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  #1  
Old 26 February 2014, 03:40 PM
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Default Ali/Liston I fixed?

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/...-mob/?page=all

The Ali/Liston fight which most sports people seem to pin as being fixed is their rematch, in which Liston went down at the hands of, shall we say, a very compact punch early in the fight. Now, however, evidence has come out that the FBI, anyway, thought that the first Liston fight may also have been rigged.

I've watched this fight a few times now and while I'm not sure of a fix I'm almost certain there was chicanery going on. Specifically, it looks as though Liston put something on his gloves early in the fight that blinded Ali and almost stopped the fight (there's a particularly frantic scene in between rounds where you can see Ali screaming "I can't see! I can't see!"). Later in the fight, once Ali's regained his composure, he appears to, in the middle of the fight, wipe off whatever is on Liston's gloves and then rub them on his own. Once he does this, Liston immediately goes from being the classic stalking-his-prey-about-the-ring Sonny Liston and turns very, very defensive (he eventually quit on his stool even though he was probably winning the fight on points at the time).

If Liston threw the fight, he did it in a really weird way, I think. It's possible that I'm misreading what I saw and Liston just hung out until Round 7 or whatever, couldn't find a punch from Ali that he could take the fall on (although again, in fairness the last round or so he was turtled up a lot and not at all looking to take a punch), and so, to fulfill his obligations, he had his trainer throw in the towel between rounds. It doesn't exactly look like that.
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Old 27 February 2014, 01:56 PM
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People usually say Ali-Liston II was fixed, with a "phantom punch" (that didn't exist).

Liston supposedly had ties to the mob, and anyone who sees 30s boxing movies know that the mob fixes fights. The movies don't lie!
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  #3  
Old 27 February 2014, 03:19 PM
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Right, but the new claim is about Ali-Liston I.

There's no doubt that the mob fixed fights, particularly in the lower weight classes but also in the heavyweight division as well. There's a guy named Primo Carnera for instance who fought in the 30s who was a former circus strongman who, as a boxer, made a great circus strongman. Nevertheless, "da Preem" somehow managed to win the heavyweight championship by defeating a number of, shall we say, mob-softened opponents. Eventually he fought Max Baer (the guy portrayed as the villain in the movie "Cinderella Man") in one of the most farcical boxing exhibitions ever held.
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Old 27 February 2014, 07:27 PM
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I remember that there was an accusation about Liston having something on his gloves during the first fight. I can't recall ever seeing any footage of that fight. The second fight, short as it is, I have seen. Without seeing a punch.

Here's the thing, if Liston was supposed to take a fall in the first fight, why bother with trying to blind Ali? I was too young to remember anything about the betting line in that first fight. Ali was relatively light, not known for having a strong punch, but considered quick and thus dangerous. Liston was known for having a lot of pride, despite the mob underpinnings. Could it be that the stuff on the gloves was his way to try to fix the fight against Ali, and his buddies? When that failed, he needed to go back to the original plan and quit?

Ali

Again, Liston's reputation has been in the dump for years. I would like to see the fight--the description is intriguing to say the least.
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Old 27 February 2014, 10:32 PM
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The notion of boxing being "fixed" has been around since its very early days and I think it has a lot to do with how it makes sense from the fixer's perspective. A boxing match only requires the involvement of one participant to throw the match, and compared to team sports or multi-competitor races (like, say, horse races) it's much easier to get the desired outcome. The Black Sox Scandal had 8 players banned - at least half had noticably poorer play - and you'd probably need at least that many *key* players involved to make a difference, though it helped that one of them was a pitcher. One of the 8 Black Sox was a utility infielder who played minimally, but was only included in the fix because he overheard the planning and insisted on it.

Minimizing the people involved in a conspiracy is the best way to keep it a secret.
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Old 27 February 2014, 10:47 PM
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I'm pretty sure the Beatles were in on the conspiracy. It can't be mere coincidence that they met with with Cassius Clay right before the fight:

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  #7  
Old 27 February 2014, 11:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
The notion of boxing being "fixed" has been around since its very early days and I think it has a lot to do with how it makes sense from the fixer's perspective. A boxing match only requires the involvement of one participant to throw the match, and compared to team sports or multi-competitor races (like, say, horse races) it's much easier to get the desired outcome. The Black Sox Scandal had 8 players banned - at least half had noticably poorer play - and you'd probably need at least that many *key* players involved to make a difference, though it helped that one of them was a pitcher. One of the 8 Black Sox was a utility infielder who played minimally, but was only included in the fix because he overheard the planning and insisted on it.

Minimizing the people involved in a conspiracy is the best way to keep it a secret.
Actually 2 of the Black Sox (Eddie Cicotte and Lefty Williams) were pitchers, one of whom (Williams) had the kind of horribly terrible game that in retrospect makes it obvious he was on the take. If memory serves, he was pulled very, very early in a game at a time in baseball when you didn't pull pitchers that early unless something was seriously wrong. In this case, the serious wrong was that the pitcher in question was pitching batting practice.
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Old 28 February 2014, 02:49 AM
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I forgot about Cicotte being the other pitcher - the one that overwhelmed my memory was Lefty Williams, who famously lost 3 games that world series and pitched very, very poorly.

