No Dance Tonight: The Bizarre Cancellation of the BKB Championship Fight

Last year there were numerous false starts getting a bare knuckle boxing championship event off the ground. But none of them failed in as spectacular a fashion as the one that was supposed to have taken place today.

Champion Bobby Gunn and challenger Shannon Ritch have been set to square off in a BKB championship for over a year and a half. But one disappointment after another kept them from meeting. Finally, it seemed frustration had set in to such an extent they decided to just go ahead and do an event on their own. Nobody’s getting any younger and it seemed like it was now or never.

On October 20th, Shannon reported he’d formally challenged Bobby and that Bobby had accepted. On the 23rd, Shannon posted a video in which he stated “I want to test myself against the best. I know you’re the best. I will come to anyplace you say. You name the time and place. I will be there.” Bobby replied the same day, telling Shannon “You’ve already acknowledged when you challenge a man you have to go over to where that man is. Very soon you’ll be getting a time and location.”

The next day Bobby named the date as November 17th. He also referred to Canada as being the general location, though later it became clear an exact location remained very much up in the air. Still, on October 30th, Bobby announced the fight would be available by pay-per-view through streamingvideoprovider.com, a do-it-yourself service. This was to be a no-frills match, the meeting of two battlers who were done with waiting for complexities to be worked out and just wanted to settle who was the best.

So far, so good. But then, in one big hurry, the whole thing went so far south it’s probably at the tomb of Captain Robert Scott by now. In the late night of November 7th, Shannon’s camp suddenly announced Bobby had backed out. Shannon explained that on November 6th they’d presented Bobby with a contract involving a pay-per-view company that Shannon’s camp had come up with. Bobby would later say he did not expect a move like this and that he had serious reservations with the details of the contract anyway. For example, one provision states “ST7, LLC [the pay-per-view company] will have an exclusive two-year rights, with an option for additional years (1-1-1-), for any worldwide Bare Knuckle Boxing live streaming event opportunities….” Bobby hesitated at being tied to anything for at least two years when they’d originally discussed just getting together as men to settle who was champion and leaving it at that. He also was concerned the contract did not name a venue, city or country where the event was to take place.

Then, less than 48 hours after Bobby saw the contract and refused to sign it as written, Shannon’s camp said they were done negotiating and the fight was off. We asked Shannon about postponing the date and getting everyone back to the table in a relaxed manner. After all, it takes more than two days to hammer out the details of a contract involving so many parties (four altogether, two companies and two individuals), exclusive rights, and potentially large amounts of money. But Shannon replied by saying “Nope done with this guy.” So a grand total of 18 days elapsed between the announcement & acceptance of the challenge and when efforts to make the fight happen were called off.

Something seemed a little funny with the way everything had played out. Bobby’s head liaison with the Shannon Ritch camp was long-time associate Joe McEwen, more commonly known as Joe Mack. Joe had carried out the bulk of the negotiations on behalf of Bobby. But strangely, the moment negotiations broke down Joe went publicly on Twitter complaining that Bobby had backed out of the fight, adding the hashtag #EXPOSED. In the same post was a screen shot of a communication from Shannon to British boxing promotion UBBAD apologizing to them for trusting Bobby. Later, Bobby posted information that suggested Joe had thrown his allegiance over to UBBAD this past summer, and the November 17th event had actually been an effort by Joe to financially entangle Bobby with UBBAD, discredit him, or both.

As the two camps continue to threaten each other and accuse the other of backing out, one thing is for sure. As of now, there is no fight between Bobby Gunn and Shannon Ritch, and it doesn’t look like there ever will be.

Update: Joe Mack responded to our story by saying there’s no truth to the accusation of collusion with UBBAD, calling Bobby’s information a “conspiracy theory.” He also assured us the contract they offered Bobby was for a legitimate, legal event and he saw no good reason for Bobby to reject it.

The Police Gazette as Premier BKB Sanctioning Body: How It Began

In June 1880, Paddy Ryan defeated Joe Goss in West Virginia in a bare-knuckle fight and claimed the championship of America. But, prize fighting being illegal, there was no respected organization that could officially sanction this claim. So uncertainty about who was the American champion remained. John L. Sullivan then challenged Ryan, but Ryan did not immediately accept. He said West Virginia authorities were hunting him for participating in a prize fight and, besides, Sullivan had yet to post a forfeit. Enter Richard K. Fox and the National Police Gazette.

Fox offered to sanction and facilitate a match between Ryan and Sullivan. The April 16, 1881, issue of the Police Gazette explains: “To settle this matter, Richard K. Fox, proprietor of the POLICE GAZETTE, offers to match Sullivan, the Boston giant, to fight Paddy Ryan at catchweight, according to the new rules of the London prize ring, for $1,000 a side and the heavy-weight championship of America. He will also offer a champion belt—fac simile of the belt Heenan and Sayers fought for—to the winner. The trophy is to represent the championship of America, and the winner of the belt will have to defend the trophy, according to the rules that governed the champion belt of England. All matches for the belt to be made at the POLICE GAZETTE office, and Richard K. Fox is to be final stakeholder in all matches and to select a referee…. Richard K. Fox means business, and is eager and anxious to find out who is the champion pugilist of America.”

The same article also suggested the fight—and Ryan’s training camp—could be in Canada, so Ryan could avoid his legal problems. But when the fight did take place in February 1882, it was in rural Mississippi, though still illegal. John L. Sullivan won and the Police Gazette declared him American champion of all boxing. And thus began the Gazette‘s position as not just a sports magazine, but the premier boxing—as well as bare-knuckle boxing—sanctioning organization in America, later the world. The belt Fox had produced was made from 12.5 pounds of solid silver and gold with eight diamonds, including two in the eyes of a fox head. It remained the emblem of world boxing champions, both bare knuckle and gloved, until after the turn of the 20th century.

