Don Jordan: Assassin for Hire

By Mike Casey on September 25, 2012
Don Jordan: Assassin for Hire
"You cannot kill a human and forget his face," Jordan said. "You never forget a man you kill."

Was he making it all up? Apparently not. Don Jordan, former welterweight champion of the world, had led a violent and turbulent life right from the start. Nevertheless, the cold and detached way in which he recounted his dirty deeds was quietly bone-chilling.

In 1969, Jordan sat down to discuss his career as a boxer and his early years in his native Dominican Republic with author Peter Heller. Jordan coughed out the details with all the apathy of a computer processing a market report.

“Do you really want to know the truth about the Dominican Republic?” he asked Heller. “It’s dog eat dog. It’s a jungle. That’s how I learned to fight. I was what you call a hired assassin. I was paid to kill people for a living. I did it. I was happy. It was a way of living. I was killing people when I was ten years old. What’s wrong with it?

“I killed thirty people in one month. Then my people tell me, ‘Think what you do. Do you know these people?’ I said, ‘I never seen them. It’s just for money.’ They said, ‘Think how these people feel. Study these people.’ And when I’d blow somebody’s brains out, I’d watch his face. It used to bug the shit out of me. The expression and anxiety in their face, the structure of it. I knew what they meant by it. You cannot kill a human and forget his face. You never forget a man you kill.

“We used bamboa, poison dart, straight in the neck. Put fluid in the brain, it kills the body very quick. The police didn’t give a damn. They didn’t want to fight because they didn’t want to get killed. They look for you, but they don’t try to find you.”

Don Jordan fought professionally from 1953 to 1962, winning 51, losing 23 and drawing one of his 76 fights. The reason these figures add up to 75 instead of 76 is because of an odious ‘no contest’ in Jordan’s last fight against Battling Torres at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles on October 5, 1962. Decked in the first round by a seemingly innocuous punch, Jordan didn’t get up and was suspended for life by the California State Athletic Commission. Don had more than a morsel of history when it came to not trying his best.

His prime years coincided with the reign of mobsters Frankie Carbo, Blinky Palermo and Joe Sica, a time when many top fighters “belonged” to certain camps. Jordan won the welterweight championship from Virgil Akins in 1958, defending successfully against Akins and Denny Moyer before losing the crown on a unanimoys decision to Benny (Kid) Paret at Las Vegas in 1960.

Discussing the Paret fight with Peter Heller, Jordan said, “I gave it to him. I beat him 13 rounds without trying, then suddenly I quit fighting, I quit. The deal was in. He had to win. And I never got a rematch. Back east they didn’t want it because I can whip him. They said, ‘You’re dead as far as we’re concerned. Back here we’ve got things moving.’ That’s why I never got a rematch. Paret was under the Carbo brothers, Frank and Nick Carbo, out of Miami. I was with the McCoy family.”

It was perhaps inevitable that Don Jordan should die as violently as he lived. He took the final count on April 13, 1997, having been in a coma for some seven months after being assaulted and robbed in a Los Angeles parking lot. He was 62.

“What’s wrong with killing a human?” he had asked Peter Heller. “The first time you kill someone, you throw up, you get sick as a dog. Your guts come out, you cry, you throw up. The second time, no feeling.”

Jordan’s killers quite probably viewed life and death from the same perspective.

Mike Casey is the Founder & Editor of ALL TIME BOXING at He is a freelance journalist and boxing historian and a member of the International Boxing Research Organization (IBRO).

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Benny 'Kid' Paret vs Don Jordan Part 1

Benny 'Kid' Paret vs Don Jordan Part 2

Carmen Basilio | Don Jordan 1/4

Carmen Basilio | Don Jordan 2/4

Carmen Basilio | Don Jordan 3/4

Carmen Basilio | Don Jordan 4/4

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  1. Nicole Jordan 06:33pm, 11/21/2016

    Wow! The one in the white trunks was my Uncle Don Jordan he was great Boxer I miss him he will always be remembered and miss Rest in Peace Uncle Don Jordan ..

  2. Steve Compton 09:21am, 02/19/2014

    This has all been proven false. Why would anyone start this with: “Was he making it up? Apparently not.” Indeed he was. Ive spoken with Peter about this personally and he knew that the stories Jordan was spinning were pure fantasy but elected to keep them in because as the title states 42 Champions TELL THEIR STORY. It was Jordan’s story and it wasnt Heller’s placed to editorialize on it and break up the narrative. Instead he elected to print a not at the bottom of the page which states: “*Although Jordan told of a life growing up in the Carribean and working as an assassin none of this is true. Jordan grew up in East Los Angeles.” These facts are all readily available.

  3. the thresher 08:48am, 10/01/2012

    ways nice to see LL stop by.

  4. Lindy Lindell 08:31am, 10/01/2012

    This is a nice recapitulation of the zany Don Jordan, but like Mike Silver above, I am a non-believer of the Tales of Jordan.  As author Mike Casey chimes in with his comment that Jordan was “apparently not” fantacizing, there is nothing to support this, no new information added. 
    As boxing nuts, we should all be thankful that Peter Heller interviewed all those fellows for In This Corner;  in addition, there is nothing wrong with being entertained with, in this case, the Tales of Jordan.  But as Heller did not question Jordan any more deeply nor did he investigate the claims as he was able, the Tales of Jordan, enormously entertaining that they are, do little more than add to the folklore of boxing.  When I asked Eddie Futch (Eddie was Jordan’s trainer and Futch’s first world champ) about the Tales of Jordan in 1980, he laughed and said, “All lies.”

  5. Mike Silver 05:27pm, 09/29/2012

    I tend to doubt the veracity of Jordan’s comments. What he said about Paret controlled by Carbo is also inaccurate. Jordan was beaten easily by Paret.  He obviously was a disturbed person with a very vivid imagination.

  6. Tex Hassler 05:19pm, 09/29/2012

    I also have In “This Corner’ in my boxing book collection. It is a great book and ranks high with me. if you do not have the book get it please and get Mike Silver’s “Arc of Boxing”. No real fan should go through life with out reading and studying boxing and these two books are a must.

  7. Mike Casey 01:49pm, 09/27/2012

    Yes, NYIrish, I have In This Corner in my collection - some wonderful interviews with great champs. Peter even caught the likes of Johnny Wilson and Willie Ritchie before they died.

  8. NYIrish 12:43pm, 09/27/2012

    Peter Heller wrote quite a piece of boxing history; In This Corner. Keep the history coming Mike. It is appreciated.

  9. Mike Casey 05:48am, 09/26/2012

    Please do, my dear fellow!

  10. the thresher 05:36am, 09/26/2012

    chilling—I shall steal it

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