Welcome to theIngo Era
In Swedishnewspapers the next day they called it Ingemar's hogerslag, and they said,correctly, that it krossade Floyd Patterson. The Swedes were simply saying whatthe rest of an aroused, observant world of sports was saying: Ingemar'sright-hand punch smashed Floyd. Indeed, the Swedes might have put it in evenstronger terms. Ingemar's hogerslag on Friday night carried a detonating blastof such forcefulness that the weather horizons of boxing itself have beenrecast.
For a generationthe heavyweight championship of the world has been an American monopoly and,brooding over a situation that appeared irreversible forever, many a WesternEuropean had half made up his mind that America was welcome to it. In IngemarJohansson's own Sweden, although Sportsman King Gustav Adolph, 76, rose betimesto hear the outcome, the Swedish state radio barred ringside accounts fromYankee Stadium on the official grounds that pugilism appeals only to"un-gentlemanly instincts." But the Swedish radio was the laughingstock of Sweden last week. In the Ingo Era the grand old sport of boxing hastaken on a fresh new international gleam.
For a generation,boxing championships have changed hands in this country in an atmosphere ofdiminished public attentiveness and of increased public weariness with thesuccession of monopoly-seeking promoters, undercover managers and victimized"tigers." The new heavyweight champion of the world is no promoter'spawn, he is his own manager and considerable of his own trainer, and anybodywho aims to victimize him should plan to get up early.
July 5, 1959
"I know whatI am doing," Ingo kept saying, and it is now clear to everybody that hedid. The possibility that this engaging young Swede knew what he was doingfirst became apparent last September when he knocked out Eddie Machen ofCalifornia with his hogerslag in Goteborg. All the lessons of a generationargued that it was a fluke or even a fix. Readers of this magazine willremember with pleasure, however, that Si's Martin Kane took off overseas for aclose look at Ingo and reported (see clips at right): Ingo is the Man for 1959.Kane continued: "The chances are that Johansson owns the most devastatingright-hand punch of any heavyweight currently practicing."
It is human andforgivable to recall now that a great many experts, watching Johansson intraining, concluded that Ingo's right hand was a Scandinavian fairy tale, thathis training was all wrong, and that he was simply another of the"bums" imported by cautious Cus D'Amato as leather fodder for Floyd.Jack Dempsey watched Johansson work out and could summon only anuncommunicative mumble afterward: Dempsey picked Patterson. And the day afterthe fight, with a burst of humor mixed with honest anguish, Dempsey remarked:"I really liked Johansson but my ghostwriter would not let me say so."And then there was Rocky Marciano, writing for a newspaper syndicate, whoscolded Johansson for bringing his mother, his father, his brother, his sisterand a sprinkling of fiancées to the training camp. "A fighter needs to bealone," Rocky said. The day after the fight Rocky raised himself from thecanvas in a gallant gesture: "Now tell me, who had the best trainingmethods? Ingemar with his Birgit or me with my Charley Goldman and Al Weill?And both without shaves."
Our own MartinKane concluded in the June 22nd issue that: "Patterson can, to be sure, behit with a right hand, but anyone who does it must face the consequences. Thechances are that he can and will survive Ingo's best and, in the end, knockIngo out." Our man brings the story up to date this week. There is to be arematch, and admirers of Floyd Patterson's brilliant style and majestic heartcan look forward to the test of a thesis, certainly true until now, that anyonewho can hit Patterson with a right hand must face the consequences. But fornow....
Let us just saythat Ingo's Swedish massage was the best thing that has happened to boxing'sbody politic since the court dismembered the International Boxing Club. It isthe kind of therapy that will restore it to health even while grand juries nowmeeting in New York and Los Angeles are exposing still more diseased areas.
We congratulateBill Rosensohn, the thoughtlessly derided "boy promoter," for hisremarkable staying powers which sustained him throughout a long promotionalnightmare in which he withstood treatment far rougher than that handed out toPatterson in the ring.
We congratulateIngemar Johansson, the new champ, who had the high good humor and firm sense ofpurpose to ignore his playfully irresponsible downgrading by the wisenheimersof the U.S. press.
We congratulatethat battle-scarred Marine, General Mel Krulewich, chairman of New York'sboxing commission, for persisting through trials as testing as those of Job orBill Rosensohn in his efforts to bring his big town the big fight.
Most of all wecongratulate the 22,000 boxing fans who braved all the obstacles thrown intheir path by man and nature and made their way to their wet seats in YankeeStadium, pursuing the conviction of faith and judgment that there is no greaterprivilege for the true fan than to witness a great spectacle of sport"live."
