THE FIGHT FANSPOP OFF
This week Poor Put-upon Fight Fans, with no officers, house organ, dues, pressagent or headquarters provided by their articles of incorporation (which werenever written) chose SI's 19TH HOLE as their meeting place. Herewith excerptsfrom some of their letters.
I just sat fuming through the Saddler-Elorde championship bout (SI, Jan. 30). Ithink the stench of boxing's dirty business slowly being aired out in the Eastis settling out here with a vengeance. Even yours and others' reports had notprepared me for the filthiness of Saddler's whole approach to winning anotherfight. With him it is obviously so ingrained as to no longer seem conscious. Hebutts continuously on the inside, holds and hits, forearms to the neck, lungesand hits on the break, draws the head down with the left and follows with aright uppercut, all so simultaneously or consecutively that it leaves youoccasionally with the thought that you are being demonstrated a manual of theseoffenses. The galling part was the complete unconcern with which Referee RayFlores viewed this sorry proceeding. For nine rounds his main concern seemed tobe to avoid hindering Saddler's "style" in any way. The tendersolicitude he displayed for Elorde after his eye was finally mauled was trulytouching, a picture dimmed somewhat by his subsequent blindness as Saddler heldElorde's head and finished the job.
I never saw orheard of Elorde before. His fight plan seemed good and showed signs of beingadequate had he received the kind of protection he had every right toexpect.
With this and therotten Pep-Cadilli decision out here recently, I sure feel that California needtake a back seat to no one in the matter of boxing's racket symptoms. Doubtlessmy nickel's worth of protest pains Flores and all his great and good friends nofurther than to cause a chuckle on the way to the bank, but I hope you willstay right on the firing line with potshots at every exposed part of thevulnerable under(world) side of boxing.
February 6, 1956
Either that orlet Elorde use a bolo knife.
Yours in prettymuch of a sweat,
HARRY W. CROSBY
Del Mar, Calif.
To anyone who had doubted that the situation in boxing was rotten, I commendthe performance of "Champion" Saddler in his fight against Elorde. Iwill not argue that championship athletes per se are, or have to be, lily whitein their professional ethics and scruples. But I submit as prima facie evidenceof professional malfeasance the timorous behavior of both the referee andtelevision announcer of this fight. If there is to be order and decency inathletics the men who officiate and the journalists who cover must be ofcourage and strength. Such was not in evidence.
Every bit asdisheartening is the apparent lack of concern by the sponsors of such shows forthe administration of the vehicle they have chosen to represent their product.I can only assume complete indifference on the part of the sponsor. They arewasting a power greater than Commissioner Helfand can bring to bear and so arebeing remiss in fulfilling their social responsibilities.
J. W. CORBETT
...Saddler hit, shoved, dragged and wrestled on every break, ripped openElorde's eye with his hatchet-like head, gouged the cut with his laces,massaged his opponent round after round with a constant stream of elbows,shoves and fouls of every description until the match was stopped with Saddlerthe winner.
Why is a foulfighter like Saddler allowed to fight in this manner fight after fight...?
C. W. JACKSON
...Love is indeed a many-splendored thing and nothing can hope to match theloving care Mr. Flores lavished on his protégé Sandy Saddler. So Elorde gotmurdered. So who's Elorde...?
B. GEORGE WEINBERG
The Bronx, New York
...I think I just heard the Marquess of Queensberry turn in his grave...Thiswas the dirtiest fight of them all....
ERIC S. HARNSTROM
...All I hope is that Elorde gets another crack at Saddler with a neutralreferee officiating this time....
B. Y. JAMIESON
...Next time you drop in on the IBC (Norris, president), tell Sunny Jim he'slost this boy for good. What a stinker this one was...!
LEE (TEX) ABERNATHY
...It is a shame when a boxer, trying to fight a decent fight and doing a goodjob of it, has to lose it because of a worthless referee....
VERDIN S. CANTRELL D.S.C.
...No wonder boxing is in the kind of trouble it is today. I suggest we startcleaning it up with Saddler and Flores....
J. S. SAMMARCO
...Some of my friends have up till now taken a relaxed view of what SI over thelast year and a half has called boxing's dirty business. I rather think thatthe IBC (James D. Norris, president) as co-sponsor of the West Coast brawlwhich sickened every decent viewer now has convinced a lot of those who caredlittle about what it stood for.
Some years ago apolitical party on the out here in Massachusetts courted voters with posterssaying very simply: "Had enough?" They won. This last fight served assuch a poster.
...Please tell me what relation Referee Ray Flores is to Sandy Saddler.Saddler's own mother could not have been more biased on his behalf...Elordenever had a chance.
ROBERT E. FORIO
...This is the time to kick out Jim Norris and his IBC. Most of the fights hehas arranged have been mismatched. A smarter man is needed. Something has to bedone about it.
JOHN E. WISE JR.
...I have watched fights over TV for several years and have boxed myself. Neverhave I seen such a dirty fight, never....
