Many of our readers undoubtedly read in last week's SPORTS ILLUSTRATED that Budd Schulberg had been named to receive the 1955 Bengal Bouts Award at the University of Notre Dame, as "the man who has done most for boxing in the last year." The award was in part a tribute to Schulberg's story (SI, Nov. 1) of the Gavilan-Saxton fight in Philadelphia, uncovering such undercover, underworld figures as Blinky Palermo and Frankie Carbo behind the match—and calling for an investigation of the entire "dark underside of boxing."
Most often in years past the Bengal Bouts Award has gone to champions like Tony Zale and Rocky Marciano. Unlike them Schulberg has for some time confined his contributions to boxing to activities outside the ropes. He has been close to the game, around the fighters and the men around fighters ever since, as a youngster in Hollywood, his favorite haunt during spare time became the Los Angeles Main Street gym. Although he boxed—for fun—his last appearance in gloves occurred as a spur-of-the-moment sparring partner for a heavyweight he sponsored. "It was a one-minute decision," Schulberg says. "Also for me a lifetime one—to write, not fight."
Upon graduation from Dartmouth in 1936, Schulberg became a script writer in Hollywood, published his first best-selling novel, What Makes Sammy Run? out of his Hollywood experience, then spent four years with the Navy and the OSS. After the war he turned to boxing for his second novel, The Harder They Fall, a cutting account of the carefully engineered rise and fall of a heavyweight champion no one mistook for anyone else but Primo Camera.
Most recently, Schulberg has been nominated for an Academy Award for writing On the Waterfront. Many of the actors in the film are ex-prize fighters, no coincidence, but largely as a result of Schulberg's own recommendation—based on his appreciation for fighters as courageous, expressive and sensitive men whose circumstances never require them to learn how to overact. In a word, Schulberg respects fighters.
March 28, 1955
He also respects, as does this magazine for which he writes, boxing. In our Oct. 11 issue he wrote, "The other day I was asked point-blank what line I was going to take on boxing, for or against. Naturally I'm for. Otherwise I wouldn't be here."
Along with SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, what Schulberg is not for is boxing riddled with the dirty business of corrupt men; and similarly not for are millions of its fans.
Neither, it seems, is Notre Dame University. Otherwise, last week, Budd Schulberg would not have been there either.