When gloved boxing became legal in 1892, the Police Gazette suspended the use of its championship belts as representing bare-knuckle (BKB) champions. Now, with BKB making a comeback, it was natural for us to reinstate the Police Gazette belt as the signifier of world BKB champions since the last time there was an official BKB world champion it was the Police Gazette that bestowed the title. In February 2016, we passed the management of this title to Scott Burt of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in recognition of his immersion in the subject and the singular work he’s done in the field.

The new Police Gazette bare-knuckle champion belt, produced by the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame, will be fought for November 17th between champion Bobby Gunn and challenger Shannon Ritch—the first time since July 1889 the Police Gazette heavyweight belt will be bestowed following a BKB match. Welcome back!

The Police Gazette world-champion belt makes an appearance in the November 1, 1884, issue.

Police Gazette Bare-Knuckle Champion Belt To Be Defended November 17th!

(See updates below the main article.)

Did a Simple Police Gazette Tweet Trigger the First BKB Title Defense in 128 Years?

World bare knuckle boxing champion Bobby Gunn will defend his title against challenger Shannon Ritch on November 17th in Canada. Access through Pay-per-view is planned.

After a series of disappointments over the past two years, it appears a match has finally been set and the Police Gazette championship belt for bare-knuckle boxing will be contested for the first time since 1889. The Police Gazette has authorized the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame to administer the belt, and BKBHOF president Scott Burt said Monday in a video statement, “It can’t be a world-title fight unless the Holy Grail of all belts is on the line. We are going to put a big emphasis, a great big mark on this fight between Shannon Ritch and Bobby Gunn.”

So how did things come together so quickly after so much frustration in recent years? Chalk it up to two fighters who are just sick of waiting. But the spark seems to have been a routine tweet by the Police Gazette on October 20th. In it we posted a picture of the “Police Gazette Heavy-Weight Champion Prize Ring Belt of the World” as it appeared in 1894. Shannon Ritch, inspired to action by the image, later replied to our tweet and reported, “I have challenged Bobby Gunn to defend his bare knuckle title / he has accepted!! Waiting on venue and date! But it’s going to happen.” We quickly replied to Shannon, saying “We fully approve this match-up. The sooner the better!”

Three days later, activity heated up. On Monday morning Shannon issued a video challenge to Bobby Gunn in which he said “I want to test myself against the best. I know you’re the best. I will come to any place you say. You name the time and place. I will be there. Let’s get on this. Let’s toe the line.” That afternoon Bobby replied with a video of his own. He said “Fair play to you. You’ve already acknowledged when you challenge a man you have to go over to where that man is. Very soon you’ll be getting a time and location. I welcome your challenge with arms wide open, pal. You’re gonna get it, Shannon Ritch. You got the fight, pal. Let’s get it on now.” Later that day Bobby revealed a bit more regarding the date. “In about 1 month we will rock and roll.”

The exact rules will still need to be agreed upon. London Prize Ring rules, under which John L. Sullivan fought, allow stand-up grappling and throwing, though no attacking when a man is down and no striking with anything other than bare fists. But bare knuckle fighting in recent years has generally been closer to standard modern boxing, just without any hand coverings. The hands have to be completely bare.

On Tuesday evening, Bobby announced the fight will take place “in Canada on native land November 17th private invite-only non-disclosure event that will be streamed on Pay-per-view.” He added it would be “real BKB no hand wraps.” On Wednesday morning Shannon asked the Police Gazette “Are you on board with the fight between Gunn and myself? Will the Police Gazette sanction the title?” To which we replied “We’d approve this match if you fought underwater, as long as NO HAND COVERINGS. The rest is up to Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame.”

For his part, Scott Burt of the BKBHOF stated on Tuesday, “belt only on line if legal.” Last night Scott confirmed his position, saying he’s “just waiting to hear exact location so as to confirm it’s legality as it was when passed it to Gunn as a result of his 2011 fight.” On August 5, 2011, the Yavapai Nation just outside Scottsdale, Arizona, sanctioned a bare-knuckle bout between Bobby Gunn and Richard Stewart under the laws of the Nation. Bobby emerged the victor and claimed the bare-knuckle world championship. In 2014, the BKBHOF under Scott Burt sanctioned this claim by presenting Bobby with their championship belt. In February 2016, the Police Gazette under current publisher Steven Westlake authorized the BKBHOF belt as representing the Police Gazette championship, thus ending a nearly 124-year suspension of the Police Gazette belt signifying world bare knuckle champions. As the Police Gazette was the last organization to officially sanction world bare knuckle championships, this made Bobby Gunn the lineal BKB champion after John L. Sullivan. And now Shannon Ritch wants that title.

Shannon is confident everything is in order. Yesterday afternoon he reported “Big things cooking / just finished interview with Stayton Bonner with Rolling Stone Magazine! The super Fight is on!!” Watch for updates here as they develop.

Today’s Police Gazette and BKBHOF world-championship belt in bare knuckle boxing.

UPDATE 10/31: Bobby Gunn has announced Pay-per-view arrangements for the BKB world championship event on November 17th. The price is $9.99 before the date of the event. Those wishing to reserve theirs can go here.

