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The Genovese crime family was in flux after the sudden death of Vito "Don Vitone" Genovese on February 14, 1969. Three candidates emerged as likely successor as family boss. One of the three possible successors was Thomas Eboli, aka Tommy Ryan. Eboli was a former fight manager who was banished from the ring after slugging a referee during a post fight fracas in January 1952. As manager Tommy Ryan he hit referee Ray Miller after his fighter Rocky Castellani lost a TKO to Ernie Durando. The other Genovese boss candidates were Michele "Mike" Miranda and Gerardo "Jerry" Catena. Thomas Eboli was hampered by an ever worsening heart condition and an inability to stop the ascension of Catena as a mob power broker.