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Transcript of interview with Walter Weiss by Claytee White, November 2, 2010






In this interview, Walter Weiss discusses how Judaism and boxing kept him out of trouble in his youth. Weiss grew up in the Boston area, and started boxing as a teenager. Weiss talks about his boxing training, becoming a runner for a bookmaker, and coming to Las Vegas in the 1950s to be a bookmaker for the Stardust Hotel, and working the slot machine floor. He had several different jobs in various casinos, and discusses different people involved in the gaming industry in Las Vegas.

Walter Weiss life story begins in a Malden, Massachusetts during the Great Depression. His early background was a blend of observant Judaism, secularism, and the effects of the era. He was a troubled youth whose older brother encouraged him to join him in boxing. As Walter explains: I was a wild kid and ... boxing saved my life. His aptitude for boxing led him to be a sparring partner in New York City's famous Spillman Gym. There he met and worked out with some of the greatest fighters of the era, including Rocky Marciano. He recalls how he turned professional while attending the University of Miami and how he first came to Las Vegas in 1958 to escape his personal troubles and find work with a local bookmaker. Thus began his diverse employment history in the casino industry. He details his various positions and the cast of famous and infamous characters of the times. For six years he return to New York and worked as a Wall Street broker before arriving back in Las Vegas in 1973. He talks about his property ownership, lobbying for an amendment to Senate Bill 208, his personal religious changes and a sundry of observations about the changes that occurred as the state took over gaming.

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Walter Weiss oral history interview, 2010 November 2. OH-01939. [Transcript]. Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.


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An Interview with Walter Weiss An Oral History Conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV University Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ?The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2007 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV - University Libraries Director and Editor: Claytee D. White Assistant Editors: Gloria Homol and Delores Brownlee Transcribers: Kristin Hicks and Laurie Boetcher Interviewers and Project Assistants: Suzanne Becker, Nancy Hardy, Joyce Moore, Andres Moses, Laura Plowman, Emily Powers, Dr. Dave Schwartz ii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer and the Library Advisory Committee. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases, photographic sources (housed separately) accompany the collection as slides or black and white photographs. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Nevada, Las Vegas iii Interview with Walter Weiss November 2, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada Conducted by Claytee White Table of Contents Growing up in Maiden, Massachusetts and Union City, New Jersey; brother Herbert six years older. Father had a dress shop in Boston, wiped out by Depression. Very religious Polish-Jewish family heritage. Talks about Holocaust victims in family, grandfather was a bootlegger. Got in trouble growing up. Both he and his brother heavily involved in boxing. 1 Provides some explanation of rabbi role, Chabad religious organization. Difficulties in high school. How his brother met Joe Jeannette, a boxer, and then took him to gym at age sixteen. Explains Hasidic movement of Judaism. 3 Met Willie Ketchum, a boxing manager, in New York City and mentions a host of fighters from the 1950s. Graduated from high school in 1953. Did his road work in Central Park, trained at Stillman's Gym and earned money sparring with professionals. Meets legendary boxer Rocky Marciano and begins a friendship. 9 Las Vegas and boxing interest. Talks about his professional training, turning pro, Maccabiah Games in Israel; goes to University of Miami on scholarship; then Boston University before moving to Las Vegas in 1958; was in trouble with Boston bookmakers. Talks about Elliott Price as a big influence on his life and becoming a bookmaker. 17 Gets a job as floor man on slot machines; then hired as bar boy by Irwin Molasky; then moves around from job to job through contacts at various casinos. Talks about Colonial House. Tells story about singer Andy Williams early performance at Caesars. 22 Stories about Leona Gage, dancer and former Miss America; producer Monte Pose; Louis Armstrong and awareness of segregation at the time. Mentions other entertainers and casino executives like Jack Entratter of Sands and Jerry Zarowitz of Desert Inn. Story about a wealthy Filipino Danny Aguinaldo. Talks about what happens if someone is blackballed. 