Before the second Ali vs. Ken Norton fight
in 1973 I went to Deer Lake, Pennsylvania to get Muhammad Ali
to help me try to free Rubin Carter.
I visted Rubin in Rahway prison I felt he was almost giving up
after seven years of confinement without hope. I put my job on
the line as a Detective in the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office
and I wrote a letter to Gov. Brendan Byrne telling him what I
knew about the Carter case as an investigator.
In Rubin's book, "The Sixteenth Round,"
he stated, "I never missed a chance to tell Ali about his
loudmouth self." Writing about his fight with Ali's sparring
partner Jimmy Ellis in 1965, Rubin said Ali sent Ellis to fight
him because Ali wasn't sure he could do the job himself. Just
boxing talk, but it pissed off some of Ali's people and Ali did
not like it too much at the time.
I went to see Ali and I made a pitch to
him which lasted over three hours and won his heart. The
next day I went public in the New York Daily News which cost
me my job, my home and my family's welfare. I, no one else brought
Ali to Rahway prison to help Rubin.
Once Ali got involved, every Madison Avenue
lizzard jumped on the bandwagon. Even though I went on Johnny
Carson with Ali and Angelo Dundee, and on Dick Cavett's show,
and was the first and only police officer to go public to help
Rubin at such a level of sacrifice, not one mention of me was
made in Jim Hirsch's book about how Ali really came to help Carter.
Rubin, who I thought was my friend, told
the tale of this on the Chet Coppock Newsport Talk show aired
nationally on 3/25/97 and played at least 10 times in repeat
in national telecasts. He said, "If it wasn't for my friend
Ron Lipton I would not be sitting here, Ron is a magnificent
person who has a strong sense of dignity and honor." Yet
not one word of thanks appeared in the Canadians fictionalized
account of the Hurricane.
Robbed of a life's dream
I am the most experenced expert on Rubin's
fighting style because I am his former sparring partner. I am
was an award-winning choreographer on several Muhammad Ali projects.
Dr. Ferdie Pacheco, who was in Ali's corner for most all his
fights, said in July 2000, "Ron Lipton is the finest fight
choreographer in the world." Ali himself said my boxing
choreography was perfect.
Despite all this I was robbed of a life's
dream -- doing the choreography for "The Hurricane"
-- although Carter himself allegedly asked Norman Jewison on
9/27/98 to let me do it and showed him my credentials. I worked
on the project -- watching and creating choreography from Carter's
fight films -- for eight hours a day for months. Finally I was
told I did not get the job simply because I would not make Joey
Giardello's fight look like a racial robbery.
I don't blame Rubin, but sometimes I wonder
if he had fought for me half as hard as I fought for him, if
my dream would have come true.
I remember asking Rubin for a letter to
send to a judge when I was falsely convicted of an assault (now
overturned) for defending myself against an attack by three men
in their 30s who held me for a beating after running me off the
road. I was out of work and needed help desperately for my son
and me. I asked Rubin for a letter and he said, "I'll have
to think about it, I'm busy," and then hung up. When I asked
Joe Frazier to write a letter, he did it in a second. Here was
Carter -- a guy I loved and helped and never spoke disrespectfully
to ever, and gave half my life up for him, and he is helping
strangers all over the country -- and he hesitated to write me
a letter, saying, "Hey man you are always getting into scrapes."
Rubin helped me once by giving me $1500
to pay my rent after I lost my job in the Prosecutor's office
for getting involved in his case publicly with Ali. But I guarantee
you I would not have sold my life out for $1500. I did it out
of love and belief in his innocence, and here I have to go through
a secretary to speak to a guy who I put my life on the line for.
I was never invited to the movie premiere.
Carter and Denzel Washington were invited to come to see me win
a LIFETIME CIVIL RIGHTS ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, but never answered
the numerous phone calls and faxes I sent to invite them. They
went on a book tour with Hirsch instead. Every phone call was
met with a brushoff.
Film's fight choreography looks
The movie about his life has the most amateur,
worst boxing choreography I have ever seen. The Griffith fight
and Giardello fight look so bad. The style of Rubin Carter does
not in any way resemble the way it was. They gave the job to
someone who was a friend of Denzel Washington, Tony Claybon.
He had Washington throwing punches that looked so bad it was
pathetic. They could have had the best, but they did not want
it to be real in any way. I would have never believed someone
could be so cruel and leave their lifelong friend to be abused
by a police department.
Carter knew I did not own a car and had
a sick son, he was making a ton of money and would not even come
out to visit me, even though I visited him for 19 years in jail.
Going on book tours and saving people accused of murder were
more important to him than helping a lifelong buddy raise $5000
bail for a self defense situation. He told me to get to work
on it myself -- he was too busy. His cruelty to me has shaken
my belief in anything good left on this earth.
