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.

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.

Ten-Year Anniversary of Reborn National Police Gazette

Emerging from the Wilderness
Ten years ago today, the National Police Gazette was reborn. The greatest American magazine in history had run for 132 years, from 1845 to 1977, but suspended publication with the January 1977 issue. It entered a wilderness period of 30 years before emerging again on April 8, 2007, as PoliceGazette.US under proprietor William A. Mays. Since then, we’ve been busy with many things. But no matter what we’re up to, the one constant, undeniable thing is the Police Gazette itself, as much a part of the fabric of America as the Constitution or Declaration of Independence. At the time of the January 1977 issue, a National Police Gazette had been on newsstands for two-thirds of this nation’s entire existence.

Over the course of 5,000 issues—inventing almost everything we know about pop-culture journalism along the way—the Police Gazette didn’t just chronicle the American zeitgeist, it helped to create it more than any other media outlet in history. Nothing can ever take away an accomplishment like that. And we are pleased and proud to be the magazine’s current custodian. So without further ado, here are some highlights from our past 10 years:

-In late 2006 and early 2007, our due-diligence research shows nobody had registered the National Police Gazette name or logo or used them in any form of commerce for at least 10 years prior to April 2007.

-Later, working with the heirs of the Gazette‘s last publisher Joseph Azaria, we reach an agreement on previously copyrighted materials and obtain the official magazine archive of original issues—the largest single collection of original National Police Gazette‘s in the world, with the possible exception of the Library of Congress.

Current Police Gazette publisher Steven Westlake, left, with Mitch Azaria, son of last Police Gazette publisher Joseph Azaria, at the transfer of the official magazine archive. Shown are about half of the total volumes.

-PoliceGazette.US goes live on April 8, 2007, and we affix the “TM” designation to the name and logo on every page of the site, which quickly rises to the first page of results in searches for “Police Gazette” and “National Police Gazette.”

-From the first day we feature originally written news and sports items, opinion, reprints from the archive, and merchandise. First-day headlines include “Beats Attacker With Own Infant Son” and “The Truth About the Popularity of Reality TV.” (In the 10 years since our reality-TV editorial, we’ve entered a new golden age of scripted television. Could our pleas have been heard?) The sports section included “The Police Gazette Line,” betting information on everything from sporting events to the latest celebrity controversies. And all of it came with the unique Police Gazette attitude, which can perhaps best be summed up by the actual fortune-cookie fortune we placed on our news page: “Life is a tragedy for those who feel and a comedy for those who think. :-)”. Some headlines over the next couple years included:

Ex-Chef Dissevers Upper-Crust Beauty
Shot in the Head While Singing Country Music
New Jersey’s Latest Legal Atrocity
Fetus Robber Will Get the Needle
The Schenectady Prostitute

One of the first-day articles. The illustration is by publisher Westlake’s daughter, who now has even better artistic skills 10 years later.

-Then there are the conspiracies. Conspiracy theories these days are all the rage and may even be reaching critical mass. But did you know the Police Gazette invented this too? (Yes, you have the Police Gazette to blame for Alex Jones!) In 1951, the Gazette created the conspiracy theory as pop-culture phenomenon with the first in its very long series that proved “Hitler Is Alive!” (see Books below). Along those lines, in 2008 we provided evidence six months before the financial crash that Captain Smith of the Titanic was Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s illegitimate great grandfather. Later, we proved that John F. Kennedy had actually committed suicide.

-Serious investigation, however, has always been just as important to the Gazette as fun and games (there actually was serious reporting and analysis in the Hitler series you couldn’t find anywhere else). In 2011, we—along with surfing historian Skipper Funderburg—dug into the mystery of “Sandwich Island Girl,” a woman depicted on a Police Gazette cover surfing off the coast of New Jersey in 1888. This is, by far, the earliest image or description of anyone surfing on the East Coast of the United States. But her identity has remained unknown even though she is likely the first person ever to have surfed on the East Coast. Some very recent developments have provided a few more clues, however, which we will present after further research.

-Then, of course, we’re not opposed to a righteous crusade. In 2008, when Maryland farmer Stan Dabkowski was being harassed by government officials over his pig mud-wrestling attraction, we did an exclusive interview with Stan and helped plead his case.