UPDATE 10/29: Tempers are already flaring in the run-up to the November 17th super fight for the bare knuckle boxing world championship. On Friday challenger Shannon Ritch taunted champion Bobby Gunn, saying “enough talk – bobby just show up !man to man! You better not duck me!” To which Bobby replied “My pal, you can say all the insults you want I promise you as sure as the sun rises tomorrow morning you’re going to get what you ask for.” Shannon retorted “You better show up! No excuses! 100% healthy or injured you better show up.” But Shannon wasn’t done. He next turned his ire to Scott Burt and the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame, which controls the issuance of the Police Gazette championship belt, the belt that signifies the lineal BKB champion after John L. Sullivan. Scott has said the fight needs to be considered legal in the jurisdiction in which it occurs. Shannon reacted to this uncertainty by first stating “I want the Victory! The win means more than a cheap belt!” But then got more personal, saying “So funny when someone thinks they are bigger than they are (Scott Burt) make me laugh! I’ve fought all over the world. Your organization (BKBHOF) is made up.” Scott replied with “No matter BKBHOF or Police Gazette agrees or disagrees w/folks opinions, we ALWAYS show respect. #Class.” Shannon then proceeded to argue his case over legality and the rules. “Guess if it’s on Indian reservation that will make it legal. Although John L Sullivan’s fights were illegal – hmmm.” And “Yes all john l Sullivan fights were illegal.. lol at BKBHOF.” Regarding the rules, Shannon pointed out that Sullivan’s BKB fights included stand-up grappling. “BKBHOF, your all about Sullivan! All his fights were grappling and boxing – R we going to have same rules? That’s right up my alley!” Scott has already announced the fight will be regular stand-up boxing with no wraps or coverings of any kind on the hands or arms. And there will be no rounds. But grappling is not included.

From our perspective, Shannon is correct that all of John L. Sullivan’s BKB fights were illegal at the time they took place and that they included stand-up grappling and throwing. As for the legality, when gloved boxing became legal in 1892, the Police Gazette suspended the use of its championship belt as representing BKB champions, and continued it as the emblem of gloved champions. Now, with BKB making a comeback, it was natural for us to reinstate the Police Gazette belt as the signifier of world BKB champions since the last time there was an official BKB world champion it was the Police Gazette that bestowed the title. Last year, we passed the management of this title to Scott Burt of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame in recognition of his immersion in the subject and the singular work he’s done in the field. The Police Gazette is many things, boxing being one of them. Outsourcing the boxing aspect to someone who is focused on that one thing will end up being better for everyone in the long run. We want to see action. And as we’ve already said to Shannon, the Police Gazette doesn’t care if you guys want to fight under water. But it would be better for the sport in the long run to have things be reasonably legal. As of today, Scott has received assurances and has no knowledge that the fight will NOT be legal. So as of now, all systems are go for the belt to be bestowed. As for the rules, our position is that the rules are whatever the two camps agree on as long as the fighting is stand up and there are no hand coverings of any kind.

UPDATE 10/27: Scott Burt announced the ground rules for the bout. It will be “A stand-up, toe-to-toe fight. Bare knuckle; not a speck of tape from your shoulder to the tip of your fingers. No rounds, unless there is TV viewing involved. Then we will alter the rules.” See his full video statement here.

Police Gazette Movie Review: Papillon (2017)

Police Gazette publisher Steve Westlake just got back from TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) where he attended the world premiere of Papillon, the new action/adventure film starring Charlie Hunnam, pictured below with Mr. Westlake.

Since pretty much all prison dramas, by their nature, are set in one location, “epic” is not normally a word you would attach to them. Even The Shawshank Redemption, which spanned a long period of time, was constrained by space to such a degree it could not have the grandness of scale one thinks of when using the word. But if there is such a thing as an “epic prison drama,” Papillon is it.

This story, based on the real-life memoirs of Henri Charrière, spans a long period of time, but also encompasses multiple locations in two hemispheres, as well as numerous escape attempts. There’s an epic “feel” to the story that’s just not possible in other prison dramas.

In the story’s telling, Danish director Michael Noer has pulled together such wonderful set pieces, I think it’s possible this movie gets Oscar nominations for production design, cinematography and costume design, not to mention sound mixing, which is top notch and provides icing on the cake for the already excellently choreographed fight scenes. For acting, Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek give fine performances, but the real find here for American audiences is Roland Møller who is transfixing as Papillon’s escape-colleague Celier.

This movie is endlessly being compared to the first adaptation of Henri Charrière’s memoirs. Some comparisons are maybe interesting and some maybe unfair. But that movie came out 44 years ago. In the end, 90% of the actual ticket-buying audience will never have heard of the original Papillon, let alone seen it. So the new one really needs to be judged on its own merits.

On that note, some have criticized the portrayal of jazz-age Paris as overly idyllic, a fantasy that never actually existed. I happen to love this approach. The depiction of a colorful, noisy, vibrant Paris provides the perfect contrast to the bleakness to come and gives it a dream-like quality that you can image Papillon sees in his sleep during his most desperate moments.

One minor criticism I might have of Papillon’s character development might be it’s never made clear exactly what motivates him to endure the years of solitary confinement and the other horrors. What gives him the strength to carry on and remain sane? This is only a minor concern since it’s easy to chalk it all up to pure pride and ego. From the beginning, Papillon is portrayed as selfish and self centered, someone who believes he’s smarter, stronger, and better than others, particularly his jailers. He’s the type who will survive with his wits intact just so he can spite the warden—played by Yorick van Wageningen—and anyone who thinks they have him beaten.

This personality trait is also at the heart of Papillon’s most important character arc. In the beginning he is only looking out for himself, using others to get what he wants. But this changes during the course of his relationship with Louis Dega (Malek). Papillon starts by using Dega only for his money. But as the movie progresses, Papillon more and more often risks his own personal well-being coming to Dega’s aid. This, even more than the escape itself, is the core of the story.

