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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

It's Really Not a Gamble to Remake This Film Again

September 02, 1998|RANDY HARVEY

"Body and Soul," starring John Garfield as a corrupt boxer whose fortunes in the ring are tied to gamblers' fortunes out of it, was made in 1947. The movie was remade in 1981, with Leon Isaac Kennedy, and is now being three-made with Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini.

There's a reason it is still with us, more than half a century after Abraham Polonsky wrote the original screenplay. It remains relevant.

Outside of a an occasional ear biting, positive drug test or mismatch like the coming one between Evander Holyfield and Vaughn Bean, it has been awhile since boxing was involved in a major scandal, although word is that one might soon surface.

But for those who care about boxing, sirens went off last week when Steve Springer's story in The Times detailed some of Oscar De La Hoya's gambling losses in Las Vegas.

De La Hoya admitted he had once turned a $20,000 stake into $500,000 while playing baccarat, then lost $200,000.

Some people close to him, however, say that De La Hoya, like most gamblers, leaves more money in Las Vegas than he brings home. His promoter, Bob Arum, and financial advisor, Mike Hernandez, are concerned enough that they've asked some casinos to put a $25,000 limit on De La Hoya.

De La Hoya isn't happy about that but it is best for him.

It also is best for boxing.

The casino sports books in Las Vegas are as clean as--in some cases cleaner than--churches. They have too much to lose if there is a suspicion that contests are fixed.

It is hardly inconceivable, however, that an astute gambler who frequents a sports book would, upon hearing an athlete had lost several big bills in the casino, offer to pick up his marker in return for a favor.

In a boxer's case, he wouldn't even have to lose a fight. All he might have to do for the gambler to win is make sure a fight ends in a specific round or goes whatever distance required to satisfy an over-under bet.

I've known De La Hoya since the early '90s and have seen nothing in his character to indicate that he would succumb to that sort of temptation.

The same goes for Michael Jordan. But when his gambling losses became public, NBA Commissioner David Stern summoned him to his office to explain the implications not only for Jordan but also for professional basketball.

A perception, even if it's a misperception, is often more important than reality, Stern told him.

Because boxing doesn't have a commissioner who can speak with anything resembling moral authority, De La Hoya and the sport are fortunate that he has wise people in his corner to deliver the same message.

*

Babe Ruth died in 1948, 13 years before his home run record was broken by Roger Maris. . . .

Maris died in 1985, 13 years before his record came under attack by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. . . .

Maris hit his 61st home run on Oct. 1, 1961. . . .

McGwire was born on Oct. 1, two years later. . . .

Tracy Stallard, who threw the pitch that Maris hit for his record home run, celebrated a birthday Monday--his 61st. . . .

Maris had a secretary named Kennedy, McGwire has a secretary named Lincoln. . . .

According to the New York Daily News, Michael Eisner lost $39 million in Monday's stock market "correction." . . .

Does that mean Disney can't afford Mike Piazza? . . .

Around the country, Dodger fans are unfairly dissed for their lack of baseball knowledge. . . .

But they, unlike Met fans, know enough to cheer Piazza when he comes to the plate. . . .

Met fans are learning what Dodger fans knew, that Piazza is a good man to have on their side in a playoff race. . . .

Or have you forgotten that he hit .406 with eight home runs and 27 RBIs last September? . . .

Dave Dombrowski as the Dodger general manager? Isn't he the guy in Florida who signed Bobby Bonilla to the four-year, $23-million contract? . . .

Now, it's the Dodgers who are stuck with two more years and $11.8 million of that deal. . . .

You can't even give Dombrowski credit for persuading the Dodgers to take Bonilla in the Piazza trade because the Marlin general manager had nothing more to do with it than Fred Claire. . . .

When the mercury hits 100, a young man's thoughts turn to ice hockey. . . .

The Kings and Ducks report for physicals Sept. 12 and begin working out the next day. . . .

In a recent television interview with Newy Scruggs of Channel 13, the Kings' Sean O'Donnell said he still can't think of anything he would have done differently in Game 3 of the playoffs against St. Louis last year. . . .

To refresh your memory, he retaliated against Geoff Courtnall, drawing a five-minute major penalty and giving the Blues the momentum to score four goals within three minutes of a 4-3 victory. . . .

Let's see, Sean, how about if you had waited until the next game to go after Courtnall? . . .

It might not have been the macho thing to do, but the Kings would have still been alive for a Game 5. . . .

Sometimes, you just have to count to 10.

*

While wondering if Mike Tyson's anger therapist has considered another line of work, I was thinking: I won't argue if you mention Roberto Clemente and Vladimir Guerrero in the same sentence, there is a Charlie O'Brien, Maris should be in the Hall of Fame.

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