-Finally, because of the incredible impact the Police Gazette has had not just nationally but around the world, we’ve run a research service beginning day one to field the many requests for information from everyone from Hollywood producers, museum curators, and book authors to ordinary people whose relative once appeared in the Gazette‘s pages.

Merchandise and Trade Shows
We’ve offered Police Gazette merchandise from the beginning—posters, T-shirts, mugs, calendars, etc—but made it even more official when we set up booths at the New York International Gift Fair and the National Stationery Show at the Javits Center in New York City.

Publisher Westlake plying his trade at the NYIGF, Javits Center.

Our NYIGF Javits Center display the following year.

Print Edition
From May 2011 to November 2013, we published the National Police Gazette as the premier print alternative monthly in south-central New York State, distributing to 125 locations from the Greater Binghamton area to Ithaca, NY. The focus was on local news, sports, bands, and businesses. But we also snagged national and international scoops such as the exclusive with famed magician Todd Robbins and coverage of the red-carpet premieres of major films Parker and Louis Cyr. Not to mention the exclusive with Steve Perry of beloved band Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, the “official” band of the National Police Gazette. But the Gazette‘s crowning achievement during this time may have been the exclusive nine-part series on Leonard Melfi, the local playwright who went on to become one of the most famous Off Broadway talents of the 1960s and 70s, but then who died a mysterious death that could only be told best by the Police Gazette. An expanded version of the series, as well as an unpublished play by Leonard, will be available in book form this summer.

This print-edition cover features pro wrestler Fit Finlay ahead of his visit to Binghamton, NY. “Use the leg! Use the leg!” Those who were there know what we mean.

But as with many newspapers and magazines these days, the costs of printing and distribution forced us to move the publication entirely online, where we continued publishing great features like Briggs Seekins’s hugely popular series on an upstate New York con artist running fake MMA schools. And we continued promoting local music shows through our event arm NPG Enterprises.

Plus, we continue to put out special print issues from time to time, most recently the one reintroducing the public to the Gazette‘s past, present, and future with the sport of bare-knuckle boxing (see below).

Through our book imprint Police Gazette Publishing House, we’ve put out a number of scintillating volumes such as The Plot to Assassinate Barack Obama, a thriller; Memories of Uncle Gunnysack, a magic-realist masterpiece; and First Impression, a romantic erotica.

Then, in 2016, major publishers Open Road Integrated Media and Mysterious Press released Hitler Is Alive!, edited by current Police Gazette publisher Steven Westlake. Beginning in 1951, the Gazette ran a 20-year-long exposé series proving Adolf Hitler survived World War II and ended up in South America—the same premise driving the History Channel show Hunting Hitler. But, once again, the Police Gazette did it first. Hitler Is Alive! collects the entire series together for the first time and is available through any fine book outlet online.

Bare Knuckle Boxing
For those who don’t know, in late 19th century America the Police Gazette was not just the premier boxing journal, it was also the de facto sanctioning organization for the sport. The Gazette was Don King, the WBC, and The Ring magazine rolled into one. Part of the reason was all forms of competitive boxing were illegal everywhere in the country. But the Gazette and its owner Richard K. Fox didn’t care. They openly presented championship belts to the top boxers, preferring the bare-knuckle style—which Fox and the Gazette considered the highest and purest form of the sport. But when gloved boxing became legal in 1892, the Gazette decided it would go along and suspended the use of its belts as representative of bare-knuckle championships. Fast forward 124 years and the Police Gazette is once again in the bare-knuckle boxing business. We authorized the world bare-knuckle championship belt currently held by Bobby Gunn, and we’ll be building the Gazette back up as the official publication of the sport.

Police Gazette at the Movies
From Charlie Chaplin, Daffy Duck, Some Like It Hot and Andy Griffith to Clockers and Gangs of New York, the Police Gazette has always been a favorite of producers to include in movies and TV shows. And the trend has only continued over the last 10 years. In 2009, the Gazette logo was used multiple times in Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. We wrote the producers a letter congratulating them on their good taste, and the next installment, A Game of Shadows, prominently featured an actual London edition from the 1890s. Then came a call from the Canadian producers of a biopic on famous Quebecois strongman Louis Cyr. Police Gazette owner Richard K. Fox was Cyr’s U.S. and international manager, and the producers needed help with research and materials. Well-known actor Gil Bellows of Shawshank Redemption and Ally McBeal fame played Fox in the movie, which turned out to be a huge success, becoming the highest-grossing Quebec feature-film production in years. More recently, the Gazette has appeared in the Showtime production Penny Dreadful. And yes, we even put a copy of the new Police Gazette into the hands of Jason Statham at the premiere for Parker.