He lets his secretary give me the brushoff
for every call to him I ever made, but I was there for him when
he had his eye operation, I was there for both trials, I was
there every day visiting him, even when he was in Hudson County
waiting the application for the retrial. I stayed after work
every night to bring him things to comfort him in jail. I got
Ali to put up the $10,000 bail, I brought Ali into the picture
at the loss of my job.
I was the one
leading him into the light after 10 years in prison and went
with him to a hotel in New York afterward. We watched my good
friend and the welterweight champ, John Stracey, fight on TV
while we ate hot dogs together in freedom. All I asked him for
was help getting a used car to take my son to the doctor as I
had no credit and had lost everything. All I asked for was a
letter stating my good character. He hesitated and did not want
to be involved, he said. He was too busy with the book tour and
helping people falsely accused of murder all over the country.
He let me sit in jail six days where I
could have been killed as the only Orange County resident ever
sent to Rikers Island. He wanted me to believe he was innocent
of three murders and I did everything in my power for 19 years
to help him. He said so himself on national TV. I asked for help
in a case involving three men in their 30's who tried to beat
up me, a 53-year-old man, and he tells me he doesn't want to
get involved, he is too busy. I told him I was arrested within
one hour of playing an anti-Semitic tape of the police and was
being harassed so badly, but not one finger did he lift to even
The movie is a separate issue and is not
his fault, but sometimes I wonder how hard he really ptiched
it to Norman Jewison. I have never been wronged so greatly in
my life. His heart must be made of stone to let an old friend
suffer in poverty so badly after losing everything helping him.
But I forgive him. I guess jail did that to him. How can you
not show up to visit your best friend getting a lifetime civil
rights achievement award? He said to me, "YOU DESERVE IT,"
but he never showed despite being told about it for two months.
Not one note at the end of the movie mentioning my lifetime of
work, not one visit from him since 1985 to me or my boy. Even
when he comes to New York I ask him to make sure he visits me.
Seeing me must remind him of the old days, and we would not want
that, would we? So now I don't exist.
I have never heard or dreamed of anyone
treating an old friend so cruelly or abandoning them in such
a heartless way. Even Ali told me once: I don't know what's wrong
with him; doesn't he know you are the one who convinced me to
do this? Yet Carter let Hirsch completely omit me from his book.
When Ali's name comes up, Hirsch mentions George Lois, a publicist.
I mean godammit, Ali would not be there to publicize to begin
with if it had not been for me. What did Hirsch think, that Ali
just materialized out of thin air after what Rubin wrote about
Ali in his book?
Rubin wrote in the acknowledgements that
Ron LIpton was an honest police officer who worked to free me.
Yeah, well where are you now Rubin, ashamed of your buddy because
I'm poor and needed help from a guy who makes $10,000 to $20,0000
a lecture and drives a Mercedes, while I lost eveything from
this case and can't even survive in a decent way, and needed
the choreography job or maybe a visit, or maybe a thank you on
screen. The man doesn't care about me at all, and to realize
that rips my heart out.
Once Ali was involved, he dedicated the
Ali vs. Ron Lyle fight to Rubin, but the people paying for it
never invited Lipton to the fight even though LIpton lost his
job from going public about Carter. Lipton was never invited
to the 4/30/76 Ali vs Young fight where Carter
beat up Carolyn Kelly. Ali asked Lipton why he wasn't in
Vegas for the Lyle fight, and why he wasn't at the fight in Maryland
with Young. When told he was not invited. Ali called up all the
people who came aboard after Lipton created the whole free Carter
movement with Ali and told them he would pull out if Lipton was
mistreated again. Ali also verified his position again in Jan
82 in the NJ Star Ledger see website, when he reiterated that
LIPTON IS THE ONE WHO GOT ME, HE PUT HIS LIFE ON THE LINE FOR
RUBIN CARTER, WHITE MEN DON'T DO THIS, RONNIE RISKED HIS JOB,
HIS LIFE AND HIS FAMILY AND I WOULD NOT DO THIS FOR ANYONE (TESITFY
AS A CHARACTER WITNESS AFTER LIPTON DEFENDED HIS HOME FROM A
RACIST ATTACK) "EX BOXERS TRIAL TO ZOOM IN ON REIGN OF TERROR.
I was found innocent but all of the people who were sucking up
to Ali just let me die alone. I was neve even invited to the
Concert in the Garden but I stuck by Rubin all the way. NOT one
lously mention in a screen credit or Hirsch's book ever was mentioned.
I arrived at Clinton prison the day Carter
was to go to Passaic County Courthouse and I arranged for Ali
to be at the Courthouse. I stayed with Rubin alone with a few
people until it was time to leave. He looked at me and said,
"Buddy, buddy, I will never forget you are the one who got
Ali, and did everything in your power to help me. I will always
be your best buddy." I gave him a hug and said no matter
what happens I will be there until the end.
