Gangsters have been around boxing for ever. They were there in silk stockings in English fields of two centuries ago, baying at Georgian bareknuckle heroes. When prizefighting moved across the Atlantic, they lurked in the shadows of the gaslight. From the gold fields to New York, on riverboats, in bars and the veverated place that was to become the fight game’s spititual home, Madison Square Garden, scoundrels flocked to the fights.
Whe boxing took ahold in the Garden, just after the First World War, a new wave of criminals moved in: the Mob. It was then that Prohibition gave street legitamacy to organised crime right across America; and by the time Joe Louis arrived to breathe excitement through a country ravaged by the Great Depression, the wise guys were firmly entrenched at ringside.