Publisher Steve Westlake, left, with actor Gil Bellows who played 19th-century Police Gazette owner Richard K. Fox in the film Louis Cyr. Bellows holds our latest print edition.

Publisher Westlake, left, and Police Gazette culture editor Judith Excellent flank Jason Statham at the premiere for his film Parker, based on the book written by Westlake’s father. Statham took a genuine interest in our print-edition article describing how Donald E. Westlake developed the Parker character.

It’s been 10 years, but it’s still just the start. Big things are coming for the National Police Gazette, as the next 10 years bear the fruits of labors performed in the first 10. Stay tuned through this website and by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter.

Police Gazette Behind the Scenes with Muhammad Ali

Was Ali Given the Police Gazette Champion Belt in 1974?

In recent years when sports figures won the big event they’d proclaim “I’m going to Disneyland!” When Muhammad Ali beat George Foreman in the “Rumble in the Jungle” on October 30, 1974, to regain the world heavyweight championship, he must have said “I’m going to the Police Gazette!” Because right after his victory he sat down for an exclusive interview and photo shoot with Police Gazette bigs, including legendary Gazette editor Nat Perlow and Gazette publisher Joseph Azaria.

The feature appeared in the November 1974 issue and would be the last exclusive Ali would have with Police Gazette staff, as over the next two years the Gazette would begin to wind down and finally suspend publishing with the January 1977 issue. But Ali’s willingness to share himself with the Gazette so soon after one of the greatest boxing events in history was no doubt a show of respect to the journal that put boxing on the map in the first place. Below is the first page of the article with the photo of Ali that was made public. Below that are outtakes from the same photo session.

But there’s a bit of a mystery to solve as well. Police Gazette lore has it that around this time Muhammad Ali was also presented with the Police Gazette heavyweight champion belt. But we have been unable to conclusively verify whether this happened. Now, with Police Gazette championship belts once again entering boxing currency, it would be nice to know for sure if “The Greatest” ever got his—which he most definitely deserved.

Muhammad Ali appears in the November 1974 Police Gazette. He is reading the August 1974 issue.

Photo-shoot outtake 1: Muhammad Ali reads the article about UFOs in the August 1974 issue. It’s unknown whose leg is in the lower right, but it is known two of publisher Joseph Azaria’s children accompanied the publisher and editor Nat Perlow during their meeting with Ali.

Photo-shoot outtake 2: Police Gazette editor Nat Perlow, left, and Muhammad Ali.

Photo-shoot outtake 3: Nat Perlow and Muhammad Ali. The hand holding the August 1974 issue at left may belong either to publisher Joseph Azaria or another staffer.

Current Police Gazette editor William A. Mays holds (coincidentally) the August 1974 issue in a scene from the new horror film House on Ghost Hill Road.

The Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame Trophy

On July 9th, the National Police Gazette was formally inducted into the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame as the first and only publication from the original era. The impact the Police Gazette and its publisher Richard K. Fox had on the sport of boxing as a whole, and bare knuckle boxing in particular, cannot be overstated.

Pictured below is the Gazette‘s BKBHOF trophy, accepted by current publisher Steven Westlake. During his acceptance speech, Westlake said “If Richard K. Fox were here today he would say ‘Is that all?’” Fox was known for his Stephen Colbert/Howard Stern-style faux grandiosity. But even this was in the service of making a sport thought to be the ultimate in low entertainment seem more refined and deserving of high status.

Shown behind the trophy is an original issue of the Police Gazette that describes the results of the famous John L. Sullivan versus Jake Kilrain bare knuckle boxing world championship.


Proudly and respectfully announced Wednesday, March 23, 2016, at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, by Scott R. Burt, president of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame; Belfast, New York.

