Liston both reportedly made over $1 million betting against Liston on the fight and that the magazine article was a cover for this.”
Resnick and Liston are both dead. Hoover is dead. This site alleges a link between the gamblers and the FBI:
Other information suggests Meyer Lansky obtained hard proof of Edgar’s homosexuality and used it to neutralize the FBI as a threat to his own operations. The first hint came from Irving “Ash” Resnick, the Nevada representative of the Patriarcha family for New England, and an original owner-builder of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. As a high-level mob courier, he traveled extensively. In Miami Beach, his Christmas destination in the fifties, he stayed at the Gulfstream, in a bungalow next to the one used by Edgar and Clyde. “I’d sit with him on the beach ever day,” Resnick remembered. “We were family.”
Another source claims:
Meyer Lansky, a Polish immigrant, was considered the head of the Mafia.
But really, what happened?
Florida State Attorney Richard Gerstein initiated an investigation of the fight to focus on Liston’s shoulder injury, for which he enlisted the services of his office’s medical/legal adviser and the Dade County Medical Examiner. A Florida state law provided for a prison term of up to ten years for anyone found to have fixed or thrown a boxing match.
The boxing commission in Sonny’s home state of Colorado suspended him immediately after the bout. “I’m not gonna look at any medical examination and let that guide me wrongly on account of his being injured,” said one commission member. Some people suggested that Sonny should be barred from the ring for life.
Four weeks after the bout, the results of Gerstein’s investigation confirmed the findings of the eight doctors who had examined Sonny after the fight. “While Liston’s injury is beyond doubt, there is also little doubt that he went into this fight with a sore or lame arm,” stated the report. It also noted that none of the pre-fight information was imparted to the Miami Beach Boxing Commission. That means the commission chose not to mention the fact that they had turned down Sonny’s request for an injury-related postponement. The investigation revealed no evidence that the fight had been fixed, and Gerstein’s office found no fluctuation in the betting odds anywhere in the country.
But the story rumbles on… You can see the fight and the photos from the build up to it here.