25 Talks about Ralph Lamb, former sheriff; the murder of A1 Bramlet, head of culinary union; attitudes toward the Mob locally and nationally. Moved to Lake Tahoe for his first executive level casino job. Talks about how George Rosen broke him into the gambling business; 21 dealer, shill. Aspirations. Leaves Vegas in 1967. 29 Talks about Jay Sarno, Circus Circus; Ross Miller, Riviera and what happened when someone was suspected of cheating. Tells a story about Georgie Rosen and cheating card players, Eddie Fisher losing at craps. Mob going legitimate. Vegas becoming more popular. Everyone making money. Nevada Resort Association, Gaming Control Board and Howard Hughes caused changes 33 Six years on Wall Street interim before returning to Las Vegas mentioned. Invitation to a second interview session topics. Involvement of Jews in Las Veeas 39 iv He never saw Howard Hughes, but shares well-known stories of him; he was a dealer at Desert Inn in days when Hughes stayed there. Talks about Moe Dalitz and his contributions to Catholic church and a synagogue. Generosity of owners with loyal employees; migration of employees from eastern operations to Las Vegas casinos to work for their bosses; learned to deal etc. Sunrise Hospital built by Irwin Molasky, business partner with Moe Dalitz; and how he talked with both to invest in the building of Fitzgeralds Casino to no avail. 41 Tries to invest in Frontier Hotel. Works for Steven Wynn at Golden Nugget. Graduates from UNLV in 1978. Ethics of the time, good and bad. Frank Sinatra's troubles with Sam Giancana, black book listing and Gaming Control Board. Bobby Kennedy's feelings about Las Vegas. Mentions being a protege of Jerry Zarowitz. 45 Talks about moving to New York in 1967 for a ladies sportswear sales job, but running into challenges due to his Vegas background. And then met someone who liked his background, trained him to be a licensed salesman on Wall Street for six years. Then returns to Las Vegas inl973 and works for Steve Wynn, then back to Univ of Miami. 48 Talks about relationship with attorney Harvard Silvard, working at Golden Nugget, Louis Capiello, Leo Lewis, and moving with Leo to the Aladdin casino. Changes that occurred when state took over gaming. 55 Bought home in 1993, joins Sephardic synagogue, koshers his new home, friendships with Rabbi Elmilec Neisem. Reflects on his dreams and aspirations, lobbying; reminisces about past celebrities and acquaintances. 60 APPENDIX 2004 - 2005 correspondence and writings regarding the passing of his Rabbi Ephraim Wolf. v Preface Walter Weiss life story begins in a Maiden, Massachusetts during the Great Depression. His early background was a blend of observant Judaism, secularism, and the effects of the era. He was a troubled youth whose older brother encouraged him to join him in boxing. As Walter explains: I was a wild kid and ... boxing saved my life. His aptitude for boxing led him to be a sparring partner in New York City's famous Spillman Gym. There he met and worked out with some of the greatest fighters of the era, including Rocky Marciano. He recalls how he turned professional while attending the University of Miami and how he first came to Las Vegas in 1958 to escape his personal troubles and find work with a local bookmaker. Thus began his diverse employment history in the casino industry. He details his various positions and the cast of famous and infamous characters of the times. For six years he return to New York and worked as a Wall Street broker before arriving back in Las Vegas in 1973. He talks about his property ownership, lobbying for an amendement to Senate Bill 208, his personal religious changes and a sundry of observations about the changes that occurred as the state took over gaming. vi This is Claytee White. It is November 2nd, 2010. I'm with Walter this morning. Walter, I want you to give me your full name and spell your last name for the recorder. My name is Walter Weiss, W-E-I-S-S. And how are you doing today? I'm doing just fine. Thank you. I feel very good. Thank you. Wonderful. You look great this morning as well. Thank you. Thank you. So I want to start with your early life for this interview. I want you to tell me where you grew up, what that was like as a child, school and all of that, and what your family life was like. Well, I grew up about seven or eight miles north of Boston in a small community called Maiden, Massachusetts. I have a brother that's six years older than me and very healthy and very vibrant, as my father was, may he rest in peace. My father passed away at 96 years of age here in Las Vegas. Had