Fighting the Mob: The Story of Carmen Basilio

By Boxing News on February 4, 2013
Fighting the Mob: The Story of Carmen Basilio
Basilio fought for what he believed was his—his boxing, his career, his integrity, his soul.

Former middleweight champion Carmen Basilio was tough. He not only took on Sugar Ray Robinson, Chuck Davey, Billy Graham, Ike Williams. Kid Gavilan, Gil Turner, Tony DeMarco, Johnny Saxton, Gene Fullmer and Gaspar Ortega, among others. He also took on the mob. The mob is a stain that no amount of scrubbing will ever wash away. But like so many other things, the mob isn’t what it used to be, and what it used to be was all-powerful and all-feared. Before it went legit, via showbiz, politics, municipal this, that, and the other thing, the mob had a stranglehold on boxing, and never more so than in the years after Prohibition, the 1930s through the 1950s, when Frankie Carbo, aka Mr. Gray, aka the “underworld commissioner of boxing,” controlled the IBC. Basilio was a straight arrow and challenged the mob when he couldn’t get a second shot at Kid Gavilan, to whom he lost a split decision in 1953. Carmen would have had to have sold his soul to the devil and his soul wasn’t for sale. Called “the man of courage” for his foolhardiness, Basilio fought for what he believed was his—his body, his boxing, his career, his integrity—and was a prosecution witness against Carbo during his racketeering trial in the early ‘60s. Carbo was found guilty, sentenced to 25 years, died in the joint, and today is all but forgotten. Carmen Basilio, by contrast, lives on and on and on…

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Documentry - Fighting the Mob - Carmen Basilio 1/5

Documentry - Fighting the Mob - Carmen Basilio 2/5

Documentry - Fighting the Mob - Carmen Basilio 3/5

Documentry - Fighting the Mob - Carmen Basilio 4/5

Documentry - Fighting the Mob - Carmen Basilio 5/5

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  1. nicolas 12:52pm, 02/07/2013

    Crooked promoters have always been a part of boxing. Some of the things that fighters have had to go through in the past are amazing. Archie Moore when he captured the light heavyweight division, didn’t collect a dime from that fight he claimed. Tommy Loughran when he defended his light heavy weight title against Mickey Walker got around 55,000 for that fight. The catch was he had to pay Walker and two of the fighters in the prelim bout, he and his manager in the end got some 4,000.00 dollars.  I would not be surprised that their are fewer crooked promoters now than there used to be, hard to say. As for sanctioning bodies. WIth all the stuff that was going on in the 50s and before, what was going on back then with sanctioning bodies? They were the ones who licensed some of the judges that may have been on the take as well. This has been a part of boxing since its inception.

  2. bikermike 09:21am, 02/07/2013

    There is no room for the mob….what, with corrupt Sanctioning Bodies….crooked Promoters….there’s no money left

  3. nicolas 12:28am, 02/07/2013

    I have not seen the documentary again, but I remember that in the documentary,  Basilio’s manager did deal with the mob, and may have helped Basilio get a title shot against DeMarco. In his autobiography, I believe I read that Robinson claimed he did not like Basilio because he felt that Basilio was a mob fighter. Though I tried to find this passage, I could not. As For JIM CRUE’s comment about the Robinson comeback. Actually it did not help Robinson’s pocketbook, he had a lot of trouble with the IRS at this time, and was primarily the reason for the comeback.

  4. Jim Crue 08:13am, 02/05/2013

    Too bad Carmen could not come to terms with his dislike of Robinson, or maybe he did…he hated him.
    Robinson was denied a shot at the WW title for years because he was black and he also was not corrupted by the mob. He would not be controlled by the boys at MSG which is way he fought away from NYC so often. Yes he probably was arrogant. He was a city boy and Carmen was a country boy. Robinson’s comeback my have done a lot for his pocketbook but I wish he would have stayed retired so the world did not have to see him struggle against Fullmer and Basilio who he would have handled easily in his prime.
    I also do not believe Carmen gave his best effort again the IBC boy Chuck Davey. It’s clear by the film of the fight that he tried about as hard as Graziano did when he fought Davey.
    Carmen was a gutsy fighter. Wish we had more like him today. May he rest in peace knowing he was one of the all time greats.

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