When a Magician’s Curse Swung Boxing’s Biggest Bout

In 1939, hotshot light heavyweight boxer Tiger Jack Fox was pitted against Melio Bettina for the vacant championship title in his weight class. Fox declared himself ready for the fight, despite mysteriously being stabbed just below his heart by a woman in December of 1938. A bigger roadblock stood in his way: Bettina's manager, Jimmy Grippo, who was also a magician and hypnotist.

“Jimmy Grippo, who manages Melio, is a magician and a hypnotist,” wrote Harry Ferguson of the United Press. “He is planning, it seems, to send his man into the ring in a trance which will make him impervious to a smack on the kisser… Manager Grippo, who never has objected when anyone referred to him as ‘the Svengali of Pugilism,’ intends to make his hypnotism work both ways by putting a hex on Fox. He explains that if he can come face to face with Fox before the gladiators begin gladiating he can send Fox into a trance that will make him helpless against a left to the belly.”  

Grippo's plan worked, and Bettina won the championship. But Fox was the better fighter, and had a long career in the ring after Bettina faded away. So what caused the championship loss? Was it Grippo's hex, or Fox's belief in the magic? Or was it the earlier stabbing that had Fox under a temporary disability that he denied? Read the story of the boxer who lost by a hex at Narratively. -via Digg


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