a stroke. His mind was like a thirty-year-old right up until he had that stroke. He was an unbelievable human being, very well liked, very religious, very caring for other people. He's the type of guy exact opposite from me. Never raised his voice. Never got excited. Had no temper whatsoever. Me, I'm very emotional. He was very calm. You could slap him in the face, he'd laugh at you. That's the type of person he was. So what kind of work did he do? My father, before I was born and in my infancy, was in ladies apparel. He had a dress shop in Boston. He got wiped out with the economy in the twenties during the Depression. We ended up in New Jersey, in Union City, New Jersey right across the river from West New York and right across I guess the Hudson River I think it was into Jersey. He sold anything: jewelry, clothes or anything. He used to go door to door. He had his own company and it didn't do very well. My father came from a very, very religious family of renowned rabbis. In fact, I am an eighth generation grandson of a rabbi who is renowned throughout the world. They go to his gravesite in Poland every year 4- or 5,000 strong. That's how influential. He was one of the founders of the Hasidic movement. His name is Elmelic Lugenz. He comes from Lugenz in 1 Poland. My mother came from a very secular family. She had two brothers and a sister. Her sister died at childbirth. I never knew the sister. My cousin is two years older than me. My grandfather was a bootlegger and had a bar in Providence, Rhode Island. But my father's family came from a very religious background. He had one brother who was in the Holocaust and he came here after he got out of a concentration camp and died in Washington Heights, New York, which was a heavily Jewish population at that time. He had another brother that was a cantor in Brooklyn, New York. They were the only two brothers I knew. The rest of them died in the Holocaust in Europe. I believe my grandparents on my father's side died right before the Hitler era. Anyway, I grew up in Maiden. My brother and I, we're two opposites. My brother was very studious, very quiet, reserved. I was a wild animal. I was a problem child from the time I was in my early, early, early teens, in and out of trouble, in and out of trouble. What kind of trouble? All kind of trouble. Fights in school. If someone looked at me wrong, I'd punch them. I was a real problem child. I went away to private schools a few times. That's how I became more involved in my religion. I happen to be very observant today and I keep the Sabbath. I spend a lot of time in different parts of the country with different rabbis in study, and here as well. In fact, this last weekend I spent at the home of the chief rabbi of Chabad organization for the Sabbath. I was there Friday night and Saturday. My brother, who is a wonderful human being?I say this to everybody that everyone in life should have a brother like I have. What is his name? His name is Herb, Herbert. He was heavily involved in boxing, as I was. But he was a referee in Boston for 35 or 40 years and an attorney, just recently retired. He now lives in Whidbey Island, Washington State, which is about 30 miles north of Seattle. Anyway, getting back to my youth, then, because of my problems finally they ran out of schools. They sent me to Yeshivas, which is remedial schools, Jewish schools where you get a heavy Hebrew education. I wasn't much better there to tell you the truth. In fact, I went?I don't know if you ever heard. There was a famous rabbi that was the head of Chabad. When he died he 2 was in his nineties. He died about I guess ten or 15 years ago. His name was Menachem Mendel Schneerson. In fact, he was so influential that when?not Moshe Dayan?but the prime minister that signed the agreement with Sadat, Anwar Sadat. Menachem Begin. Okay. Menachem Begin. Menachem Begin. When Menachem Begin came to New York to meet with Sadat or to meet with the United States Government when they were looking for a peace treaty with Egypt, he used to go to this rabbi in Brooklyn before. And then after the meeting with Sadat he'd come back. This rabbi would interpret what Sadat said and what went on at the meeting. He would give him his advice on how to follow through with it. Oh, I see. He was a very powerful man. Tell me the role of a rabbi. Well, it's very similar to the role that a minister would have or a priest would have in a Christian church. The rabbi has not only a lot of influence over your religious life but over your personal life, your lifestyle. They try to guide you in the proper direction not only with the religion but with your lifestyle. Like Rabbi Harlig, who is the chief rabbi with Chabad here in Nevada, he's helped me in so many ways. He has approached