BOBBY GUNN; USA, Hackensack, New Jersey (71-0, 71 KOs)
Holder of National Police Gazette-Authorized WORLD Championship Belt
Lineal holder of the National Police Gazette’s Bare Knuckle Boxing World Championship Belt first awarded to Jake Kilrain in 1887 before being famously won from him in 1889 by The Great John L. Sullivan. Gunn is the third man in history to own it. It is now under complete control and authority of BKBHOF President Scott R. Burt, the only man in the World authorized to name BKB World Champions and issue belts representing such.

Top 10 Ranked WORLD Heavyweight Contenders:

1. Danny Batchelder; USA, Glens Falls, New York (44-0, 44 KOs)

2. Kevin Ferguson AKA Kimbo Slice; Bahamas, Nassau (31-1, 31 KOs)

3. Shannon Ritch; USA, Coolidge, Arizona (25-2, 25 KOs)

4. Dhafir Harris AKA Dada 5000; USA, Miami, Florida (47-0, 47 KOs)

5. Sharif Kemp; USA, Atlanta, Georgia (36-0, 36 KOs)

6. Dan Biddle; USA, Hockessin, Delaware (19-0, 19 KOs)

7. Anthony Caputo; USA, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (17-0, 17 KOs)

8. Jamie Hearn; UK, Colnbrook, Berkshire (30-0, 30 KOs)

9. David Whittom; Canada, Quebec City, Quebec (10-0, 10 KOs)

10. Michael Ferry; UK, Newcastle upon Tyne (5-0, 4 KOs)

DANNY BATCHELDER; Glens Falls, New York (44-0, 44 KOs)
Holder of National Police Gazette-Authorized AMERICAN Championship belt
Lineal holder of the National Police Gazette’s Bare Knuckle Boxing American Championship title, last held by The Great John L. Sullivan; he won it by defeating Paddy Ryan in 1882 and was given it by the Gazette. Batchelder is the second man in history to own it. This title is now under the complete control and authority of BKBHOF President Scott R. Burt, the only man in the World authorized to name Champions and issue belts representing such.

Top 10 Ranked AMERICAN Heavyweight Contenders:

1. Shannon Ritch; Coolidge, Arizona (25-2, 25 KOs)

2. Dhafir Harris AKA Dada 5000; Miami, Florida (47-0, 47 KOs)

3. Sharif Kemp; Atlanta, Georgia (36-0, 36 KOs)

4. Dan Biddle; Hockessin, Delaware (19-0, 19 KOs)

5. Anthony Caputo; Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (17-0, 17 KOs)

6. Mark Brown; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (14-2, 14 KOs)

7. Nelson Lopez Jr.; Pahokee, Florida (11-2, 11 KOs)

8. Mike Liberto; Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (8-1, 8 KOs)

9. Ricardo Marquez; Phoenix, Arizona (12-3, 12 KOs)

10. Ruben Albino; Ocean City, Maryland (13-4, 13 KOs)

Lists were derived from extensive research based on witness accounts, quality of opponents, individual fight styles, submitted records, and potential for upward movement.

Scott Burt has been endorsed by the late great historian and publisher of The Ring magazine Bert Randolph Sugar. In February of 2016 Scott was also authorized by the iconic National Police Gazette to be the sole acknowledger of World Bare Knuckle Boxing Champions and sole issuer of belts to represent such. Steven Westlake, the current publisher of the National Police Gazette, stated “The task, honor, and responsibility now belongs solely to Scott Burt, President of the BKB Hall of Fame in Belfast, New York. His unselfish dedication to preserving the sport’s amazing history with class and dignity is impressive.”

From 1880 to 1920, the National Police Gazette was the most important boxing journal in the world. The magazine also sanctioned bouts and issued championship belts before there were official boxing associations. The Gazette through its publisher Richard K. Fox sanctioned the last bare-knuckle boxing championships ever to take place until Bobby Gunn won an approved match vs Richard Stewart in 2011 and then was presented with the current world bare-knuckle-boxing championship belt in 2014 by President Burt of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame. In February 2016, the Police Gazette, through its current publisher Steven Westlake, formally recognized Scott Burt and the Hall of Fame as having the sole authority to issue new bare knuckle championship belts.

Closing the Squared Circle: The Return of Sanctioned Bare-Knuckle Boxing

“The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”

T.S. Eliot probably was not referring to bare-knuckle boxing when he wrote those words. But we do seem to find ourselves in that situation today.