The movie, as a movie, also contains a sort of arc of quality that parallels Papillon’s arc of conscience. It starts out with what some might call a touch of superficiality and cliché in the writing and performances. But perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, all aspects of the filmmaking rise in quality as Papillon’s character and affection for Dega develop. There is a fight scene in the shower—one of the perfectly rendered fight sequences—and it feels as though everything from that point forward enters a higher level of expertise. Acting, dialogue, pacing, depth of feeling all kick up a notch. So a superficial person finds his depth and connection as a superficial movie does the same? A bit too metafictive? Okay, moving on.

A word about blood and guts. As I already mentioned, the fight scenes are very well done and even include one with a fairly graphic disemboweling. But, this being set in the French culture, you can’t have a complete violence profile without a good guillotine scene, and this movie provides a corker.

On a serious note, in the question-and-answer segment following the screening I saw at the Toronto International Film Festival, star Charlie Hunnam was asked if he thought the depiction of solitary confinement in the movie was relevant in today’s American society. Hunnam replied they had thought about that during production, and they hope the studies and debate about that method’s use today will continue to a sane resolution. Not all of us are Papillon.

There’s a lot to think about with this new telling of the Papillon story, and the more you think about it, the more this movie will grow on you.

Rating: 4 1/2 Police Gazette medals

Movie-Review Rating Explanation
Five Police Gazette medals: You will think of this movie every day for the rest of your life.
Four medals: A well-crafted work of art.
Three medals: Some parts don’t work, but gets the job done.
Two medals: Garbage in, garbage out; bad approach executed with technical skill.
One medal: Don’t see. It’ll make you want to die, and assisted suicide is illegal.

The Police Gazette Line™: Trump Edition

Back in May we posted an article explaining how Donald Trump is eager to be impeached and removed from office. We wrote, “Trump the performance artist continues. In fact, he is the Andy Kaufman of presidents. And any minute the audience is going to become so frustrated and outraged, he will have to be escorted off stage with security protection.” In recent days, he’s shown he’s eager to accelerate that process. At this rate, a fast-track impeachment or a resignation in a huff will happen sooner rather than later. So with that in mind, we are bringing back our Police Gazette Line™ betting odds exclusively for this situation.

As of August 16th, we calculated a statistical impossibility that Trump will be president on March 4, 2018—considering a 1-in-100,000 chance a virtual impossibility. So our odds cover each week until then. We will update only if something happens we feel significantly changes the odds.

The second column shows the odds Trump will still be president on that date. Considering the original posted odds on August 16th, any day Trump is president past December 2nd is a victory for Trump supporters!

Week of:
08/20/17   99:1
08/27/17   92:1
09/03/17   85:1
09/10/17   78:1
09/17/17   71:1
09/24/17   64:1
10/01/17   57:1
10/08/17   50:1
10/15/17   43:1
10/22/17   36:1
10/29/17   29:1
11/05/17   22:1
11/12/17   15:1
11/19/17   8:1
11/26/17   1:1
12/03/17   1:4
12/10/17   1:9
12/17/17   1:24
12/24/17   1:54
12/31/17   1:299
01/07/18   1:999
01/14/18   1:2,499
01/21/18   1:4,999
01/28/18   1:7,499
02/04/18   1:9,999
02/11/18   1:29,999
02/18/18   1:49,999
02/25/18   1:74,999
03/04/18   1:99,999

The Police Gazette Top 5 Most Underrated Beatles Songs

Will Not Find Our No. 1 on Any Other List.

Various publications have floated lists of the most underrated Beatles songs. But strangely, they all miss the most obvious choice. Part of the problem may lie in their definition of “underrated.” To us the term refers to the breadth of the gap between public opinion and the song’s actual quality. So a song need not be great. It just needs to be a lot better than people think. With that, here are the Police Gazette five most underrated Beatle songs of all time:

5. “Within You Without You”

This is a fairly well-regarded (though not universally) George Harrison composition from the Sgt Pepper album. Its status as underrated comes mainly from two things: 1) It completely revolutionized Western popular music. Harrison used exclusively Indian instruments, Indian musical styles, and lyrics with Eastern-religion themes, but pulled in just enough familiar Western constructions to make it palatable. It was the first time anything like that had been done in pop music and opened the flood gates to the incorporation of World music into Western pop. 2) Harrison did all this without embarrassing himself. It’s a high-wire act that a lesser talent would have stumbled on.

4. “You Can’t Do That”

This one has suffered, perhaps, from its mildly misogynistic lyrics. But that aside, it is the Beatles’ best example of a “cow bell” song—“Drive My Car” notwithstanding. And everyone loves cow-bell songs. So since it’s the Beatles doing it, therefore, it has to be great. There are versions of this song without any cowbell, but they didn’t need Christopher Walken to tell them to put it in. Nothing got past these guys.

3. “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey”

This song from the “White Album” finds John Lennon entering the phase where half his efforts feel like throwaways. Except, since it’s Lennon, nothing is a throwaway. There’s so much going on here, we can’t discuss it all. Suffice to say Lennon invents punk rock with this song, yet it still lends itself to becoming a killer New Orleans boogie when covered by Fats Domino. Unbelievable.

2. “It’s All Too Much”

George Harrison was clearly a secondary song-writing talent within the Beatles (he was the Tony Lazzeri to Lennon and McCartney’s Gehrig and Ruth). But every once in a while he could come up with one that was an unquestionable equal to the big guys’. “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” come to mind. Somehow, though, “It’s All Too Much” regularly slips through the cracks when considering George’s AAA-rated contributions. The song is a soaring anthem that never loses steam, raising tension and energy to a level it never relinquishes. But it still has room for folksy lyrics like “Show me that I’m everywhere, but get me home for tea.” An all-time classic.

