BOXING: BREAK OUT THE SMORGASBORD!
A very big thank you. The coverage of the heavyweight championship (SI, July 6) was exactly what I looked for. Martin Kane is the smartest fight writer in the business. He not only knows fighting but he can write too. You can't hardly ever find them like that.
But he may have a little chicken in him. In his forecast he pegged the whole affair with great skill—and then in the last paragraph, well, you got to go with the champ, you know! Ingo and the artist turned out a layout that looked as if it had been done after the fight, not before.
You needn't look for any fighters out of Rome. All the young men here devote themselves exclusively to pinching female behinds. Entirely different set of muscles involved. Much pleasanter all around and less dangerous. Unless they come up against my daughters, who pinch back.
•Nunnally Johnson, onetime newspaperman (Columbus Enquirer-Sun; New York Herald Tribune; Brooklyn Daily Eagle) is the writer-director-producer of more good films than even Hollywood can readily recall (among them The Grapes of Wrath, The Gunfighter, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit and The Three Faces of Eve). A Georgian, Johnson replies to suggestions that Tobacco Road was about his kind of people by explaining: "Where I come from we call them the country-club set." One of Johnson's dauntless daughters is Nora Johnson, whom readers will remember as the author of Girls! It's Goal to Go! (SI, Sept. 22).—ED.
July 19, 1959
I want to congratulate SPORTS ILLUSTRATED on the scoop of the century—Robert Riger's oh-so-prophetic drawing of the so-called big fight. Orchids to Robert Riger, orchids to Ingemar Johansson. Perhaps now we will have a fighting champion; SPORTS ILLUSTRATED got the scoop on Ingemar's view of how the fight would go—and that was exactly how it went. This truly must have been Ingemar's easiest fight. Patterson must learn not to lunge so badly off balance—and who says Birgit took Ingo's mind off his training? Break out the smorgasbord—till the rematch!
TED R. LANDIS
The Johansson victory over Patterson was the best thing that could have happened to the fight game. No longer will the public have to stand for "Pete Rademacher defenses" or have to put up with childish managerial tactics. For the first time since Patterson won the title in 1956 worthwhile contenders will be given a chance at the championship. Ingemar Johansson is the savior of the fight game.
PLEASE ACCEPT KUDOS FROM CHARTER SUBSCRIBERS FOR LATEST SPORTS ILLUSTRATED GRAND SLAM—INGEMAR JOHANSSON, JIMMIE DYKES, MAX CONRAD, RODEO COWBOYS (SI, JULY 6).
I knew you'd report the fight in an all-out way with photographs as well as words, but the story of Mr. Anderberg's Odyssey added just the most delightfully novel twist to an already wonderful fight presentation. To you should go an Oscar for unique reporting and coverage of this Patterson-Johansson spectacle.
For lack of something better let's call it "uncanny perspicacity."
In any event, I've seen you put it to work before, but never better than in your prefight prediction of Ingemar's exploding right.
It hit the mark with readers like myself, and I'm sure made converts of many who were not.
There is one sportswriter—and most likely only one—who called the outcome of the Patterson-Johansson fight just right: Don Elbaum went out on a limb the Sunday before the fight in the Erie (Pa.) Times-News by flatly predicting: "Johansson by a K.O.—Third round."
But Elbaum supported his limb with some pretty good reasoning. To him Patterson stood for speed and Johansson for power. "Speed against power with my vote going to the power," wrote Elbaum. "I look for the 3-1 underdog to score a major upset and move in as the new champ. The K.O. should come in the early rounds...and boxing will be much better off with Ingemar Johansson as the new heavyweight champion."
Pretty good predicting, eh? Elbaum is a former amateur fighter (62 fights as a lightweight), who turned to matchmaking in this part of the country after serving in Korea. He also writes a boxing column for the Times-News. Elbaum tried to get Johansson to come to this country in 1957 but had no luck.
I think the attendance figures for the Johansson-Patterson fight are further proof that as the sports center New York is dead. Some New Yorkers blame it on the weather, which was surely a factor, but still this is not sufficient reason for such a pitiful attendance. Some say it was caused by a poor press, but surely if the press gives poor support to an event like this, it is a black mark for the city as a sports center.
The day is gone when the more presence of a large number of people is enough—there must be general interest. Population alone doesn't make a good sports town.
I predict the rematch will be held in L.A. and will draw three to four times the attendance of the first one in N.Y.
Whereas I have sported resin more often on trunks than shoes in my own limited ring career; and whereas I have been an avid subscriber for years; and whereas I have studied the Ingo-Floyd fracas, for real and on film; I am therefore resolved that you be apprised of my disappointment, in the practically universal failure among purveyors of sports reports, to adequately acknowledge Patterson's gallant, albeit semiconscious, reaction to Johansson's surprise attack.
MAJOR JOHN B. CHICKERING, USAF
La Jolla, Calif.
