By: Sean Crose
It’s pretty much common knowledge that the mob and boxing had a long standing connection. And, although gangsters are no longer known todominate the fight game, names like Owney Madden and Frankie Carbo will alwaysstand out for having tarnished the sport’s reputation. Now another famousgangster, or former gangster, has come out with some rather revealing storiesand opinions regarding the sweet science and organized crime. Sammy “The Bull”Gravano was about as big a mobster as one could find. Connected to nineteenmurders, he stood as underboss of the powerful Gambino crime family up untilthe early 90s, when he decided to testify against his boss, notorious mobsterJohn Gotti.
Now in his 70s, Gravano is out of jail and going public in abig way. He recently was the subject of a terrific, if not disturbing,interview with Patrick Bet-David, where he talked aboutGotti actually putting a hit out on famed promoter Don King. As Gravano tellsit, he had a fighter who he wanted to have face Mike Tyson during Tyson’sprime. “He was a tough fighter,” Gravano says of the possible opponent inthe interview, “and he was a little bit over the hill.”
Someone Gravrano refers to as “a street guy” was sent toKing, who was promoting Tyson at the time, in order to generate interest. Tohis credit, the controversial King, who had done time in prison himself, didn’twant to get involved with the Gambinos. “I’m not doing any of that bullshit,”Gravano quotes King as saying. Taking the news of King’s refusal back to familyboss Gotti, Gravano was given a pat order. The “street guy” was “to go back,make another appointment (with King), and kill him.” Gravano expressedsurprise, but Gotti claimed the “street guy” should return to King and “hit himwith a proposal” that would essentially stand as an offer King couldn’t refuse.“If he says no,” Gravano quotes Gotti as saying, “take a gun out and shoot him.”
Fortunately for King and the world of boxing, the hit neverwent down. Gravano claimed the “street guy” got cold feet and disappeared. Leftwithout a hit man, Gravano had no interest in pursuing a matter he wasn’t crazyabout to begin with. “I’m definitely not going after him,” Gravano reflectswith a laugh, “because this is insane now. We’re hitting a guy because hedoesn’t want to do a deal? We’ll be hitting guys every other week.”
Yet Don King isn’t the only figure Gravano talks about inthe interview. “Teddy Atlas is an asshole,” the former hit man says toBet-David. Gravano, who liked to box, was once questioned by Atlas: “Are youafraid?” Gravano said no. “He took it,” Gravano goes on to say, “to a differentlevel, meaning that’s cowardice.” While admitting Atlas is “a tremendoustrainer,” Gravano also presents a personal challenge on camera.
“Teddy,” he says, “come down and put the fucking gloves onwith me, I’ll show you how scared I am of you. And you’re a fucking bitch.”
It ain’t Shakespeare – but it gets the point across.