THE GREAT WHITE HYPE
By Jack Newfield - Published November
Volume. One - Originally printed in the VOICE
Vol. XXIII No. 41 "The Weekly Newspaper of New York, October 16, 1978
Cat Davis is a kinky media phenomenon, a product of the Great American
Hype Machine, just like Tiny Tim or Jerry Rubin. She has been profiled by
People magazine. She has been interviewed on the Today Show. She
participated in the Superstars, a trash sports show on ABC-TV, Cat is a lady
boxer who is white, blonde, and pretty.
Cat is also not what she appears to be. And her manager-boyfriend, Sal
Algieri, stands accused of trying to fix her fights, of controlling a fake
"commission" that regulates women's boxing, and of using phony
names for her opponents. When Algieri boxed professionally himself, 15 years
ago, he admitted throwing a fight.
Moreover, Davisís last bout--staged June 7, 1978 in Georgia, a state
that has no boxing commission-- was apparently promoted by her own lawyer--an
unethical conflict of interest. Catís opponent, a "gym rat" from
Chicago named Ernestine Jones, says she was told by Algieri to lose, but,
instead, she knocked Cat out. Jones is a black woman.
Ernestine's purse was a $535 check made out to her manager. Payment on
the check was stopped by the fight's promoters, Robin Suttenberg, who was
Catís lawyer at the time. Robin claims she was not "the actual
promoter," that the actual promoter was Arthur Appleman, under the name
Pyramid Promotions. Arthur Appleman is a lawyer who happens to share the
same office, room 1066 at 233 Broadway, with Robin Suttenberg. Appleman
admits that he and Suttenberg "are very close friends." He admits
Robin signed the canceled check for Pyramid Promotions but insists that she
"has no legal connection to Pyramid Promotions. I am the only officer
But the incorporation papers on file with the state list Suttenberg's
name as the lawyer. Robin Suttenberg says she represented Cat Davis for two
years working on a lawsuit that ended in victory last week, when the New
York State Athletic Commission grated Cat Davis a license to box in this
state. But Suttenberg told me this week: "I am no longer Cat Davisís
Why would she withdraw at the moment of triumph?
"Algieri and Cat never never paid me. They owe me my fee. And I can't
find them. They don't have a phone. "They don't have a phone
because they never paid the phone company either.
Cat Davis and Sal Algieri have a good scam going. Using the rhetoric of
women's rights they think they are going to get rich. Algiera says he is
negotiating a three-fight television contract with a network, worth hundreds
of thousands of dollars. He says a Westchester promoter is offering him a
lot of money for a bout in December. On September 20, the day after the
athletic commission gave Cat her license, her picture was in the Metro, the
Daily Press, and the News World, and all three papers reported she was
undefeated. In the Metro, Steve Serby, football writer for the New York
Post, described Algieri as "a former North American welterweight
The official records of the New York State athletic commission show that
Algieri had six professional fights, of which he lost five, including his
Serby also quoted Algieri as saying he spent "more than $8000 in
court fees," which is news to lawyer Suttenberg.
The same day that Cat Davis got her license, two black women also got
licenses to box--Tyger Trimiar and Jackie Tonawanda. Cat's skills are now
open to question. Trimiar and Tonawanda have authentic talents, but they are
black and have not been invited to be photographed by People magazine, or
box in Westchester in December. Or even get their picture on the cover of
Ring magazine, as Cat did last month. (The story was under Algieri's
byline." Like the great black male fighters of other eras, from Peter
Jackson, who John L. Sullivan ducked, to Sam Langford and Harry Wills, who
Jack Dempsey would never face, they are less marketable, and less equal.
Also, Trimiar and Tonawanda first applied for licenses two years before
Cat Davis but with much less publicity. Tonawanda's lawyer, Stanley Solomone, says Cat's lawyer, "just copied my (legal) papers."
CATíS LAST BOUT
The Cat Davis/Ernestine Jones fight in Atlanta was a one-sided mismatch.
Jones knocked Davis down five times and the contest was stopped at the end
of the third round. After the fight, in the dressing room, Algieri made
various complaints and alibis. He said Cat was sick and drugged. He said her
opponent should have been disqualified for pushing. But, to her credit, Cat
Davis said: "Don't make excuses, Sal. I lost. It was a fair fight,
and I lost. Don't make excuses."
But Algieri saw all that money going down the drain, all the television
offers for his "undefeated" product vanishing. He had to do
something to salvage his gimmick.
Five days after the fight, Jack Cowen got a telegram in Chicago. Cowen, a
respected boxing veteran, is the manager of Ernestine Jones. The telegram
said that the result of the fight was officially being changed to "no
contest" because of dirty tactics, and that Cowen, "Connie
Smith," and trainer Randy Tidwill were being "suspended for six
months." The telegram was signed by Al Gallello, "chairman of the
Womenís Boxing Federation."