people for me. It's dangerous for him approaching people because he looks for charity from these people. He gets big, big bucks from these people. And I mean big bucks. He just built a school now, a campus, not a school, on Vista, which is one block east of Valley View right off Charleston. He built a ten-million-dollar campus there with classrooms and gymnasium, computer labs. I mean it's unbelievable. They just dedicated it about a month ago. So is this elementary, high school? Up to and including eighth grade. We don't have a Jewish high school here. But up to eighth grade. He has about 200 students. They have another one, the Hebrew Academy, but it's not as religious oriented as the Chabad school is. Tell me what Chabad is. Chabad is C-H-A-B-A-D, Chabad. Chabad is a Jewish organization that is all over the world. It's in 70 countries. They go and try to lead people back to the religion. We don't believe in 3 conversion. We have converts, but they must do it on their own. It's very tough to convert. They put you through all kinds of obstacles. We don't preach conversion. In fact, a lot of the rabbis from Chabad and all over, when they come to a synagogue, they stipulate I don't want to be involved in conversions. They don't want to be involved in conversions because a lot of people do it as a fad. You know what I mean? I see. But then you get some people that are very serious. When I was a kid, I belonged to the Young Israel organization, Young Israel of Maiden. We had two sisters. They were Italian girls and they were converts from Catholicism. They were married to two brothers. They were the hardest workers in our synagogue and the most religious. They were unbelievable, these two women because they did it?in fact, I went with a gentile girl many years ago when I had a cousin who was very religious up in Washington Heights and I visited with my father. We visited him one day. My father was in from Boston. He said what do you do about conversion? I'll never forget him. He said I don't know. My father said to me what do you mean you don't know? You must have had conversions in Europe. Yes, but we had conversions for Yiddishka, not for love. That's the word for Jewishness. They continued for Yiddishka, not for love; that's what he said to my father. I'll never forget that. But anyway, and through all these schools I went to - and that's why my brother always says that's why he's religiously oriented and I'm not because I had a normal lifestyle. My brother had a normal lifestyle and went through public school and graduated school and so forth. I had to go to these religious schools because I got thrown out of every school. When I was 14 years old and I was in junior high school, I punched a teacher and knocked him on his fanny in school in Maiden. I had all kinds of problems. I was terrible, terrible. I was uncontrollable. My parents, God bless them, they were made of steel to have to put up with me. That's how bad I was. Wow. Yeah. It's a funny thing. When I went to high school, I went to Maiden High School and I graduated from public high school. Okay. Public high school. Public high school. But I settled down a little bit. I'll tell you what happened. My brother came 4 home one day. My brother met a great fighter by the name of Joe Jeannette. He was a great fighter from Boston. I never knew Joe Jeannette, but he was a great fighter. Sam Langford was another great fighter in Boston. I used to sit in the park and talk to him. My brother got involved in boxing through these two people, mainly Joe Jeannette. And he went to his trainer. We had two trainers. One was a truck driver. He came out of Nova Scotia. And the other one was an executive at the Ford Motor Company. They had a big manufacturing plant in like Cambridge, Massachusetts, or Somerville, Mass. He said my brother's out of control; I don't know what to do with him. So this truck driver from Nova Scotia?he was a tough guy?he says bring him in the gym. He says I'll straighten him out. When I get done with him, he's not going to have enough strength to get in trouble. And they took me in the gym. I was 16 years old. I never got in another day's trouble. I got heavily involved in boxing and it saved my life. So what did it do for you, discipline and what else? Discipline. It just kept me out of trouble. It just took me away from the bad element that I used to run around with. It was just a different element. Do you consider that the thing that influenced your life most? Oh, yes, definitely. Well, I guess that influence. In later years of course?I've been observant only for the last 17 years. Naturally that straightened out my life and was the biggest influence on my life at that time because I went on and had?I don't know?35, 40 amateur fights and I had about eight or ten professional fights. So before you tell me about the fight game, I want you to go back and tell me the beginning before you get into the fight game. But I want to?two questions. You mentioned earlier about a Hasidic movement? Hasidic, H-A-S-I-D-I-C. That is a very religious Jewish way of life where they wear the black and the beards and the hats. Is there a curl? Curl. They call them payot. It's payots. That's the sideburns, the long sideburns. That and they wear a?they call it a gartel, G-A-R-T-E-L. It's like a rope around your waist. They wear that when they pray. They wear the black. Now, what about the women? 