Sasson: I know that producing the Kremlin Cup required powers that, looking back, I don’t know where I found. But sometimes people think I have superpowers that I really don’t possess.
One night, during one of the Kremlin Cup tournaments, I got a call in my hotel room late at night. The lady on the other end of the line refused to tell me what it was about, but insisted that she had to meet me urgently.
We met in the lobby of the Penta Hotel. Entering the lobby, I saw a young Russian girl, who told me that she and one of the European players who used to come for all the tournaments, had fallen in love and wish to get married. But there’s a slight problem: She is Russian and has no passport, no money for a plane ticket and no visa to his country. Apparently, her boyfriend thought I had superpowers and could arrange for this, but unfortunately I had to let her down. I don’t know how their story ended.
Our friend Yuri Matkof once confronted me and said: Do you really think I believe you’re doing the Kremlin Cup only for love of tennis and business? I know you have other, unspoken business. Don’t think I’m stupid!
I really don’t think he is a stupid man, but I have no idea what business he was talking about! Maybe I spent all of my career in the wrong business?
One of the Russian guests who came to our VIP restaurant often, wanted to show his appreciation. He was a very nice gentleman, and wanted to repay us for our kindness. He invited me for a special dinner in special company. We didn’t know how special. He said, “Tonight all high-ranking army officers are celebrating, and you will be the only non-military man, as our guest.”
Naïve me, I accepted his invitation, and went to the hotel to freshen up and prepare for this wonderful dinner. On the way to the hotel he told me: “I have to prepare you, this is not a simple invitation. You are going to buy all the uniforms and equipment that served the Russian army stationed in East Germany. You don’t even need to pay, we can arrange a ”back-to-back“ sale for you to sell it to a third country in Africa.”
I didn’t know what to say. I said OK, but when I got to the hotel, I called Gollar. Together we were completely confused, and had no idea what to do.
At the end I went to the party, got the offer, and told them: “I appreciate your kind proposal, but I have to tell you that I got some advice from my father-in-law, which I have to respect. We’ve promised him never to be involved in gambling, weapons and drug businesses.”
The people who ended up buying and reselling the military equipment made billions, but I have a clear conscience, which is even more precious.