Lions of Winter No. 1: Marvin “The Weasel” Elkind

By Michael Schmidt on July 11, 2011
Lions of Winter No. 1: Marvin “The Weasel” Elkind
Marvin “The Weasel” Elkind was Jimmy Hoffa's driver through the early- and mid-1950s

“The Weasel” has a list of backseat patrons that have included Ali, Frazier, Dempsey, Louis, Chuvalo, Liston, Marciano, Mancini, Moore, and Pryor…

Who will replace these “Lions of Winter”? These are the “old-timers.” They have stories to tell, some back through the 1930s forward, these Lions. Who will replace these “Lions of Winter”? NOBODY!

Marvin “The Weasel” Elkind, driver to the mob, “transporter,” “fixer,” is seventy-seven years old. He is a boxing man through and through. I will not do justice to this Mr. Elkind. He is a man in full. A man that has lived a long, interesting, and hard life. He has done exceptionally good deeds and, yes, he would tell you he has done things that best not be spoken. The Sopranos casting call missed out here. In any other case one might see Mr. Elkind as a boxing/mobster type cliché and by long overuse the boxing clichés, numerous and sundry, have become boring. But there is nothing boring about this “Lion in Winter.”

Boxing true stories unending, that is our “Weasel.” He is a boxing raconteur nonpareil. I remember sitting in one of my favorite steak joints some time ago, Zorros, just North of Toronto Pearson Airport, and I began listening to those stories, those magnificent stories. “Counselor, you have had an interesting life. Whenever we meet you always sit with your back to the door,” opines Marvin. “Say, you are a big Duran fan. Did I ever tell you about the time he got me mixed up for another guy in Buffalo and kicked me out of his dressing room?” I don’t ask how he happened to be in the legend Duran’s dressing room to begin with; stories layered upon stories.

“Hey kid, how arrrrre ya? Say, did I ever tell you about picking Sonny Liston up at the airport to take him to a fight card here in Toronto? I asked him if there was anything he needed before we went over because we were short on time. ‘I want a white broad.’ That’s what he said.” One could, if one chose, quote and write on Marvin Elkind’s life, no less than I suppose, forever, yes forever.

“The Weasel,” as limo man, has a list of backseat patrons that have included, amongst others, Ali, Frazier, Dempsey, Louis, Chuvalo, Liston, Marciano, Mancini, Moore, and Pryor. If you’re not a boxing man, then include Queens and Heads of State, including former Prime Minister of Israel Golda Meir. And then there is Mr. James Hoffa. Marvin was Jimmy Hoffa’s driver through the early- and mid-1950s.

“Hey counselor, did I ever tell you how ‘the guys’ set me up at this huge house out at the lake for one of the Boxing Hall of Fame weekends? They forgot to lock up the fancy booze cabinet so Chuvalo, Vito, Jake and a few other guys that came over had a great weekend. I played cards with Jake. Made a lot of money playing cards with Jake that weekend. He never paid up—and I never asked!”

The creative gifts of storytelling with wit: that is our “Weasel.” Where and how did it all start? “Well, counselor, I know you have heard it before. I was in and out of foster homes from an early age, nine, and on. From there came the criminal lifestyle. Grocery store heists and the like. As a young man I followed in the footsteps of a foster brother, and went to New York City. I worked at Stillman’s Gym, doing maintenance, and then on weekends I worked at the Copacabana. That was the place. It was also the place where mob guys came. I was a busboy. Fat Tony Salerno and Frankie Carbo came in regularly. One day Mr. Salerno came over, to me and said, ‘Marvin, starting Monday you are the driver for Jimmy Hoffa.’ The first day on the job Mr. Hoffa asks me to pull over to pick up his two bodyguards. Mr. Hoffa explained to me that the cardinal rule was that what was said in the limo stayed in the limo. ‘If you breach the cardinal rule you won’t be around the next day!’ His bodyguards opened up their coats to show their pieces.” To this day Marvin insists he knows where Jimmy Hoffa’s remains are.

“Hey kid, did I ever tell you about when Aaron Pryor was in town to fight Nicky Furlano and they blamed me for hiring a guy to put a voodoo hex on Pryor and throwing a dead chicken into the ring when he was sparring? It wasn’t me that did it, you know. Good fight, eh kid? Your buddy, Felix ‘The Cat’ Vanderpool was on that one.” 

With his driving came mob connections. As well, Marvin’s foster brother, Roy, was a high-ranking Mafia member. “He was bumped off in 1983.” Marvin has driven for most of the top mafia men in Canada. There have been movies and TV shows in regards to “The Weasel.” In 2004 Danny Aiello flew him out to the movie set of Zeyda and the Hitman, a bizarre story involving an attempted “hit” that mirrors a Marvin “matter.” He was a regular on TV shows like Mob Stories, and On the Road Again. He is an honorary member of the Hells’ Angels.  I could go on and on but there is no need. September of this year, the “Lion of Winter” will release his tell-nearly-all, The Weasel.

“Hey kid, did I ever tell you about that fighter up here named ‘Him’? Just ‘Him.’ Introducing…‘Him.’ Marvin is a boxing man. That has been and continues to be his consuming passion. He does not travel the world highway as he once did, but if there is a fight card in Ontario, Canada, guaranteed he will be there, more often than not sitting ringside. TV fights, those he never misses. “Hey counselor, what did you think of the Paul Williams fight?” My response in quick fashion: “Reminds me of that song Marvin, ‘Held Up Without A Gun.” (That takes me back to the Scott Ledoux vs. Johnny “Black Night” Boudreaux fight. It was definitely a black night. That decision was so bad it prompted a grand jury investigation, but the real highlight was when Howard Cosell had his toupee kicked off his head on national TV by an irate Ledoux.) Marvin, still a pistol, right back at me: “Or maybe with a gun, counselor.” We both laugh at our fight jokes. Therein is the paradox of Marvin. He has charm. He has done extremely good deeds in his life, including helping out police enforcement when he feels something morally requires his expertise, and he has been bad. Oh yes. It comes with a “you do what you have to do to survive growing up counselor” attitude born of truth.

It will all be told in his book. All these stories. The more “complicated” ones verified by court and police records. All those stories of the mob, of broads, of booze and of boxing’s halcyon days. Of good deeds, of bad deeds. The great paradox of a full life. I have often watched Marvin, intently, as he tells these great real life tales. Often his eyes and his face, I swear, will take on the look of a young man. He is, as he tells these stories, remembering other parts of the story and I suspect his mind, still a pistol, is racing ahead, remembering backwards, through his wondrous life. 

“Hey kid, did I ever tell you that story….”

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  1. Clara Paul 07:59pm, 10/29/2011

    Show a fight of Teddy Lambrinos (greek feather weight champion) and Willie Markle of NYC

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