5 The women? How are they dressed? They dress very conservative, usually long dresses, high collars. You don't see it with low cut. You do see a few with low cut, but they're not Hasidic. Hasidic women wear a hat. They wear something on their head. They wear a lot of wigs. They shave. They call it a sheitel. The wig is called a sheitel. And they shave the tops of their heads, a lot of them that are ultra-religious, ultra-orthodox, and they wear a wig. Why do they shave the top of their head? I don't know why. I forget the reason why to tell you the truth. A religious Jewish woman, she doesn't shake hands with a man. In fact, when you go to an ultra-orthodox wedding, there's a wall. When you go into the hall?I visit friends?in fact, I just got a call from one of them this morning. I visit friends in Brooklyn in?oh, God, what's the section of Brooklyn? Oh, God a very religious area of Brooklyn. It's like you're in another world. Everybody's got the payots. Everybody's got the blackies. In the grocery store they're dressed in black. You go into a dry cleaners, you go into a restaurant, everything, everybody. It's unbelievable. The kids. I was at a wedding and you go in separate doors. The men and women? Men and women. You have separate cloakrooms. Can you sit together once you get in? No, you do not sit together. The women sit at separate tables. All orthodox. But they have a wall up. At the wedding you don't see any women until at the end they take the wall down and they dance. The bride and groom dance and the father will dance. But they don't dance holding each other. They dance with like a rope and they do the dance. There's no dancing - Wow, where you touch the person. No. No. You don't do that. You don't see any women until 12, one o'clock, two o'clock in the morning when they open that wall up and they have the dancing. Otherwise, men dance with the men and the women dance with the women. And they eat separate. Now when I go to a Chabad, women sit at a separate table or sit at the end of one table. Sometimes they sit in the same table. But they have separate tables for women and for me. They try to avoid?they feel if men and 6 women sit together they're going to be tempted. You know, they're going to be led astray. What about people who are already married? Same thing. When you're in public you do not display any affection in public, not at all, not at all in orthodox Jews. It's just not done. Women and men are separate. If I know the rabbi's not home, I can't go to his home. Because his wife is there. Yeah. Now, if she's got children, that's a different story. You know, you can go. But I can't go to anybody's home. If I have a friend, like even my best friend, I can't go to his home if he's not there if just his wife is there. Wow. Thank you for that. When you were growing up what were you taught about the Holocaust in the home? Well, I knew about the Holocaust. I didn't hear a lot about the Holocaust in the home except my father's family. My mother's family was not affected at all by the Holocaust. My father's family was affected quite a bit. My father used to mention different people, his brothers. He had quite a number of brothers, five or six brothers if I remember. I only knew two of them really. In fact, I went to a Chabad that was in the infancy stages at that time. That was even before "The Rebbe." They call him "The Rebbe," Rabbi Schneerson. That was before his time I was there. I went to the Chabad-Lubavitch in Brooklyn. I stayed with my uncle, who was a cantor. He was very strict. Ooh, he was impossible. Oh, boy. Ooh, he was tough. I'll never forget him. He was tough. But that was in like 1946 I guess, '47. "The Rebbe" came a few years after that and took over Chabad. So I always tell the rabbi here I was at Chabad before "The Rebbe." I said I've got more background at a Chabad than "The Rebbe," you know, joking. I didn't hear a lot about the - I mean I knew about it, but I wasn't - it wasn't something we talked about. When were you born, which year? 1935, January 22, 1935. And which year did the family move to Union City? We moved to Union City