1. “Hold Me Tight”

The most underrated Beatles song of all time achieves its distinction through a combination of its being consistently at or near the bottom of most people’s rankings of the Beatle oeuvre and the fact that if you only gave it a chance, you’d find it’s actually perfectly crafted and doing exactly what the Beatles intended it to do: It’s a giant ball of gooey fun that still really rocks. One Beatle scholar has posited that EVERY Beatle song contains some sort of intentional goof or in-joke. To us, “Hold Me Tight” represents the purest musical form of that theory. Relax and give this song a few careful listens. If you still hate it, then you probably also hate fun, the Beatles, and music in general.

Muhammad Ali and the Beatles meet as both were on the verge of taking over the world. After this photo shoot, Ali called the Beatles “sissies.” Very talented sissies.

Stein Hoff Gets Display at Ripley’s

The Fox II on Display at Home of Original Ocean Rower.

In 1896, the Police Gazette sponsored the first people ever to successfully row a boat across an ocean. Last year we were a sponsor of Dr. Stein Hoff as he attempted to duplicate the feat of fellow countrymen George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen. Stein would have been, at 70, the oldest ever to make the row. But a violent storm stopped his progress about three quarters of the way to England. Then for months, his boat the “Fox II”—named after Harbo & Samuelsen’s “Fox” which was named after Police Gazette publisher Richard K. Fox—drifted lost in the North Atlantic. Finally it turned up (see our previous story) and is now on display at a mall in Farsund, Norway, the hometown of Frank Samuelsen. In addition, Ripley’s Believe It or Not has created a display commemorating Stein’s voyage at their Odditorium in Key West, Florida.

The Fox II at the AMFI Farsund Shopping Mall in Norway.

The Police Gazette‘s sticker is battered, but still visible.

Stein’s daughter Elisabeth (left) and wife Diana in Farsund next to the monument to Harbo & Samuelsen.

The Ripley’s Believe It or Not display created for Stein at the Odditorium in Key West, FL.

Police Gazette’s First New “Hitler Is Alive” Article Since 1972

One Last Piece of Hitler-Suicide “Evidence” to be Debunked.
Police Gazette Calls on Russian Federation to Release Hitler’s Jawbone.

The first two seasons of the History Channel show Hunting Hitler have done a spectacular job of demonstrating not just how Adolf Hitler could have escaped Germany at the end of World War II, made it to South America, and lived there in secret for many years, but also how many top-ranking Nazis did exactly that.

Beginning in 1951, the National Police Gazette became the first major news outlet to propose the same thing. So with the third season of Hunting Hitler set to air late this year or early next, we’d like to address the one bottleneck yet remaining in the scenario of Hitler’s escape: the activities in and around the Führerbunker in late April and early May of 1945.

The first salvo in the Police Gazette’s “Hitler Is Alive” series appeared in the September 1951 issue.

Let’s review: Adolf Hitler escaped Germany at the end of World War II and lived for many years in South America. One of the facts that leads us to this conclusion is there is no evidence proving otherwise.

The one possible piece of evidence that could maybe lay the question to rest is a chunk of jawbone with real teeth that the Russians claim they recovered from Hitler’s body in May 1945, though they never publicly said so until 1968. This item has a 72-year chain-of-evidence problem that might be insurmountable. But even so, it—and accompanying artificial dental work—is the last remaining piece of physical evidence that’s being used as proof Hitler died in Berlin in 1945. As such, the Police Gazette is calling on the Russian government to finally release the jawbone and teeth so they can be independently examined and DNA tested. If the Russians are so sure they are Hitler’s, what do they have to lose?

Our letter to the Russian embassy requesting release of the Hitler jawbone.

Until then, we are left with the investigations conducted by the Police Gazette from 1951 to 1972, and those conducted currently by Hunting Hitler, that reveal it wasn’t just possible but likely Hitler escaped.

For 23 years after the end of World War II the Russians were cagey when the subject of Hitler’s body came up. At times they would even say they never found a trace and considered him still alive. The Police Gazette, of course, took that ball and ran with it through the end zone, into the clubhouse, and out of the stadium. So maybe it was 17 years of unrelenting “Hitler Is Alive” exposés by the Gazette that finally got the Russians to throw in the towel and say in 1968 that, yes, actually they had found Hitler’s body on May 4, 1945, two days after they entered the Reich Chancellery. And not only that, they performed an autopsy on it on May 8th. And not only that, they located two of Hitler’s dental workers, got descriptions of his dental work, and had him positively identified by May 11th. Case closed.

So with everything buttoned up, they did the next logical thing: bury the body at an address about 70 miles west of Berlin. But wait, there’s more. Two years after the shocking revelation that they had Hitler’s body all along, the Russians decided to completely incinerate it and scatter the ashes. Or maybe not completely. Maybe they saved pieces of the jawbone and a piece of the skull. In 2000, they put on a public exhibit of the items. The skull piece was there. But there was only a photograph of the jawbone and dentures, which were deemed important pieces of evidence that must remain protected.

The items claimed by the Russians to be Hitler’s real teeth, jawbone, and false teeth.

Then in 2009, the skull piece was sent to the United States for DNA testing, and—is anyone surprised—was shown to not only NOT belong to Hitler, it belonged to a woman about 30 years old. So then we’re told, “Okay, that one was found outside the bunker in 1946. So it’s possible it wasn’t Hitler’s.”