In any case, maybe I'm not quite right about the number of people who need to be involved in fix on "team sports" - these days the two top pitchers for any baseball team will get two starts each in a 7-game series, and if they pitch poorly (but not quite as poorly as Lefty Williams) and at the right time, a fix with just those two would work. Add to that the number of one-game playoffs in baseball - a fix with the pitcher isn't a guarantee, but a good place to start. So only one or two players, but not a starting lineup.

Of course, that would only work if the players were ripe for a bribe - baseball players today are quite well paid. You could have one on his rookie contract, or a "has-been" who is no longer making big money, but making a comeback. Not impossible, but not likely.
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Old 28 February 2014, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
In any case, maybe I'm not quite right about the number of people who need to be involved in fix on "team sports" - these days the two top pitchers for any baseball team will get two starts each in a 7-game series, and if they pitch poorly (but not quite as poorly as Lefty Williams) and at the right time, a fix with just those two would work.
Given how much the pitching aspect of the game has changed since 1919, two starters probably wouldn't be enough. Managers are generally quick to pull struggling starters in playoff series, and likely they wouldn't be left in long enough to allow the other team to build up insurmountable leads.
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Old 28 February 2014, 04:35 AM
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Managers are generally quick to pull struggling starters in playoff series, and likely they wouldn't be left in long enough to allow the other team to build up insurmountable leads.
That's what I meant about pitching poorly at the right time. The best chance for a bribed starter to "throw" a game would be to have a bad inning moderately late, where it's less obvious (the bad pitch can be attributed to fatigue), and there's less opportunity to mount a comeback. Come to think of it, the key pitchers to bribe might be the set-up and "specialist" relievers - these are rarely the best pitchers to begin with, as these days the "closer" is rarely brought in for more than just the 9th inning, and almost never to face a key batter, even though many baseball analysts will say that it's unwise to save the closer for the 9th inning if it's already lost due to a key hit made earlier. There are no guarantees, so it'd probably require bribing a handful of relief pitchers, but probably more economical - short and middle relievers don't make as much money, and could be bought for a lot less than an ace starter. Of course, that's poor speculation that a journeyman reliever would risk a career for a one-time bribe that isn't worth many millions of dollars...
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Old 28 February 2014, 04:56 AM
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The problem with those high-leverage situations is that they don't occur if one team gets lucky and scores 8 runs off the starter in the first 5 innings. It's still much better for you to have a couple starters in the bag to try to put the game out of reach before your teammates have a chance to make a comeback.

It's worth noting, too, that the White Sox still almost won the 1919 World Series in spite of themselves, and Lefty Williams had to have his marker called in part because the team wouldn't lie down. Actually, if memory serves, only Games 1, maybe 2, and 6 (and, of course, Game 8) were thrown; the men tasked with providing the Black Sox the money after every game didn't deliver it and after the first 2 games they decided to play fair (and even in Game 2 they might have been trying to win). Then they got a partial payment prior to I think Game 6, during which some but arguably not all the Black Sox tried the fix (the ones in a position to do so, of course; Fred McMullin barely played in the Series, Buck Weaver was tied into the Eight Men Out even though nobody linked him to fixing because he didn't report his friends to the commissioner's office, Lefty Williams didn't play, and Shoeless Joe might have decided by then that he didn't want to be a part of the fix after all).

Anyway, back to the modern day... I think it would be really, really hard to fix a World Series without the complicity of several men, and the more moving parts you have in those things the more ways that it can go wrong. As it was, the 1919 Series was barely thrown. I'd think you'd probably have better luck going after the umpires...
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Old 28 February 2014, 06:58 AM
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I think that Lefty Williams' marker was called in right from the start. He lost games 2, 5, and 8, giving up 4 runs (all earned) in each of his three starts. The first two he pitched 8-innings, the last was the debacle snopes mentioned above. After getting the first out, he gave up 4 straight hits (two singles, two doubles) before being pulled. In all three of Williams' games, the Sox never had the lead, and only their 4-2 loss in Game 2 was even remotely close. In two games he gave up 6 walks vs. only 3 strikeouts.