TROY B. COLLIER
Little Rock, Ark.
...You have done a wonderful job in starting the ball rolling to clean upboxing. Keep at it, much remains to be done....
...I read a description in the newspapers and if it was anything like I read Iam glad I went to the movies that night....
B. A. BURNS
...It stank to high heaven. It overshadowed even the recent Willie Pep to-do.If the Philippines now join the satellites, we know at least what causedit....
...The Saddler-Elorde fight was the foulest thing ever to be aired on TV....
BUD (LONG) GRAINGER
...Agreed, TV is not a medium exclusively the property of children. And alsoagreed, professional athletes do not have the same code of conduct as Mr.Brundage's little wards. They've been known to sneak a drag on a cigaretbetween engagements and to take advantage of what the referee isn't there tosee is part of the mores. But never, no never, have I seen anything like whathappened out on the Coast when Saddler apparently got a license to act as chiefbutcher in the local fight abattoir. Where did they find this poor guy Elorde,anyhow? I haven't seen such a thoroughly bewildered expression on a man's facesince that Cecil B. DeMille opus showed all those Christians in the arena. Eventhen nary a one of the lions butted, gouged and fouled his victim the waySaddler did his....
GREERLY P. REARDON
...Flash Elorde got the gravest injustice in the history of boxing in theUnited States....
...If America has not the guts to stand up to rats like Frankie Carbo and, ofcourse, our playboy James D. Norris (president), then I guess money rulesall...!
FRED E. LANGLEY
...Ray Flores did the most rotten job of refereeing. To me it was obvious thathe had every intention of giving the fight to Saddler from the very beginning.If this is libelous, print it anyhow. He can see my lawyer....
F. X. HELD
Fort Smith, Ark.
...What I want to know is this: Who was responsible for this fracas? Everyone Iknow is outraged, but what can we do about it? It is high time that someone hitback at those responsible....
I would like toknow who allows things like this to happen without anyone being accountable orresponsible.
...Suggest you list Flores' name against future bouts listed in COMING EVENTSso that we can ignore them....
...In the last year my husband made a fight fan out of me. Your article on howto score (SI, Dec. 5) was therefore a tremendous help to me. Unfortunately, Itook the rules as being gospel. My first reaction to the Saddler fight was thatmy schooling was incomplete, but subsequent reaction in the newspapers and inSI frowned as darkly on Saddler's tactics as I did.
Aren't the judgesable to do something, the commissioner, somebody? It seems to me that no one isdoing anything.
EUNICE J. WAGNER
...They should stuff him for Mme. Tussaud's wax works with a label: "Thegreatest barroom brawler of his time...."
...Just when I had my wife more or less convinced that the TV fights were agreat thing to watch, this comes along. Needless to say, she's back with LifeCan Be Beautiful.
J. M. NORRIS
...This was the most outrageous exhibition allowed in America. Why was itallowed, I'd like to know...?
W. W. WOLFRAMSE
San Bernardino, Calif.
...This so-called fight had such a bad odor to it, it was hard to take even3,000 miles away in New Jersey....
PAUL P. RIDNER
Ocean Grove, N.J.
...I assume that Mr. Flores and Mr. Saddler received some satisfaction fromtheir night's work...certainly no one else did. What happened to Flash Elordewas strictly unconstitutional under the ban against cruel and unusualpunishment. It was unusual even for Saddler, the finest malpractioner in theprofession.... Even Saddler's Mom must admit that her boy looked a littleclumsy that night, all thumbs, elbows and teeth, in fact. The only one wholoved it all was the referee, the distinguished Mr. Flores. In some respects hewas scrupulous, not once did he allow Saddler to pick Elorde's manager'spockets between rounds.
RAY W. M. BLEEKER
Congratulations on the progress of your campaign to eliminate the criminals andracketeers from the boxing game and to make it, once more, a sport in theliteral sense of the word.
Will you accept asuggestion for further advancing its appeal to the American public? Boxingseems to be the only form of competition that still lacks round-by-roundscoring.
Many professionalreferees and judges to whom I have spoken oppose it wholeheartedly. Theirprincipal reason seems to be that any man scoring a round at any great variancewith his fellow-judges would have the crowd yelling at him or calling him namesall through the fight rather than just at the end and he wouldn't be able torun out (after collecting his stipend) and get away from it all as he cannow.
Such crowdcriticism is never directed at an umpire or a referee in football, basketballor hockey, of course. The officials in those games may be made of sterner stuffthan the fight officials. Boxing officials might even learn the rules of boxingand of judging which many of them have not yet been able to do.
In addition, wemight have a system of penalties such as football has developed to try to keepthe game clean. It has worked well and should do much for boxing.
With such asystem Sandy Saddler would never win a fight (barring a KO), let alone win achampionship. It would help to attract athletes who might put boxing back onits feet financially. We can certainly stand that. Boxing can be improved.Let's do it.
FRANCIS E. DONOVAN