THE QUESTION: Fritzie Zivic says you have to fight dirty to be a ring champion and mentions some prime examples. Do you agree with him?

February 23, 1959

JACK DEMPSEY
Former heavyweight champion
Los Angeles
That's a ridiculous charge for Zivic to make. Where does he get his facts? A fighter can be rough without being dirty. Sure I was rough, plenty rough, but never dirty. I probably hit some foul punches, but never intentionally. The better a fighter a man is, the more of a gentleman. Look at Gene Tunney.

JACK LESCOULIE
Television personality
Whittier, Calif.
Nonsense. Henry Armstrong held three world titles and never made a dirty move. The same goes for Joe Louis, who wasn't even mean, except in his second fight with Max Schmeling, who had previously knocked Joe out. Carmen Basilio knows every dirty move in the ring but never uses them.

GENE TUNNEY
Retired undefeated heavyweight champion
Stamford, Conn.
That's a stupid statement. No one can talk about dirty fighting better than a dirty fighter. The one way not to become a great fighter is to be a dirty one. You can't point to any champion in the history of the game and say he was a dirty fighter. Dirtiness and championships simply can't be mixed.

WILLIAM KEEFE
New Orleans Times-Picayune
Sports editor
I don't believe it. There are many champions who fought clean—Tony Canzoneri, Pete Herman, Freddy Welsh from Wales, Jack Johnson, etc. Sandy Saddler, a champion, was the dirtiest fighter I ever saw. Jack Dempsey's relentlessness made him appear dirty at times. But what foul play is there in that?

RED SMITH
New York Herald Tribune
Sports columnist
There have been many deliberate violations of the rules. There's no question that Willie Pep, Sandy Saddler and Jack Dempsey paid little attention to the rules, but I wouldn't call them dirty fighters. Marciano has been accused of dirty fighting. I disagree. He may have been carried away with a fight, but his morals weren't.

JIMMY BURNS
The Miami Herald
Sports editor
Well, fighting is a pretty primitive business. A man has to fight savagely to win a championship and hold it. Where do you draw the line between savage and dirty fighting? How much difference is there? Rocky Marciano has hit after the bell but it was unintentional. Such a thing often happens in the ring.

NAT FLEISCHER
New York Ring magazine
Editor and publisher
I violently disagree. Zivic used foul tactics, but no champion I ever watched was a dirty fighter. Dempsey was occasionally called a dirty fighter because he never went to a neutral corner and he would crouch over a fallen opponent for the kill. He was within his rights; there was no neutral-corner rule at that time.

FURMAN BISHER
The Atlanta Journal
Sports editor
It all depends on what you call "dirty." Zivic, Saddler and Galento were real rough boys, but I never called the native viciousness of Dempsey, Marciano and Louis dirtiness, which as I see it, is merely a rank, raw substitute for the killer instinct in fighters who don't have it. Boxing, after all, is a tough sport.

TOM SILER
Knoxville News-Sentinel
Sports editor
I don't agree. Joe Louis was perhaps the greatest heavyweight. He won without dirty tactics. So did Gene Tunney, Tony Zale, Barney Ross, Tony Canzoneri, Benny Leonard and many others. I'm sure that the champions who used dirty tactics could have been champs without the fouls.

BEN WOOLBERT
Los Angeles Examiner
Sports editor
No. Most champions are clean fighters. Rocky Marciano was rough, but he wasn't dirty. I personally know that it hurts him to hear someone say he was a dirty fighter. All that is necessary is to inform the public, and any dirtiness or abuse will be cleaned up. Habitually dirty fighters have never had much of a following.

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