While we are inthis congratulatory mood, we might as well congratulate 500,000 or so who willin years to come claim that they were present in the flesh on that fatefulnight of June 26, 1959 when the sodden skies opened and released the"toonder and lightning" of the Smiling Swede's terrible swiftright.
The upper reachesof Harlem lie in Manhattan directly across the Harlem River from YankeeStadium. Thousands of Harlemites were in the Stadium when Ingemar Johanssonknocked out Floyd Patterson, and many of them, after the fight was over, walkedback home across Macomb's Dam Bridge. Their mood was one of disappointmentrather than shock, for Patterson has never been a real hero in Harlem, and theyspoke of Johansson with genuine respect for his prowess.
"I never knowhe was that good," one man said. "I didn't have no money, but if I didI would of bet $100 on Patterson, even with them 5-to-l odds. Man, he hit himhard."
"Nobody hitslike that cat," said another man, walking back over the bridge with a girl."Patterson didn't know where he was at. He was through after that firstknockdown."
A third man swungaround.
"Why didn'the hold on?" he demanded. "Man can hold on, can't he? He come up onetime, he swinging. Why didn't he just hold on? Man can hold on for oneround."
A little man saidquietly, "He couldn't think what he was doing."
"What's hewant to think for?" snapped the angry man. "He not supposed to think.He not a thinking fighter."
The crowd flowedunevenly across the bridge in constantly changing groups. Conversations thatstarted in one cluster of people drifted and carried to others. A tall man whohad heard the complaint about Patterson's failure to clinch and hold fell astep or two behind.
"Youknow," he said to a friend, "I believe that Archie Moore would have didit."
"You mean oldArch?"
"I mean old,old, old, old, old Arch. How many times he down in Montreal? He held on. Hecame back. And he won."
The crowdstreamed off the bridge and down the incline toward Eighth Avenue. The littleman who had just spoken up for Patterson spoke again.
"I don'tthink he can do it twice," he said.
His companionlooked at him.
"Ninetydays," he said. "Ninety days from now."
The Same OldCus
The day after hisfighter lost the heavyweight championship of the world, Cus D'Amato sat in adelicatessen off Broadway with his old friend Charlie Black and said he wasn'thungry and said he was the same man.
"I don'tthink I changed when Floyd became champion," he said. "I don't thinkI've changed now. I have no feeling myself. Whatever feeling I have is aboutFloyd personally. But he is an intelligent fellow who knows that thingshappened for specific reasons even if he does not know now how theyhappened.
"I am verydetached. I was very detached at the end of the fight. I thought of threethings then. The first thing I thought of was Charlie [who has a bad heart].The second thing I thought of was I wondered if I had enough money to pay offall my debts. The third thing I'm going to tell you is a strange thing. BeforeFloyd went to Europe for the Olympics I said he was going to be Olympicchampion, then Rookie of the Year, then Fighter of the Year, then the youngestheavyweight champion in history and then the greatest heavyweight that everlived. In my mind I was so sure that these things would happen that as theydeveloped and happened I wasn't surprised.
"But whenFloyd lost I thought something was happening that wasn't part of the book. Howcan it happen, I thought. The whole thing was a pattern, it was preordained.But then I realized that I left out a piece of the pattern. Then I realizedwhat I had forgotten. Since it involved losing I never thought of it. It wasthat Floyd would be the first heavyweight champion to regain histitle."
A visitor askedD'Amato if Johansson's victory showed a deficiency in Patterson's style offighting.
"There isabsolutely nothing wrong with it," said D'Amato. "It wasn't the stylebut what the other guy did at the right time. Nothing is perfect. The onlything you can do is reduce the minimum."
"WhenSchmeling knocked out Louis," said Charlie Black, "they said Louiswalked from the ring. He didn't walk. Twelve cops carried him. I know. I wasthere. Your fighter walked, Cus."
"Yes, Iknow," said Cus D'Amato.
The Japanese havea nice phrase for a game-deciding hit blasted into the stands of KorakuenStadium in Tokyo. It's a sayonara homah. Since sayonara means farewell, asayonara homah is the most exciting finish possible to a Japanese ball game,and last week fans were electrified when one wrapped up the first professionalgame ever seen by the Emperor.
A sports fan in adignified way, Hirohito has lately been noticed turning to baseball on thepalace TV sets, and his aides, who are Tokyo Giant fans, contrived to have himofficially invited to a night game between the Giants (leading the league) andthe fourth-place Hanshin Tigers. His acceptance was almost eager, and Japanesefans were set for a terrific boost for their sport—provided the game was a goodone, and provided the Emperor enjoyed it.
