Who are these happy devotees of what spring revels where? You're right if your answers are 1) Ingemar Johansson of Sweden and his fiancée Birgit Lundgren, 2) a barefoot and slipper-foot impromptu in the merry month of May 3) at Grossinger, N.Y., where—yes indeed—Ingo is in training for his June 25 fight with Floyd Patterson. It is quite possible that no comparable picture is to be found in the entire archives of boxing.
But then there has never been anything quite like Ingemar Johansson on the American heavyweight scene before. He is installed in a splendid private home valued at more than $100,000, 120 miles north of Manhattan—and has brought along his mother to do his cooking. He rises at 6 a.m. for half a dozen miles of traditional roadwork—and occasionally stays up watching television ("Bob Hope is very, very funny") or a movie or nightclub show at the hotel instead of hitting the sack at 9 p.m. as many heavyweights do. Around 5 p.m., four hours after a conventional chap would have started his sparring, Ingo gets under way: he likes to go a round first with his brother Rolf, a middleweight, to work up his speed. Then into the standard four rounds with more ponderous partners.
Don't get Ingemar wrong. Said sparring partner Charley Norkus last week: "Don't be surprised if we have a new champion."
THE PAIN OF IT ALL
May 31, 1959
Nevertheless Ingemar Johansson had more on his mind last week than sunlight and happy sprints across the grass with Birgit. For one thing, laconic word came from his training camp that Ingo had strained his back in a sparring session—neither Ingo nor his family entourage bothered to say just how. Ingo did say, however, that "it happened to me once before, so I know it will clear up in a few days."
Aching back and all, Ingo was next obliged to travel into Manhattan to apply for one essential thing he does not yet have: a New York State license from the state athletic commission entitling him to fight Floyd Patterson. The athletic commission rejected as a "stooge" the U.S. manager urged on him by Cus D'Amato, bade Ingemar find himself another one not obligated to Cus (who, after all, is Floyd Patterson's manager). Not a bit out of countenance (he can pick his father as manager if he cares to, or even be his own manager), Ingo headed back to his training camp, where he thought the matter over and his back quickly stopped aching.
He must return to New York by June 1, however, to testify in l'affaire Machen. Machen, as you may recall, contends that he has a return-bout contract with Ingo. Johansson contends the contract was signed under duress by a man who had no authority.