After all this, we’re left right back at the beginning. No physical evidence, just the word of the Russians who had 23 years to reverse-engineer a jawbone with natural teeth and various dentures and constructions based on Hitler’s known dental records and interviews with dental staff who’d spent upwards of 10 years in Soviet prisons. Meanwhile, Hitler’s chief dentist Hugo Blaschke was released by the Americans in 1948, but died in 1959, well before the release in 1968 of the Russian bombshell. He’d provided descriptions of Hitler’s teeth, but had never been asked to directly view the Russian evidence.

This is to point out the inherent unreliability of anything released by the Russians, but especially Soviet Russians, and most especially Stalinist Soviet Russians. Some folks might not remember that Josef Stalin and the Soviet Union were Kim Jong Un and North Korea. Their main forms of communication were deception, unreliability, and belligerence. To take their word for anything without independent examination of physical evidence is just a non-starter.

So with that piece of non-proof out of the way, we turn to the other source pointed to by those who support the suicide theory: the large number of witnesses who knew about or were in the area of the alleged suicide—though nobody actually saw it happen. For the following timeline we make use of Hitler’s Last Day Minute by Minute by Jonathan Mayo and Emma Craigie, themselves supporters of the suicide theory.

In the days prior to the event, Hitler was going around telling everyone in sight he was going to commit suicide. At 1:30am on April 30th—the fateful day—he tells “about 25 guards and servants.” At 2:00am he tells a group of doctors and nurses. At 2:45pm he tells a group of secretaries and “other staff members.” Of course, he’s already informed his closest aides and assistants: Martin Bormann, Heinz Linge, Otto Günsche, Joseph Goebbels, etc. But why would it have been necessary to personally tell so many other people unless the object was to establish a cover story for when these people eventually got captured and interrogated, most likely by the Russians?

So if a fake suicide was planned, when might a switch have taken place? In 1951, the Police Gazette turned up indications that a live double had been substituted the evening before who had been subjected to a procedure called a “silk-cord operation” by Hitler physician Dr Ludwig Stumpfegger, the same doctor who would later administer lethal doses of cyanide to the Goebbels children. Upon further analysis, the most likely point of the switch is at the moment of the “suicide.” The farther back a switch takes place, the larger the number of people who would have had to be complicit and/or the more convincing a double would have had to be during meetings with top generals and aides. It would work best if no one was required to lie under interrogation and the double was already dead.

However, just by way of logical exercise, if anyone in the bunker were brought into the scheme, Linge would have been the first choice, followed by Bormann and Günsche. Bormann is a special case who will be dealt with later, but Linge and Günsche were both captured by the Russians and spent 10 years in custody. If the two of them had any knowledge of Hitler’s faked suicide, you can bet the Russians would have gotten it out of them. Which leads to an interesting side issue. Suppose Linge and Günsche were in on the scheme and subsequently spilled the beans to the Russians. Would the Soviet Russians under Josef Stalin have taken that information and run with it to the British and Americans? Not on your previous existence! To this day it is common Russian practice to hold any proprietary information close to the vest. If they knew—and the other Allies didn’t—that Hitler was still alive it would have given Russia an intelligence and geopolitical advantage they would not have blown by making that knowledge public. Then, during the course of their 10 years as Russia’s guests, Linge and Günsche would be coached about what to say when they were returned West—not unlike what actually did happen with Hitler dental workers Kaethe Heusemann and Fritz Echtmann. Their usefulness would be greater as repatriated citizens of West Germany, spreading the gospel of Hitler’s suicide, than in remaining prisoners in Russia.

In the end, however, if Linge and Günsche had been in on the plot it’s very unlikely they would have been allowed to remain in a position where they’d be captured. The last thing Hitler would want is for Stalin, himself the psychopathic leader of a country that just lost tens of millions of its citizens to the Nazi invasion, to be turning over every rock on earth looking for him. Linge and Günsche would have either been killed or themselves provided with a safe route of escape.

So the most likely scenario goes like this: At 1:30pm—exactly two hours before Hitler’s supposed suicide—the bunker’s switchboard operator Rochus Misch spots in a hallway of the Chancellery above the bunker the head of the Gestapo Heinrich Müller with two “high ranking” SS officers. He fears they are there to “silence” any witnesses to the coming suicide—Hitler himself has already told over three dozen people that’s what he’s planning to do. But no silencing ever takes place. The reason for Müller and the officers’ presence is never explained. Müller is seen in the area of the bunker again the following day. Then he is not seen. And he is never seen again.

The Gestapo, which was a division of the SS, was Nazi Germany’s secret police, specializing in security and counterintelligence. The SS as a whole was Hitler and the Nazis’ domestic-military protection and security force. If anyone in the country knew the safest routes and safest places at any given moment, it was Müller and high-ranking officers of the SS. If anyone in the country knew how to secretly move dead bodies in and live bodies out, it was Müller and high-ranking officers of the SS. And here they were, showing up two hours before Hitler’s planned “suicide” and then disappearing the following day, never to be seen again.

Therefore, with the planning and assistance of the Gestapo and SS, the switch happens at 3:30pm on April 30th. With Hitler and Eva Braun set to bite their respective cyanide capsules at the same time, it would not have been difficult for him to trick her into biting hers while he remained alive. With Eva gone, the Hitler lookalike is brought in, possibly already dead. In discussions with one of his physicians Dr Werner Haase, Hitler had decided on a very odd method for his and Eva’s suicides. She was to simply bite on the cyanide capsule. But he was to bite on a cyanide capsule at the same moment he shot himself in the head. Cyanide is very effective and instantly lethal. Why bother with the literal overkill of also a gunshot to the head? If Hitler had been so concerned with not leaving parts of himself that could be used as trophies, why take an unnecessary step almost guaranteed to leave your blood all over the room?

