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Bob Arum: The Mob stayed away from me, thought I was an undercover federal agent

Bob Arum sat down to discuss a lot of what he’s seen in boxing over the years, including the final days of the Mafia’s influence over the sport.

Tyson Fury v Otto Wallin - Weigh-In Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has been around the sport of boxing a long, long time now, and he’s got a wealth of stories to tell. He’s also still willing to do a million interviews, and share what he’s seen, heard, and learned over the years.

In an episode of The Real Fight with Cynthia Conte, Arum sat down and talked for over 90 minutes about the sport and his involvement and, as the episode promises, “some of the greatest and most iconic moments in boxing history.”

You should absolutely listen to the full episode, it’s great, and here’s a small sample of Arum discussing some of the old days in the sport, when it was well known that the Mafia controlled at least a large part of what went on in the sweet science.

“The only fighter at that time that wasn’t mobbed up was Muhammad Ali,” Arum told Conte, “because he was involved with the Nation of Islam, and the Mob guys didn’t want to get involved with the Nation, because they had never seen anything like that. It wasn’t worth it to them. Their involvement in boxing was less to make money than to be big shots and be in the sports scene.

“For example, you get these multi-billionaires who own baseball teams and basketball teams and football teams, and it’s not their real primary business for many of them, but it gives them a lot of prestige. Well, Mob guys in those days had connections to different fighters and different enterprises, not necessarily for the money, although the money was important. It was because it made them big shots.

“So when the Nation of Islam reared its head with Ali, it wasn’t to their advantage to continue like they were before, dominating boxing, because it became all crazy and complicated.”

Arum described how over time, the Mafia’s influence waned, as fighters found more legitimate sponsors and people to back their careers.

“Gradually, it shifted from a mob-controlled sport to a sport that the mob would keep away from, because they didn’t want to get involved,” Arum said.

“And when I got involved in boxing, after I left the U.S. Attorney’s Office and started representing Ali, the Mob stayed away from me because they all believed I was still a federal agent, undercover. They were all scared of me. Some of them still believe it! Don King believes it!”

Again, take a listen to the episode, there’s a lot to hear from Bob, and even if you aren’t a fan of his, necessarily, he can spin a yarn with the best of them.

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