We left in separate
cars because he was still in custody. I drove straight to the
Courthouse. The picture of me by
Ali's limo shows that I met him there and we
went in together. Ali said I was his main bodyguard for the
day, and I served as such for him and Rubin. (I was head of the
S.W.A.T. team for the Hudson County Prosecutor's Office and the
Hudson County Sheriff's Department and came out first in a class
of 50 at the FBI firearm instructor's school held by the world
famous Ray Piper.)
We went inside the court and I sat next to Ali.
The judge set bail at $10,000 and asked if the defendant could
post the bail. Ali, dressed in black shirt and pants, very quickly
stood up and addressed the court. He said, "Your honor,
I will post the bail." The judge said very well, Mr. Carter
is released on $10,000 bail. I lead
the way with Carolyn Kelly, Ali and Carter behind me, and
they spoke to the press (picture).
We came out of the long corridor from the court-jail. We all
went separately -- Carter with Ali,
me in my car -- to a New York hotel.
The lawyers were there, along with Carter's
family, me and Ali. I sat alone to the side as is my style and
let everyone mob Carter and Ali. When everybody got their nut
doing that, Ali and Rubin came over to me and Ali said, "This
is the man, right here, don't ever forget him, he is my brother
forever." Rubin said, "Oh yeah, he's been with me since
he's a baby." Rubin's wife kissed me and we sat down to
watch John Stracey, the welterweight champ (who still writes
me from England to this day) fight for the 147-pound title. They
served trays of little hot dogs with mustard.
I left after a couple of hours, along with
Ali and his people. I hugged Carter and said, "I hope I
have truly made a difference Rubin, I tried with all my might."
He said I know you did.
he visited me at my home in Rockaway Township to see my son Brett.
He came there with his cousin Bubba, his bodyguard. Something
happened that day when I was alone with him. He went off to the
side with me and I refused what he requested, but it shook me
to the soul. Then I heard about the Kelly thing [beating incident
in Maryland, April 1976] and still backed him up. I know Carolyn.
She likes me and vice versa. I felt bad it happened. Yet when
three men attacked me and I asked him for a letter, he refused
and did not want to get involved. He said, "You are always
getting into scrapes and I am too busy right now traveling."
If he had been in front of me, I might have killed him in anger
and shame, I was so stunned by the treachery and double standard
of his words. At the time in 1999 I was very strong -- not the
light welterweight he used to bang around, but as dangerous as
him and much more versed in the martial arts with a black belt
in judo. I had never been so betrayed in such a callous brushoff
in my life.
George Chuvalo told me that Rubin was living
with his son, which was arranged as a favor to Carter. Chuvalo
is perhaps one of the strongest and toughest heavyweights who
ever lived. He was never knocked out or down in fights with Foreman,
Frazier and Ali; he was just stopped on cuts. One night George,
a dear friend of mine, said his son called him for help because
Carter was drunk and threatened him. George raced down to see
what was up. He could break Rubin in half with one hand, but
did not. He said Carter was crying like a baby saying he was
an alcoholic and out of control since he split with the Canadians,
which I can understand.
I have never seen anyone with a harder
heart than Rubin, who can throw a lifelong friend away in a second
and let them rot and die. When I asked him how he could ever
permit not one mention of me on the screen or in Hirsch's book,
he said, "That's only your selfish ego worrying about shit
like that, it doesn't even matter." Doesn't matter my ass
-- half the world knows I backed him up to the death and my family
never lived to see a simple public thank you, or to see him bring
me to the premiere where Evander Holyfield was. I ONLY REFEREED
HOLYFIELD TWICE AND SAVED TWO FIGHTS FOR HIM BY MY SPLIT DECISIONS
OF ACTION IN THE MERCER FIGHT AND CZYZ FIGHTS. Carter never thought
maybe poor Ron and his son both out of work and starving might
have one nice day in their lives to share this with me. NOTHING,
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING CROSSED HIS MIND TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
I asked him to help me get a used car to
take my son to a doctor and go shopping. Carter was driving a
Mercedes and making a ton of money, his answer, "Naw, I
can't loan anyone any money, gotta go, bye." He hung up
There isn't a scintilla of mercy or compassion in his entire
soul for me or my son. He makes me talk with a secretary who
says he is so busy making money and apperances he doesn't have
time to speak to anyone. Some day he better make an appointment
with God on Judgment Day, and God will not talk to his secretary.
Allah, Jesus and Jehova will be eye-to-eye with him, just like
with all of us, and I would like to hear the explanation for
abandoning me ... not to mention some other more serious events
in his life.