In any case, the Game 6 you refer to was an extra-innings win for the Sox, thanks to a leadoff double by Buck Weaver. Game 8 was certainly thrown, along with 2 and 5 - at least from the pitching side. Game 1 was a 9-1 laugher by the Reds, thanks to a 5-run outburst against Cicotte. Cicotte also lost game 4 by a score of 2-0, with only one bad inning with 2 hits and 2 unearned runs, but won Game 7 and pitched well doing so. If Cicotte did throw his games, he did so in a fairly subtle manner (just by viewing the boxscores), and perhaps went back to "normal" for game 7 because of criticism.
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Old 28 February 2014, 04:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
In any case, maybe I'm not quite right about the number of people who need to be involved in fix on "team sports" ...
Alleged fixing in football (soccer) matches has generally been around bets on obscure things like "Time of first throw-in" rather than the actual outcome of the match. That only needs one player to be in on it, since it would have to be early in the game - the player just needs to make sure they're in possession of the ball at that time, and then kick it out of play. (Which isn't an inherently suspicious thing to do). Or "Player X will be given a yellow card" - then Player X just needs to make sure they foul somebody badly enough to be given a yellow card. It's called spot fixing.
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Old 28 February 2014, 05:53 PM
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In college basketball, it's called point shaving, and in that situation what you see isn't guys playing to lose per se but to win by less than the spread. There are many subtle ways that a star player can influence his team to win by only 5 points instead of 10: missing shots, obviously, but also making bad passes, setting bad picks (well, stars don't do this much in college, but I guess in theory), and not playing defense. Since college basketball resides at a fairly unique intersection of being not for pay, being popular enough that a fixer can throw a large amount of money on an individual game without too many people noticing (imagine dumping $100k on a college lacrosse team to not beat the spread), and despite being a team sport, being a sport where one player can make a significant difference in the game, this remains an area which is ripe for fixing.

Incidentally, fixing games was pretty commonplace in early baseball, where it was for some reason called hippodroming (I'm sure this is after the old Roman racetrack of the same name but beyond that I have no idea what the connection is). In the 1870s, only a couple years after the modern National League was formed, 4 members of the Louisville team were banned for life for fixing a series of games (there was no World Series then but there was a pennant race, which if memory serves the Louisville team narrowly lost). A large part of what made the Black Sox scandal memorable wasn't so much that the games were being fixed but that Major League Baseball was finally starting to care that the games were being fixed.
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Old 28 February 2014, 06:02 PM
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WRT "hippodroming" - could it be some comparison to horse racing being fixed? A race can be fixed for a horse to lose, but I am not aware of a stuation where you can bet on a horse to lose (i.e. betting on the horse "not being first" or "not being in the top three).

Also, WRT spot-fixing, I am not aware of too many spot bets taken on the major north american sports - generally it's picking the winner, with and without point spread, and the "over/under" for total points. I don't know how complicated betting for boxing is - i.e. can you bet that the fight ends before 3 rounds?
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Old 28 February 2014, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Hero_Mike View Post
Also, WRT spot-fixing, I am not aware of too many spot bets taken on the major north american sports - generally it's picking the winner, with and without point spread, and the "over/under" for total points. I don't know how complicated betting for boxing is - i.e. can you bet that the fight ends before 3 rounds?
Spot betting goes on all the time at the less than reputable betting locations. I used to see it a university quite frequently where we had more money than brains. In hockey, you can bet on anything. How many hit posts in the first period. Time of the first penalty. Time of the first puck over the glass.

It is only a little more structured than the betting that was portrayed in Slap Shot between the players.

ETA: I'm not sure how easy it would be to fix a spot in hockey. I would suggest it would be near impossible.
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Old 28 February 2014, 06:55 PM
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Yeah, American football has a good amount of spot betting available for it if you go to Nevada but it's a symptom of gambling being largely illegal here that you don't see much talk about that. The thing that makes spot betting popular is sitting around in a bar or a part of a casino and watching a game and then just placing bets on random stuff that's happening in what you're watching. Sure, you *can* place spot bets weeks in advance but I'd imagine most betting establishments don't see much income this way.
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Old 28 February 2014, 07:24 PM
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It would have been illegal here a few years ago, too. (Spot betting, that is - the fixing is still illegal). I can't even blame the Conservatives for that one.

(eta) I've also generally seen "Far Eastern gambling cartels" implicated, rather than any based here, so if that's true, the legality or illegality of the bet itself in the UK would be irrelevant anyway.
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Old 28 February 2014, 07:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Johnny Slick View Post
Incidentally, fixing games was pretty commonplace in early baseball, where it was for some reason called hippodroming (I'm sure this is after the old Roman racetrack of the same name but beyond that I have no idea what the connection is).
19th century traveling shows/circuses in the U.S. often featured hippodrome race events in which the race wasn't really an on-the-level sporting contest but rather was intended as a calculated entertainment for the audience (sort of like modern wrestling), so the term came to be used with sporting events where the outcome was predetermined through fixing.
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Old 28 February 2014, 08:34 PM
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In case I wasn't clear, I was talking about official spot-betting - sure, you can bet on a lot of events which aren't critical to the outcome of the game, but they are not always officially recorded. As you say, UEL, a bet on how many pucks hit the post in a hockey game, is indeed a possible bet, but it's not a standard "statistic" from the match and I imagine that it would be disputable by the parties involved - especially for an "official" spot bet. I do recall reading about betting on the Super Bowl coin toss, temperature at kickoff, and paid attendance, but all of those are well reported.

I think that the spot-betting is a product of modern technology - in the old days, people bet on the outcome of events where they had no way of viewing any part of the event, even after the fact. Think of horse-racing bets placed on a race that is only heard over the radio. Only the major results would be known or published, whereas now many people can view any event live, and everyone can view it after the fact as verification.
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