Aragon Suspected of Fixing Fight, February 1, 1959
February 1, 2009 | 10:00 am
Los Angeles Times file photo
Art Aragon in training, Oct. 14, 1949.
The referee of Aragon's fight against Charley Sawyer at Hollywood Legion Stadium recommended that the purses for both fighters be held up pending an investigation. Aragon won on a fourth-round knockout.
"I warned Sawyer after the first round, 'I want an honest effort,'" referee Tommy Hart told The Times' John De La Vega. "No one can hit you on the shoulder and knock you out."
Hart said there was "possible collusion."
De La Vega said Sawyer seemed to fight harder in the later rounds, "actually fighting back when stung by some pretty solid Aragon hooks. While it looked good at the time, the point was that Sawyer had been forced to put out."
Aragon was no stranger to controversy. This incident didn't even rate a mention in his 2008 obituary by The Times' Lance Pugmire. Here's one paragraph summing up some of his other boxing troubles:
"Tommy Campbell testified he "threw" a 1950 knockout loss to Aragon. Boxing officials claimed [Jimmy] Carter sandbagged his first fight against Aragon on a Mafia figure's orders, and the California Athletic Commission investigated judges who awarded Aragon a disputed decision over Chuck Davey in 1954. Aragon was later convicted of offering opponent Dick Goldstein $500 to fix a 1956 fight, but the verdict was overturned on appeal."
By the end of the fight against Sawyer the crowd was booing loudly, not an unusual emotion at Aragon's fights.
"You ever get booed by 10,000 people? It's exciting," Aragon told The Times' Earl Gustkey. "I liked it even better when I beat ... some guy the crowd loved and then I'd look out at 'em, give 'em a big smile and the boos would be even louder. I loved that."
The Times reported in April that Aragon's manager had asked the state Athletic Commission to return $2,000 that had been withheld. "No evidence was produced that Aragon did anything less than his best against the aging Sawyer," The Times reported. It's unclear if that was the commission's view or someone not quoted directly.