Back in 1877, Richard K. Fox took over the National Police Gazette and soon began featuring boxing within the Gazette’s pages. This was prize fighting, by the London Prize Ring Rules. There were no gloves, no wraps, no protection of any sort from the waist up. And it was totally illegal in every jurisdiction within the United States.

Prize fighting had always been illegal in the U.S. But it was popular nonetheless, until the first high-profile tragedy occurred in 1842. In a match in Hastings, New York, Christopher Lilly essentially beat Thomas McCoy to death. And the combination of a law-enforcement crackdown and the public’s shock at the incident put a pall over the sport in this country for a generation.

With the passage of time, however, the public’s taste for bare-knuckle boxing began to return, and then two things happened. Those things were Richard K. Fox and John L. Sullivan.

Fox’s story can be found elsewhere in this website. But in a nutshell, he was the P.T. Barnum of publishing. He refined sensational journalism to a degree never before approached, and which is still the template for it to this day. Conflict was king, and shocking, in-your-face depictions of activities society preferred to sweep under the rug was queen. Bare-knuckle boxing fit this recipe to a T.

John L. Sullivan, like Muhammad Ali 80 years later, had phenomenal ring skills combined with an uncanny feel for promotion and public relations. Did Fox and Sullivan really hate each other as is commonly thought? After all, Fox was Irish Protestant and Sullivan Irish Catholic. But Ali and Howard Cosell were much friendlier than they appeared on camera. Was it a coincidence that Sullivan and Fox’s conflict produced the greatest boxing matches of the late 19th century, bringing Sullivan, the Police Gazette, and boxing in general to heights no one could have imagined? Don’t bet on it.

In 1889, Fox backed the latest of his challengers to try to teach Sullivan a lesson. Jake Kilrain lost that fight, and Sullivan solidified his hold on the bare-knuckle boxing championship of the world, winning the Police Gazette championship belt. It would be the last bout to determine that championship for over 120 years.

After more than 10 years of Fox and Sullivan’s efforts, boxing was on the threshold of mainstream acceptance. But there was one catch: it had to be gloved, Marquess of Queensberry Rules. In 1892, Sullivan fought James Corbett for the first gloved championship to be held completely legally in the light of day. From that point on, professional boxing followed the gloved path and the bare-knuckle variety was left to the back alleys and dark corners.

But after more than 100 years of evidence, who are the gloves really protecting? The punch taker or the punch thrower? There are not enough examples yet to do a conclusive scientific comparison, but are brain injuries really less common in the gloved version than the bare knuckle? Or is it reversed? One way to answer the question might be to ask which sport has more brain injuries, rugby or American football? Both similar sports. One with no protection, the other with massive amounts of protection. But again, what is being protected more? The recipient of the blow or the deliverer who is so cushioned he can deliver with maximum force each time without worry of doing damage to himself.

With that—and other factors and influences—in mind, bare-knuckle boxing has been experiencing a renaissance. Yet it picks up right where it left off in 1889: as illegal as the day is long. This in spite of the fact that safety precautions are now abundant, so a repeat of a Thomas McCoy incident is remote. Bouts are no longer governed by the London Prize Ring Rules, which allowed stand-up grappling, throwing, and no time limits. If a fighter was able to walk to the center of the ring without assistance the fight would go on. Fighters like McCoy had to rely on his seconds to know he’d had enough and to stop the fight, whereas impartial referees have that job today.

How, then, can a new bare-knuckle championship belt be given without condoning illegal activity? The first Americans have the answer! 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. Gunn emerged the victor and claimed the bare-knuckle world championship, a claim made more official when Scott R. Burt of the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame presented Gunn with a championship belt in 2014.

This belt is the first given to a bare-knuckle champion since Richard K. Fox presented his to John L. Sullivan on behalf of the National Police Gazette in 1889. This year, the Police Gazette officially recognizes the authority of Scott Burt’s belt, bringing full circle a sport that has remained in the shadows for 125 years, and giving today’s fans a chance to “know the place for the first time.”

The Police Gazette Heavyweight Champion Belt

Today’s Police Gazette World Champion Belt Presented by the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame

For more information visit the Bare Knuckle Boxing Hall of Fame at Twitter, Facebook, and the Web.