during the war. I'd say '42, 1943, around that time. I know we lived there at the ending of the war. I remember that. 7 So when you were 16 --1 can't do my figuring that fast. That was 1951. I was living in Boston, Maiden. My father moved from New Jersey to Boston, to Maiden. My uncle had a chain of liquor stores and he bought a liquor store in Maiden. And my father came there to manage it. He ended up buying that liquor store from my uncles, two uncles, my mother's brothers. But you were born in Maiden, right? No, no. I was born in Providence, Rhode Island. My mother was born in Providence, Rhode Island. My brother was born in Providence. We were all important in the same place, Miriam Hospital, Providence, Rhode Island. So from Providence you moved to Union City -- Correct. ? and then to Maiden? Correct. Is Maiden part of Boston? Maiden is a separate city eight miles north of Boston on the north shore right near Revere Beach. So when you say Boston and Maiden, are you using them ~ Yeah. Okay. So you're using it interchangeably? Yeah. We lived in Maiden. We lived in Maiden. Our entire time in the Boston area was in Maiden, Massachusetts. So when you were 16 you were in Boston when you were introduced to boxing? Correct. We were living in Maiden. Correct. Okay, great. So now, tell me about being introduced to boxing and how that changed your life. You were talking about that was a life-changing experience. Yes. We had a gym in the north end of Boston, which is the Italian section. It was on French Street. It was called the New Garden Gym. And everybody trained there. Oh, God, Tony DeMarco was the Welterweight Champion of the World. I trained with him. Tommy Collins wa a great featherweight. I trained with him. Oh, we had some great fighters. Rocky Marciano came from Brockton, which is 25 miles south of Boston. I met Rocky 8 years later, a couple years later at the training camp Upstate New York. Before he went to Grossinger's, he trained at a training camp called Greenwood Lake, New York, which is 40 miles outside of New York City. In fact, that's where Sugar Ray Robinson had a training camp there in Greenwood Lake. His training camp was called the Cabin in the Sky, Ray Robinson. He was about three, four miles away from where I trained, the Long Pond Inn, where Rocky Marciano trained and Archie Moore trained there. Quite a few great fighters trained there. But Sugar Ray had his own training camped called Cabin in the Sky. That was in Greenwood Lake, New York. That was about I guess three, four miles from Long Pond Inn where I trained where Rocky Marciano trained. Rocky Marciano trained there. I met Rocky Marciano at the time that he was training for the Joe Louis fight. I was introduced to Greenwood Lake, New York, by Irish Bob Murphy, who was a great light heavyweight. He was the first TV boxing hero. He was a swashbuckling, wild, heavy drinking guy. He was a good friend of mine. In fact, his manager was a scout for the Brooklyn Dodgers and he died here in Las Vegas. His name was Travis Hatfield. He managed Irish Bob Murphy. When you were 16 and you started in the boxing. You're still in high school? Correct. So you were just doing this after school at the beginning? Correct. Yes. So you finished high school there in Boston. Correct. I graduated Maiden High School in 1953. And then tell me what happens with your education and then with boxing. Okay. I went to New York right after I graduated high school. I met a gentleman by the name of Willie Ketchum. He managed many champions. At that time he was managing Jimmy Carter. James Carter was a great lightweight champion. He fought Tommy Collins. Tommy Collins was nothing but a featherweight, which is 125 pounds, and Jimmy Carter was a lightweight champion, 135 pounds. There was a big difference at that size. He was just a little frail, but he was a deadly puncher, this Tommy Collins. He had something like 85 fights and I think he had 70 knockouts. He was unbelievable. Oh, he'd hit you, it was just like holding on to a live wire. Oh, boy, could 9 he punch. He'd knock out welterweights in the gym, which are 147 pounds and over. He was a tough guy. He had shoulders about that wide. He grew up in the streets and from malnutrition he was a frail, little guy. He fought Sandy Saddler. He knocked Sandy Saddler down. Sandy Saddler was a great featherweight champion; beat Willie Pep for the Featherweight Championship of the World. Willie Pep was one of the all-time great featherweight champions. And Sandy Saddler knocked out Willie Pep for the title. He fought this Tommy Collins. He got hit a shot by Tommy Collins in the first couple of rounds. He went down. Anybody else would have never got up. He went down. When he hit the canvas, it woke him up. He staggered around