Happy Steinfelt and Lew Morgan, a couple of bookies, come out to Hogan's Health Farm and apparently persuade Jack Brennan to bet $50,000 against himself in the upcoming fight with Walcott. Jack is giving two-to-one odds, so he stands to win $25,000 if he lets Walcott beat him. Why would Steinfelt and Morgan want to take such a bet when they should know that they will end up having to pay Jack $25,000 plus his original $50,000? Maybe they are planning to have Walcott lose, but how can they persuade Jack that he is sure to lose the fight and win the bet? Maybe they think he will believe that they just want to make sure he will lose the fight so that they can take a lot more bets on him and collect a big profit. In other words, they are paying him $25,000 to lose the fight but intend to make a much bigger profit. At least that's what they want Jack to think they are doing. This seems like a screwy way to fix a fight, doesn't it?
In reply to answers #3 and #4, it seems to me that the customary way to fix a fight was to make a cash payment to the boxer who was supposed to lose. In Hemingway's story the gamblers ask Jack Brennan to give them $50,000 in advance. Then when he loses he is supposed to receive $75,000, that is, his $50,000 plus $25,000. If they are bribing him to lose the fight, why should he have to put up $50,000 of his own money? I don't see anything "logical" about this or anything "usual." It is certainly not "usual." It is very un-usual. Jack should be very suspicious when they ask him to turn over $50,000 of his own money to them. Why wouldn't he ask them, "If you want me to take a dive for $25,000, give me the $25,000 and I'll agree to take the dive"? If Jack wants to bet against himself he doesn't have to make some deal with these two gamblers; he ought to be able to have his manager place the bet with any bookies in New York. Instead of trusting them to pay him $25,000 if he loses to Walcott, he is trusting them to pay him $75,000 if he loses to Walcott.
It seems a very logical, if not immoral, way of making money if you ask me. Clearly you pay out money initially by fixing the fight but then obviously you are able to make plenty more through bets and fixing the odds so that because you know the outcome, you will make far more of a profit overall even if you include the initial loss that you made to begin with.
Everybody without exception, including Jack Brennan himself, knows he is going to lose the fight. So what is immoral about betting against himself? It might be considered illegal, but I don't see it as immoral. The gambler don't "pay" any money; they take $50,000 from Jack. It's great for them if he goes along with the idea. Morgan and Steinfelt are offering nothing but an idea. Jack could bet against himself at any number of places in New York.
I don't think it's a screwy way to fix a fight. This is pretty much the usual way, right? You pay someone to take a dive because they won't do it for free. But then you make up all the money you paid them and a bunch more by taking a lot of bets that the guy you've paid off will win. It's pretty fool-proof because in boxing the guy is pretty much in control of who wins -- no teammates to screw things up like when you try to do point shaving in basketball.
The gamblers are not paying Jack to take a dive. They are asking him to bet against himself. This is different from the "usual way" of fixing a fight. Most fighters couldn't come up with anything like $50,000. Why don't Morgan and Steinfelt just give Jack $25,000 and get him to promise to lose? Or alternatively, why don't they promise to give him $25,000 if he loses? That should be what you call "the usual way" of fixing a fight, not asking the fighter to bet against himself. That seems highly unusual. It should make Jack suspicious when they make him that kind of offer at Hogan's health farm. He must have asked them, "Why don't you guys just give me the $25,000 now?" They may want to make sure they can trust him to lose--but how does he know he can trust them to pay?