One effect of cyanide is it causes the face to contort, making the person look not quite like who they usually are. It’s likely the double had been given cyanide not just to kill him but to contort his face and chalk up any lack of resemblance to the real Hitler to the effects of the poison. Then the gunshot is most likely a signal that the switch has been made and it is time to move to the next steps. The real Hitler has been spirited away by the time Linge and Bormann enter the room at 3:40 or so. Linge, who was closest to the body, later said he did not even look at Hitler’s face before wrapping him in a blanket.

Besides Linge and Günsche, Martin Bormann was the closest to Hitler prior to the Führer entering his study for the “final” time as well as after the “suicide” took place. Bormann, of course, disappeared after escaping the bunker the following day. Artur Axmann, a member of his party who was captured by the Russians, claimed to have last seen Bormann dead near Lehrter train station. But no body was found. The Police Gazette subsequently turned up evidence Bormann was living in South America, a situation the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory had great fun with by having Bormann, as a “Paraguayan gambler,” claim to have found the fifth golden ticket. Even more magically, Bormann’s remains turned up near the train station in 1972, after 27 years of searches found nothing. There were traces of soil on the skeleton that were not common in that area of Germany. But this is all a subject for another article.

One final direct eyewitness at the time of the “suicide” was Magda Goebbels, mother of the six children who were about to be killed. She was allowed to see Hitler briefly just after he entered his study. But the next day she committed suicide with her husband Joseph, so no testimony from her was possible.

So here we are. All the relevant testimony and documents that we have are unreliable. But there is one piece of alleged physical evidence, the jawbone with teeth. If real, this is the one item that could provide incontestable proof that Hitler died. However, because of the number of years that passed between April 1945 and when its existence was revealed, not to mention the number of years between then and now, the question of when and where Hitler died might remain open regardless. And that, as well, would be the subject of another article….

Hitler’s Führerbunker study almost exactly how it looked in April 1945.

Visit Amazon and get all the Police Gazette‘s original “Hitler Is Alive!” reporting collected together in one place.

Police Gazette Publishes New Plays by Famed Off-Broadway Playwright Leonard Melfi

Also Contains Shocking Details of Leonard’s Mysterious Death and Disappearance.

Two plays by world-renowned Off-Broadway playwright Leonard Melfi have just been published for the first time. The Violinist is the last play Leonard ever completed. It’s full length, just as stunning as any of his earlier works, and also one of his most autobiographical. “The Son of Redhead” is a mesmerizing one-act tragicomedy Leonard wrote in the 1980s. But he gave away his only copy and never thought to track it down. Years later, brother John did the tracking and found it.

Also included is “Leonard’s Final Odyssey” by his brother John, which reveals all the details surrounding Leonard’s mysterious death and disappearance. What happened could have been—and was—something from one of Leonard’s own plays. Leonard Melfi died in New York City on October 28, 2001, but was not laid to rest in the Melfi family plot in Binghamton for almost six months. The tragedy, the mistakes, the cover ups, the lies, the desperate search for a beloved family member, friend, and shining light of American avant-garde theatre… all revealed here for the first time.

Leonard Melfi is best known for his one-act “Birdbath”—which plumbs the depths of love, desire, and ambition—and his contribution to Oh! Calcutta!, the longest-running revue in Broadway history. In praise of Leonard, superstar playwright Edward Albee said “Years ago, there were many serious and daring individuals in Greenwich Village under 30 as well as young playwrights, myself included. It was a wild and vital time, and no one was more vital than Leonard.”

You can get The Violinist and The Son of Redhead: Two Plays by Leonard Melfi at Amazon. Also like the official Leonard Melfi Facebook page. And read this review of the book in the Wilmington StarNews.

Let the Boss Battle Begin!

The Trump Presidency Enters Its Endgame.

Donald Trump’s real goal as president becomes more clear with each passing day. All he wants is for the rest of us to “Do your jobs!” Political organizations, mainstream media outlets, and a majority of the general public have been failing this nation increasingly for decades. Trump just sees himself as the defibrillator shock to the body politic that will get it to wake up and do what it’s supposed to.

In August 2015, we published an endorsement of Donald Trump for president. Our analysis concluded if anyone could cut through Washington paralysis and accomplish significant progress, it was Trump. It was assumed the—often hilarious—craziness that characterized the campaign would be exchanged for a sober determination to get down to serious work at exactly 12:00pm on January 20th.

He had demonstrated a long track record of successes and big accomplishments with his own company. But it’s a certainty he did not achieve those successes by employing the same bull-in-a-china-shop methods he’s been using since he became president. In fact, the pro-wrestling hysterics that Trump mastered during the campaign have continued with not so much as a hiccup. It’s become clear Trump’s intention is not to lead us out of the wilderness, but rather to continue wallowing in it.

We’ve quoted Don King who said “Trump is not a divider; he’s an exposer.” During the campaign Trump hatched out all the poisons that lurked in the political mud of America. With glee, he pulled out and shoved under our noses all the culture’s dirty laundry. But this ironic exposing has continued unimpeded. Except now that he has the power of the presidency, such activities don’t merely reveal social disorders, they create real-life suffering and consequences. Trump shows not a single hint of altering this approach, and some fear the worst.

