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06-09-2009, 03:16 AM

Mr. Carbo & His Pals
Monday, Jun. 15, 1959

In the heyday of the International Boxing Club's strangle hold on U.S. boxing, Millionaire Sportsman James Dougan Norris ran the show in public, and a slim, grey-haired man named Paul John ("Frankie") Carbo ran a lot of it in private. Breaking up the Norris monopoly was relatively easy for the Justice Department. The underworld dominance of Frankie Carbo was something else again. Few figures in the fight game admitted knowing Carbo or dealing with him in any way. But last July the man known as "Mr. Grey" was finally indicted by a New York grand jury for illegal matchmaking and managing fighters under the table. Carbo promptly disappeared, was caught only three weeks ago as he fled from police at his New Jersey hideout. Frankie was the picture of innocence, said he ran because "I thought it was a rubout."

As police searched for Carbo last month, a Los Angeles fight promoter named Jackie Leonard went before the California Athletic Commission, put the finger squarely on Mr. Grey and his managerial sidekick, a Philadelphia hoodlum named Frank ("Blinky") Palermo. Leonard had promoted most of the key fights of Welterweight Champion Don Jordan. He told a shady story. Last year, when Jordan was still only a challenger, Leonard got a phone call from Blinky Palermo. Blinky demanded that "we" be cut in for a piece of Jordan as a condition for getting a title fight with Virgil Akins. Leonard, together with Jordan's manager. Don Nesseth, pretended to agree. After the fight Leonard ignored Blinky Palermo's attempts to collect a share of the money. Soon he got a summons to Miami. He flew down, was brought into the presence of Frankie Carbo at a waterfront motel. Carbo "advised" he comply.

Leonard continued to stall and the talk got uglier. Blinky visited Leonard in Los Angeles, accompanied by a couple of tough-looking hoodlums with police records who lingered ominously in the background. Leonard got threatening phone calls ("It'll be with a pipe wrapped in a paper sack. You'll never know what hit you"). He testified that Carbo called too. said "something to the effect that 'You're going to get hurt. We're going to make an example of you.' " After the hearing, police were assigned to guard Leonard whenever he left home.

One night last week Leonard went out to get a newspaper at the corner, not bothering to call the cops. It was a mistake. He returned, found the garage light out, started to pull the garage door down, got slugged. He fell, was kicked as he lay on the ground. Leonard wound up in the hospital in serious condition. It looked very much as though Carbo, even under arrest, still had pals willing to do him a favor.