Harry Markson was involved in the promotion of boxing matches for 40 years, from the time of Joe Louis to the time of Muhammad Ali. Born in Kingston, New York, Markson graduated from Union College and worked as a sportswriter for the Bronx Home News. In 1933, he became a part-time publicity man for Madison Square Garden. Four years later, he became publicity director for promoter Mike Jacobs and his 20th Century Sporting Club. At that time, Jacobs was the premier promoter in boxing, handling Joe Louis's fights and other major New York bouts.
In 1948, Jacobs made Markson managing director of the 20th Century Sporting Club. When the International Boxing Club (IBC), controlled by James Norris, replaced Jacobs and 20th Century as the promotional entity at Madison Square Garden, Markson took a top position with the IBC. An anti-trust ruling eventually forced Norris to untangle himself from a web of interlocking entities, and Markson became the top executive in charge of boxing for the Madison Square Garden Corporation. In 1968, he became president of Madison Square Garden Boxing, Inc. He held that position until 1973, when he retired to a consulting position.
Although Norris and his organization were associated with organized crime figures, Markson managed to avoid their influence. He helped schedule the two championship fights which opened the new Madison Square Garden: Joe Frazier-Buster Mathis and Emile Griffith-Nino Benvenuti. He also played a key role in the staging of Ali-Frazier I at Madison Square Garden in 1971. In 1963, Markson received the James J. Walker Award of the Boxing Writers Association for long and meritorious service to the sport. A lover of classical music, Markson brought an air of refinement to an often crude game.
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Excerpted with permission from 'The Boxing Register' by James B. Roberts and Alexander G. Skutt, copyright © 1999 by McBooks Press. All rights reserved.
Born: Mar. 10, 1906
Died: Nov. 10, 1998