Many have compared Trump and his associates to Hitler and the Nazis. Such comparisons, of course, are highly overused. As German chancellor Angela Merkel recently had to point out to Turkish president Erdogan, calling someone a Nazi trivializes the actual crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis. But sometimes a comparison might be apt if considering certain elements. For instance, Adolf Hitler was not a military leader who seized power in a coup. He was a skilled politician who rose to power through a democratic system. Appealing directly to both the aspirations and paranoias of the citizenry, he accused the current government—the Weimar Republic—of being weak and ineffectual, particularly in the face of unfair treatment by foreign countries. He promised to return Germany to its former greatness, to reverse the influence of non-Germans within its borders, and painted intellectuals and journalists as liars. This campaign allowed Hitler to build popular support, though not a majority, but enough to get within range to take advantage of a quirk in the electoral system that would put him over the top. Sound familiar?

But here is where the similarity with Donald Trump ends. Just because someone uses the political tactics Hitler used in order to get into power, it does not necessarily make them Hitler in practice. It was a textbook political approach that most Republicans and a few Democrats have been using a light version of for decades. That Trump put the method on a quintuple dose of steroids and blasted it out of the shadows for everyone to see does not make him the only one to have used it in American politics. In fact, we are kidding ourselves if we look at Trump as an anomaly, that everything will be alright once he goes away.

From the day Donald Trump descended his escalator into the presidential campaign we knew exactly what he was up to. So our endorsement was based on everything that had happened prior to that day. For 15 years before becoming ruler of Germany, Adolf Hitler was screaming about the Jews, how war was good for men and built their character, and about the Jews some more. In other words, everything he eventually ended up doing. From the day World War I ended, Hitler dedicated his life to the dream of getting rid of Jews and seeing the German military kick ass on Europe. This was his sole occupation. So anyone who endorsed this guy by 1933 could not say they didn’t know his intentions.

Donald Trump, on the other hand, was a real-estate developer for over 40 years before he finally ran for president. He didn’t make political statements often, and when he did they were a mishmash of liberal and conservative views that changed almost with the weather. His main focus was his business ventures, which he was very good at. At a young age he became skilled at cutting through obstacles and accomplishing big projects at prime locations in major cities around the world. So it was Trump’s obvious acumen as a successful manager of major projects that we based our endorsement upon. That and the fact that he was also so damn entertaining. “Let us get this straight,” we said. “We get a president who can knock heads in Washington and get things done, and he’s as funny as Don Rickles? Sign us up!”

The reason for our endorsement—as well as many Trump voters’ votes—was the belief that he would bring competent management to the national government. When George Washington became our first president, this was his overarching goal. He wanted to show he could be a skilled and competent manager who made the government work as advertised, and that this would set the template for future presidents. Before the Revolution, George Washington himself had been one of the wealthiest businessmen in the country, a skilled manager of big projects. It was thought Trump would follow in these footsteps. It turned out he had other ideas. We always knew to measure Trump by results and not by the surface craziness. But the only results nearly four months in seem to be incompetence and turmoil. Trump the performance artist continues. In fact, he is the Andy Kaufman of presidents. And any minute the audience is going to become so frustrated and outraged, he will have to be escorted off stage with security protection.

How did we get here? Trump buddy Howard Stern recently theorized that he never expected to actually win the presidency. But he was carried along by a strong sentiment surging through the country—as well as Hillary Clinton’s unrelenting inability to connect with voters—and now he’s mad he won. He entered a political culture that was compromised to its gills. Along the way, he and his followers pointed out the very real, deep-seated failures of the Democratic Party and the mainstream media. And it is these failures that will lead to an ultimate collapse of the country, not anything Donald Trump is doing. If the Democrats and media were doing their jobs properly, Trump would still be on Celebrity Apprentice firing washed-up singers and actors.

As a highly skilled businessman Trump knows how to take advantage of weakness and dishonesty, and American politics offers an ocean of both. The Republican Party is essentially a crime organization, which is why Trump chose to run under its banner. He’s been dealing with the Mafia in New York and Atlantic City for decades; he knows his way around these types. And this is also why those Republicans, such as John McCain and the Bush family, who like to pretend that it isn’t a crime organization “doth protest too much,” while most Republicans fall in line or remain silent.

Most Democrats, on the other hand, are just your garden variety corrupt politicians, in it for the perks and power trips, but who—on their coffee break with nothing better to do—will occasionally do something good for the country. So it was no trick for Trump to find something legitimate to attack Democrats on. He was correct, for example, in pointing out how they pay much lip service to fixing the problems of inner cities, get votes as the lesser of two evils, but then do nothing.

Finally, the mainstream media is crippled and compromised by its addiction to money and access to power. A common complaint you hear is that most of them are “left wing.” Of course they are. People whose job it is to thoroughly investigate and analyze facts will come down on the left-wing side a majority of the time. The problem is that left-wing vs right-wing conflict creates better ratings and, therefore, more money, leaving the mere collection and analysis of facts as a secondary consideration to “balancing” both sides.

Put all of this together and what you’ve got is King Kong stomping through the hinterlands in plain sight on his way to the capital while the groups that are supposed to be our watchdogs and protectors are too busy making deals with each other. This is our current condition, which the Trump campaign, again, correctly pointed out and took advantage of. But instead of trying to fix the condition once he got into power, Trump has continued as the exposer-in-chief. He’s continued to shove to worst of America into our faces, challenging politicians, news media, and the general public to “Do your job!”

So it’s a boss battle he wants; it’s a boss battle he’ll get. His impeachment will make the Clinton impeachment look like middle-school play night—no doubt he’ll go down into the well of the Senate and defend himself. It will get higher ratings than the Super Bowl, which is something he’ll tout every chance he gets for the rest of his life. In the end, the Trump presidency will go down as, by far, the most bizarre footnote in the history of America. But political parties, the news media, and the public in general will come out the other end better and smarter because of it.