The occasion of naming the Sportsman of the Year is ever a gratifying one for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. This is so not only because it's always fun to hand out bouquets but because in this case the standards for selection are such that they reflect credit both on a man in particular and on sport in general.
This year the story of our Sportsman of the Year has other elements of special significance. For Ingemar Johansson represents a sport, professional boxing, at whose malefactors SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has often had cause to throw brickbats rather than bouquets. We have invariably done this with constructive purpose, but the fact is that the condition of boxing during our years of publication has offered more to deplore than to praise. The emergence of Johansson and "the manner of his striving" contain encouraging portents for the sport which brings him his present honor. More than that, because Johansson is Swedish, boxing now takes on a sharply international perspective. And it is this circumstance which makes it appropriate for Associate Editor Martin Kane in his story in this issue to present not only a man but a plan.
The plan contemplates the establishment of an effective international organization to guide professional boxing, which needs one and gives evidence, perhaps for the first time, that it would accept one. The evidence, which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED has been assembling for some time, includes Kane's findings on a recent European trip, taken to sound out prominent officials in boxing abroad. The itinerary involved conferences in Goteborg with Johansson and his adviser, Edwin Ahlquist; in Paris with Edouard Rabret, secretary-general of the European Boxing Union; and at his home outside London with J. Onslow Fane, president of the British Boxing Board of Control. Wherever he went, Kane found only the most cordial of receptions for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's proposals.
I think you will enjoy reading them and I hope you will also want to give thought to them. When I asked Kane what enforcing authority he thought, such an organization might have in a strictly professional sport, he said, "Its only sanctions would be those of public opinion."
That might be more than enough. SPORTS ILLUSTRATED already knows what public opinion has accomplished when brought to bear on the problems of domestic boxing.