Watch any old mob flick or certain, select episodes of “Sopranos,” and you can see just how intertwined the sports world has been with that of underground gambling. References to sports gambling lingo are ripe in these works of art, and they also leave you wondering about the extent of potentially illegal involvement when it comes to events taking place nowadays.
Given the intense media scrutiny which surrounds today’s biggest draws when it comes to the sports gambling calendar, it’s unlikely to think that something along the lines of the Super Bowl or a premier MMA bout could be fixed with any real ease. Accessing players or referees attached to such an enlarged event is not terribly logical, and the wage scale for which participants in such events are compensated has grown immensely since the days of decades past.
But history does lend itself to rumors, and such is the case when you look back and consider certain events from prior eras. Players from those times were not paid enough to flatly turn down a lucrative financial opportunity. Many young athletes were also rumored to be tied into the mob from time to time as well, and the inability of earlier media outlets to track known associations and connections leaves the door wide open to a myriad of possibilities.
Quite recently, however, such inclinations have become far more concrete in lieu of the FBI providing historical documentation to one of America’s most famed news outlets. The event being called into question is the famed 1964 Muhammad Ali – Sonny Liston fight, and the speculation is supplanted in a seemingly never-ending string of underworld connectivity.
That title match-up launched a young Cassius Clay into super stardom and also gave him his first opportunity to become a media darling. He was caught on sound bite indicating “I’m the king of the world! I’m the king of the world,” following his win, and Sports Illustrated ranked the event as a part of its top five sports moments in the 20th century.
But while this magnificent sporting scene has lived on in the annals of history for some 50 years, the purity of it has come into question thanks to the involvement of one man whose name might be elusive to most.