The Womenís Boxing Federation exists only on a letterhead and a
post-office box. The WBF letterhead also lists Sal Algieri as an
"adviser." Until recently, the WBF and Algieri shared the same
post-office-box address in Lodi, New Jersey. Boxing Illustrated magazine
refuses to publish WBF "ratings" because they are phony. And Al
Gallello is a close friend of Algieri's according to athletic commission
records, he was Algieriís manager 15 years ago. The WBF is a flagrant
front and is not recognized as having any legitimate standing by the New
York State Athletic Commission.
Jack Cowen was naturally furious that Algieri was trying to tamper with
the legitimate result of the June 7 bout. And, on August 25, 1978, Cowen
gave a notarized affidavit to the New York State Athletic Commission. The
affidavit says, in part:
"Two days prior to the fight, Mr. Algieri made several attempts to
myself and Randy Tidwell for Ms. Jones to lose the bout, stating she
"had to lose" in order that Mr. Algierís television arrangements
would not be affected by a loss. Mr. Algieri also stated that if Ms. Jones
lost, it would mean a television appearance by one of our other female
Cowen has also told the New York commission that he was instructed by
Algieri to give Jones the name of "Connie Smith" for the Atlanta
bout. The Atlanta papers and the wire services did report that "Connie
Smith" defeated Davis that night. The real Jones who knocked Cat out
had only had one professional fight before, and she had lost it. Cowen
thinks he was asked to use the name "Connie Smith" because there
was another female boxer by that name, and it would look better on Catís
ENTER FLASH GORDON
This whole cynical, Marx Brothers version of Frankie Carbo was exposed by
Flash Gordon. There are dozens of paid, professional sportswriters in New
York City. But not one of them took the time to look behind the hype of Cat
Davis. Some of them even went along with it, thinking it was "good
copy." But not Flash, the Tom Paine of the sweet science.
Flash writes and distributes his own mimeographed boxing newsletter and
program from his low-rent apartment in Sunnyside, Queens. He buys all the
out-of-town papers for the fight results and keeps the most accurate career
records on boxers. It was Flash who first revealed the phony records used by
the fighters in the now disgraced Don King ABC tournament last year.
Flash, who looks like a Ď60ís hippie freak, can usually be seen
outside Madison Square Garden on fight nights selling his program. His
newsletter is informative and distinguished by a passion to expose the
dishonest elements of boxing. Flash will not talk to professional
sportswriters because he thinks they are all on the take. Flash will not
accept free press tickets from promoters to preserver his own independence;
he buys the cheapest seats for fights and watches them through binoculars.
In his June 29 newsletter, Flash wrote:
"An outrageous and crooked scenario to defraud, by a gang of rat like
"Loony Tune" characters from the New York-New Jersey area, has
been uncovered by this program. After handling many complaints from various
managers across the United States, we feel it's' time the antics--rest
comical, yet now which have turned to theft, swindle, and racketeering, must
be made public to save future suckers from entering the same trap with the
Ďcheese,í namely their money on the line, and/or boxers." (Ron Rapoport, the Chicago sportswriter, has also written an excellent expose of
Flash went on the reveal that most of Cat Davis' opponents have boxed
under phony names, and that Cat has "knocked out" the same
opponent four times under different names. Flash also pointed out that womenís
boxing in California and Nevada is legitimate, competitive, and different
from what he calls Sal Algieri's "dive caravan."
SAL ALGIERIíS FIXED FIGHT
Last week, when Cat Davis got her boxing license from the athletic
commission, Sal Algieri expected to pick up his managerís license at the
same time. But Algieri did not get it because the commission is now
investigating his conduct when he was a professional boxer in the early
On November 26, 1962, Sal was knocked out by Rocky Gattelari in Sydney,
Australia. After the fight Algieri admitted he lost on purpose. On December
19, 1962, Algieri was questioned by the New York Athletic Commission about
his dive. The transcript of that session still exists in the files of the
commission, and I read it this week. In it, Algieri admits that he agreed
before the bout to lose in the second round.
In the interview Algieri also admits that his various claims of being a
former Golden Gloves champion, of being "the New York state
bantamweight champion" are totally false. Question: "You are a
four-round $50 fighter, is that correct?"
Algieri: "Thatís right."
Algieri also admits his true professional record is five defeats and one
victory. He never boxed again after this interview.
The athletic commission has had one other prior contact with Algieri. In
1976, he picked up an application for a license and gave the commission a
five-dollar check. The check bounced.
Sal Algieri says Cat will box on December 6, at the White Plains County
Center. The state athletic commission, however, which is doing an excellent
job protecting the ticket-buying public, will look very closely at the name,
record, and management of any prospective opponent. Also, the commission is
not going to license Algieri until the investigation into his background is
complete. And it is possible boxing fans wonít pay to see Algieriís "dive
caravan." Only 200 people bought tickets to the Atlanta bout, and Pyramid
Promotions lost $9000 on the fiasco. Jack Cowen has gone to the FBI, and
that agency is now investigating Algieri under the Interstate Transportation
to Aid Racketeering statute of the criminal code. Meanwhile, Ernestine
Jones, who is black, poor, and still unpaid, is
training in Chicago and hoping for work.