Boxing,  Rahway

Rahway State Prison Title Fight

Rahway State Prison – The Warden Bob Hatrak Era – 1973-1979

Bob Hatrak is a native of Trenton, New Jersey and to this day refers to the city as his hometown. He is a veteran of the corrections industry and has logged more than four decades working at various levels in several corrections systems.

“NBC also wants viewers to understand the importance of the fight program at Rahway, which is one of Gov. Brendan Byrne’s pet projects.”

“We’re not only there to show a sporting event, a fight, we’re there to show that some good things come out of prison.”

New Jersey Governor Brendan Byrne

If the Commissioner was concerned about Scared Straight publicity, then NBC’s reporting didn’t do me much good in the Commissioner’s eyes.

In no small measure, adding to the perfect storm was the publicity we were getting regarding a title fight for James Scott. That was not helping me in the eyes of the Commissioner. He was aware I was advocating for Scott’s title fight Scott and was concerned that I might pull it off based on the publicity we were receiving.

Just after the Richie Kates fight and fitting right into my timeline for a Scott title fight, a story appeared in the New York Times: Jersey Boxing Goes International on March 15, 1979, that had to be of particular concern, boss. I was surprised that Murad allowed me to be blind-sided. He never informed me of his merger with Arum. I later learned he never to James Scott either. Parts of the story are:

“New Jersey joined the international boxing cartel yesterday when Bob Arum, the chairman of Top Rank Inc., was introduced at a Newark news conference as a partner of Triangle Promotions. a New Jersey promoter.”

“Arum said his new association with the Newark‐based promoters who have staged James Scott’s bouts at Rahway State Prison could lead to a light heavyweight title fight at Giants Stadium in July between Scott and the World Boxing Association champion, Mike Rossman of Turnersville, N.J.” 

Wow! That was music to my ears. I was no convinced, more than ever, that Scott would get his chance to fight for the light-heavyweight championship of the world. For the first time ever, I allowed myself to know what Scotty’s life would be like if he became champion. I also thought about how many doors would open for the students in the Program and help other prisons around the country start programs of their own.

“Murad Muhammad, the 25-year-old president of Triangle, will apparently serve as Top Rank’s representative in New Jersey. The New Jersey Athletic Commission requires residence before granting promotion licenses.”

On that very same day, March 15, 1979, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (Fort Worth, Texas)

reported: Arum says Scott Needs Shot Outside Prison.

“Top Rank promoter Bob Arum appealed to New Jersey officials Wednesday to allow Rahway State Prison inmate James Scott the freedom to fight outside prison’s walls for a possible future title shot.”

“Arum, who promotes World Boxing Association light-heavyweight cha pion Mike Rossman said the 31-year-old Scott could be in line for a chance at the title if he is allowed outside the maximum-security prison.”

“Bob Arum appealed to New Jersey officials Wednesday to allow Rahway State: – – – Prison inmate James Scott the freedom to fight outside prison walls for possible i: future title shot.”

Arum didn’t know yet. I was planning to discuss a title fight with him because I had a way for Scott to be released for part of a day participating in a championship fight.

There was no stopping us now. The train had left the station, and there was no way to whistle it back. Or so I thought.

I Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana reported in its Sunday, February 4, 1979, edition that  

Prison Champ Scott Wants Title Bout in His Ring

On Thursday, March 15, 1979, The Courier-News (Bridgewater, New Jersey reported: Scott May Get Title Shot if he could Leave Prison.

Next, The Boston Globe’s (Boston, Massachusetts) Sunday, April 9, 1979, ran a story with the headline: “Scott Fights Behind Bars For Shot at Light-Heavyweight Title.”