I wish to express to you my sincere congratulations on your great coverage of the heavyweight championship bout. Ingemar Johansson (regardless of the outcome of the September rematch) should be, without a doubt, voted Sportsman of the Year 1959.
J. NORMAN O'NEILL
I heartily congratulate you and especially Martin Kane for his June 22 article: Ingo's Right and Floyd's Peekaboo in Collision.
I didn't see the fight, but what I have read and heard certainly proves that Ingo was speaking the truth. It happened just as he said in your article.
I think it was great for boxing that Floyd lost his crown because now the world champion will fight good contenders. If Cus D'Amato wants his title back he will have to let his man work for it.
JORGE A. CANO
Floyd Patterson apparently is not the greatest heavyweight of our time, nor is he of the worst caliber, but he is the recipient of verbal blasts from the press that are as unjust as anything yet put forth by the fickle sports reporter. A man such as Patterson deserves a better press.
Patterson has been criticized from all directions, regarding all things. He is too small to be a heavyweight, though there have been lighter; he can't punch, though he has retired the majority of his opponents prior to the end of the scheduled rounds; his opposition has been inferior, though he has fought the best that was available.
He no longer is champion; still it is difficult for the cynics of the press to award anything but innuendoes to the current champion. I would wager that Johansson is perplexed as to what he must do before he is accepted. He has one-punched the leading contender and the champion into submission, plus several other lesser victories by KOs, and yet he is an amateur in the eyes of many.
Possibly your magazine could devote some research into the field of what is required and expected of the world heavyweight champion. Something that will render him acceptable in the eyes of those who truly love the sport.
Floyd Patterson to me was the champion, and very possibly, come next September, he might well be champion again, in what may be the greatest box office attraction of all time. No man who gathers himself from the canvas seven times in any fight should be discounted as not having one of the essentials of a true champ, a real honest-to-goodness fighting heart.
BOXING: JULY 4, 1910
Those of your readers who enjoyed Finis Farr's life story of that great old fighter Jack Johnson might be interested in reading this account of Johnson's encounter with Jeffries, the former heavyweight champion who came out of retirement as the "white hope" to meet Johnson in Reno, Nevada, July 4, 1910. The letter (below) was written by my great-uncle J. W. Daniels to his brother Peter Daniels of Garden Grove, Iowa. It is to me a fascinating piece of American history. Present-day readers will excuse some of the phraseology in current use at the time.
MERTON T. DANIELS
July 10, 1910
Dear Sir and Brother:
Your letter at hand and was glad to hear from you.
Reno has settled back to normal conditions after the most, famous event the pugilistic world ever saw: from the time they got the news that the fight would be brought here Reno has been the most interesting and exciting place I ever expect to see. From that time on they began to come: some in Pullmans, some rode the trucks, and others didn't know how they got here. Yes, men with two legs, men with one leg, men without any legs at all. Barnum never had such a collection. There were men without a sou, men that got money, men that didn't get money, for if there were any crooks and yeggmen in the world that wasn't here it was because they were in jail.
For 48 hours before the fight took place there were trains coming in from the East and the West in four, five and six sections, and there were miles of sidetracks full of cars. There were newspaper men by the score, moving picture machines by the dozens, Paiute Indians and broncho busters. Many lost stacks of money in the gambling houses before the big mill come off. Some wired home for more, others had no more home than a jack rabbit.
Five hours before the time arrived they began to fill up the big funnel-shaped arena that seated over 16,000 and at 2 o'clock when I got in, it looked more like a swarm of bees than anything else that I can think of. The audience was dotted with women, and one booth reserved for them. There was 5,000 on the outside that didn't get in, but men, women and boys scaled the walls of the arena, although it was well patrolled with police.
I had a seat that was as good as there was, with my back to the sun and right directly back of Jeff's corner. The sun peeped over the snow-capped Sierra Nevada at short range on the west, and the day must have been made to order. Exactly at 2:30 there was a clear voice shouted "Letter go!" and the big show opened. There were very few Negroes there, and a more orderly bunch never met. Everybody seemed to be absentminded, everybody sit there as though they were the only ones there.
John L. Sullivan and the rest of them were there to see the hope of the white race go the same route they had all gone.
But it's the same old story of a champion going in the ring once too often.
You ask me what I thought of it. I will not tell you what I thought, but the pitiful showing that big lobster (the hope of the white race) made with that foxy Negro made me feel so small that I went home and looked in a plate glass mirror and I couldn't see myself. I am sending you a souvenir, the coupon of my ticket (see picture) and when you look at it don't forget I handed them a $10 gold piece for it.
There has been one-half ton of the other end of these tickets shipped to N.Y. to be disposed of as souvenirs.
Reno is not a city but a town of 10,000, modern in every respect, lying a few miles from the foot of the east slope of the Sierra Nevada, where all vegetation ceases at least until you reach Ogden. It has the air of a city and at the same time is a typical frontier town.
Best wishes to all