He arrived atKorakuen Stadium two minutes before game time, received a standing ovation from45,000 fans, waved his hat jauntily to the ballplayers who were lined up, rigidwith nervousness, across home plate. For three innings the game barely moved.Everyone was too frightened at being under the Imperial eye. Hirohito wasexpressionless, except for polite nods to a baseball expert explaining the gameto him. The Giants' ace pitcher, Motoji Fujita (11-2), walked a man, and a hitto center brought in the first Tiger run. In the bottom of the fifth, theGiants' third baseman, Shigeo Nagashima, tied the score with a homer into theright-field bleachers, and the Emperor was hanging over the edge of theImperial box, looking down on home plate. The next Giant batter also homered.But then the Giants went down in succession, and Hirohito sank back into hischair. The word swept around the stadium: "He is an Edokko"—a Tokyoman—a Giant fan!
Both pitcherswere losing control. In the top of the sixth the Tigers came roaring back withthree runs. In the seventh the Giants tied it again on a two-run homer by FirstBaseman Sadaharu Wang. The Tiger manager, Kaizer Tanaka, a Hawaiian Nisei,yanked his pitcher for a speedball artist in relief. By the last half of theninth, with the score still tied, Hirohito was crouched in the royal box, witha strained, tense face, when the Giants' third baseman, Nagashima, again cameto bat. The count went up to two and two before Nagashima belted a breast-highfast ball into the left-field stands, his second homer of the day, thetie-breaking score that gave it to the Giants 5 to 4—a real sayonara homah, athere-goes-your-old-ball-game blast. The Emperor sank back, with relief on hisfeatures, smiled dazedly at the Empress and forgot to wave to the crowd when heleft. The Empress nudged him, and he turned to bow politely to the wildlyapplauding fans, who now ranked him as one of themselves.
For a manresolutely dedicated to holding himself aloof from international politics, theInternational Olympic Committee's Chairman Avery Brundage was chalking up animpressive record of accomplishment in his nonchosen career. In the weeks sincewe first reported and commented here on the IOC's self-styled"non-political" decision to outlaw Nationalist China and declare MaoTsetung's China the legal overlords of all Chinese athletes (SI, June 8 etseq.), that decision and Brundage's defense of it have earned the condemnationof 1) the Congress of the United States, 2) the U.S. Department of State, 3)the President of the United States, 4) a host of private individuals andorganizations, including the U.S. Olympic Committee and the AmericanLegion.
By what must besheerest coincidence, however, the decision and Brundage have both earned highpraise in Moscow and Peking.
Last week, as ifin augury of further nonpolitical decisions to come, President Andrianov of theRussian Olympic Committee promised drastic action at the next IOC meeting inFebruary 1960 to bring the West Germans and the South Koreans in line with theRed Chinese decision. He also nonpolitically urged all international sportsorganizations "to purge the Chiang Kai-shekists from their ranks."
On purelyathletic grounds, of course.
'...I WILL USE MYBEST PUNCH!'
Thus spakeIngemar Johansson to the man who drew this prophetic picture in the June 22issue—perhaps the only outsider to whom Johansson truly revealed his rightduring prefight training—SI Artist Robert Riger.
Artist Riger, whohad watched 40 rounds of Ingemar's sparring during which the right was keptalmost idly cocked, persuaded Ingo to give SPORTS ILLUSTRATED an exclusivedemonstration in the garage of his ranch house in the Catskills.
At one pointIngemar bade the 5-foot 8-inch, 150-pound Riger: "Stand still and see ifyou can see it coming—I will not hit you, at least not hard." Riger couldnot see it coming, but his movie camera did. After a stint at his drawing boardhe produced this picture, of which Ingemar said with enthusiasm: "Yes. Thisis my short right. Straight and so quick...."
An even earlierforeshadowing came in Martin Kane's January 26 issue story, which is sampledbelow.
He started onsafari
But very soon returned:
The game is far too wild to play
Safaris he's concerned.
They Said It
Frank Lane, Cleveland Indians' general manager,finding a ready reason why his ball club plays so much better on the road thanat home: "When we're away, the players stay in air-conditioned hotels andsleep from eight to 12 hours a day. But at home the kids get them up early inthe morning, their wives send them shopping and they've got a thousand and onethings to do."
Hank Iba, Oklahoma State basketball coach, on parents'coddling of athletes: "Don't ever tell one of your players that if his manscores you'll take him out of the game. He won't stop at the bench. He'll goright to the phone and call his mother, and then you'll be in trouble with thetrustees."
Doc Kearns, manager of Archie Moore, before leavingfor Montreal (where Archie will fight Yvon Durelle): "The Queen and thePrince will be in the city, and I'm going to try and get them to knight Archie.If they do that, he will be Sir Archibald or His Lordship."