for a couple of rounds and he knocked out Tommy Collins in about the sixth, seventh round. But it was a war. I'll never forget that. It was on St. Patrick's eve in Boston Garden. And Tommy Collins, being an Irishman, was so popular. Oh, forget about it. They used to go crazy over him. He was a nice guy. He just died a couple of years ago. He was a wonderful man. Now, tell me what your role was. My role was I trained with Tommy Collins. When you say you trained with ? I boxed with him. I was a sparring partner for Tommy Collins. At the time I met Willie Ketchum at that fight. Might have been 1952 that they fought for the title. And I made arrangements to come to New York after I graduated high school. Now, I graduated high school in June of 1953. Right after that I moved to New York. He got me a room. We had a hotel called the Colonial Hotel. It was on 81st and Columbus Avenue. At that time Columbus Avenue was a zoo with all the Puerto Ricans. Forget about it. You were life or death walking from there. The gym was on 8th Avenue and 54th Street. You were liable to get killed walking from there. Now, you know, it's a very sheik area. It's the real sheik area of New York now, Columbus Avenue, a lot of fine restaurants. Oh, it's unbelievable now, Columbus, beautiful. Well, when I lived there it was a tough area, boy, I'll tell you. Then we used to walk from 81 st and Columbus. One block was Central Park West. I used to do my roadwork, run every morning in Central Park around the reservoir. Well, I came down to New York and I trained at a famous gym called Stillman's Gym. It 10 was owned by a gentleman by the name of Lou Stillman. He was an unbelievable character, rough, tough guy. I trained in Stillman's Gym. We had two rings. He used to charge 50-cents to come in and watch training. Kid Gavilan trained there and Jimmy Carter trained there, everybody who was anybody. And this Lou Stillman was very tough. When you came in the gym and you had to wait to go in the ring to box, you had to wait your turn. And it didn't matter if you were a champion of the world or whether you were a four-round fighter. You had to wait your turn. And he didn't care who you were. He was a tough guy, this Lou Stillman, nice guy. And there was only one ring? Two rings. And the announcer announced now training in ring number one Sugar Ray Robinson or whoever it was might have been there that day, you know. Sugar Ray trained there on occasion but not very often. He trained up in Harlem in his own gym. So as a sparring partner for someone who is nationally known, a national fighter, how often are you in the ring with this person? Oh, you might be in the ring with him every day two rounds or three rounds. So there were other sparring partners as well? Oh, yeah. Yes. Correct. How much could you earn being someone's sparring partner? Oh, you're liable to get twenty dollars a round or ten dollars a round. And that was enough money to live off of? Oh, no. My manager used to support me. He used to sit; they all used to hang out in Jack Dempsey's restaurant. He had a restaurant at 49th and Broadway. He was a wonderful man. He was the most humble guy you'd ever want to meet, Jack Dempsey. I used to love to go there every few days to get my money to eat and everything and I'd sit around with Jack Dempsey, you know. That was a thrill. He used to sit in the first table in the window and everybody used to come by and watch him. They'd walk in and get his autograph. His table was right at an all-glass window on Broadway. So tell me who Jack Dempsey is. Jack Dempsey was a great heavyweight champion of the world. He won the title from Jess Willard. He knocked out Jess Willard. And he lost the title to Gene Tunney. That was a big 11 upset. That was the fight that is known as "The Fight of the Long Count." He knocked down Tunney and Tunney got up at the count of ten. A lot of people to this day say that he never did make it; that he really got counted out. But that is known as "The Fight of the Long Count" between Gene Tunney and Jack Dempsey. So do you think that Gene Tunney probably got some rest while he was down in the count? Well, I don't know how much rest you get in ten seconds when you get hit by Jack Dempsey of all people. But he was a wonderful person, Jack Dempsey. But Jack Dempsey lost that fight? Yes. And Gene Tunney was a gentleman. I sat next to Gene Tunney the night that Rocky Marciano won the Heavyweight Championship of the World, September 23rd, 1952. I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in Philadelphia Municipal Stadium. I was sitting in the first row. It wasn't my seat. I was sitting with Rocky's kid brother, Louis Marciano, who I played football against in high school. He played for Brockton High. He got grabbed by th