Floyd Patterson, quite logically, is favored to win his heavyweight championship fight with Ingemar Johansson next week in the Miami Beach Convention Hall. But as Gilbert Rogin points out (page 17) Patterson is no cinch; the men have met twice before, and twice the underdog was the winner. At 3½ to 1, Ingemar is what betting men call an overlay.
The Swede is an improved fighter. Having made a second and tardy renunciation of strawberry shortcake (SI, Feb. 27), he will probably come in just about where he wants—i.e., at about 200 pounds. Also, he has polished his jab, developed a fair left hook and an unquestionable right uppercut.
Unguessable hundreds of thousands will watch Ingo's fight. But two men will do so with a particular interest—two who may decide whether Johansson is to fight again after this. One is a Swedish doctor in the Palm Beach camp named Francis Benson. He is coping with the acute backaches from which Ingemar has suffered in previous training—and which were not publicized. The pain is attributed to the fact that Ingo's left leg is a trifle shorter than the right, and it has caused him to use a lift of one-sixteenth of an inch in his left shoe.
March 13, 1961
The second powerful influence on Johansson's future is exerted by an ex-fighter called Mortimer Caplin, formerly of the University of Virginia but now coming out of the Government's corner as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Caplin says Ingemar owes him $598,181 in back taxes; Ingemar, a civilized man who regards prizefighting as merely one of the less disagreeable ways of making a living, says he owes the Government nothing. If Ingo turns out to be right, he may well quit and rest his back, deservedly ahead of the game.
But here he is again the underdog, and in this case we recommend no bet on him.
Primo Carnera, as gentle a man as ever earned a decision over Paulino Uzeudun, has been staying in New York City (sleeping diagonally on a double bed) while fulfilling pro wrestling engagements in the East. Over a bourbon and 7-Up the other evening he made a fight prediction: Patterson, maybe by a KO.
Although he had lost to Buddy (Nature Boy) Rogers in the Garden a few nights before, Carnera looked tanned and fit. Except for Patterson, he had unkind things to say about today's fighters. "They don't make the sacrifices these days," he asserted in his pleasant, raspy voice. "Europe, America—it makes no difference. Everything is for them too facility. They do too much what they want—Cadillacs, girls. They don't have the spirit. It is all a business. In the old days we used to keep in shape by fighting and when not fighting, 15 miles of roadwork. We used to dream fighting. We would get up in the middle of the night and study ourselves in the mirror, appreciating our movements. Nowadays, nobody wants to get hit, for heavyweights even more. Because the brain"—he tapped his temple—"is the same delicate thing in a heavyweight as a lightweight, only heavyweights punch harder."
Now a Los Angeles resident with a son at UCLA and a daughter in Hollywood High, Carnera saw films of the first two fights in Venice. With a grimace he said, "That Johansson, he win, but he don't convince nobody. The second time I am very convinced by Patterson. Here is a fighter who hits like he is in shape. For him, I can tell, it is not just a business."
PURE AS THE SNOW
Professional ski racing got off to such a smooth start at Aspen five weeks ago (SI, Feb. 13) that Friedl Pfeifer, co-head of the ski school there and chief organizer of the pros, confidently scheduled his boys for several events around North America on terms clearly set by Pfeifer. But the picture has been darkened by Marc Hodler, head of the Fédération Internationale de Ski, controlling body of the world amateur ski racers. "The question," remarks Hodler irritably, "is not whether the FIS will approve professional racing but whether it will actively fight this ski circus.
"We could blacklist resorts which organize professional races and take away their right to hold international events for a period of, say, 20 years. We want to see whether Pfeifer will try to round up the best international amateurs or whether he will be content with a small group of professionals."
Note to Friedl: Jack Kramer's address is 1271 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles.
Dr. Leon Levy is a 65-year-old gent who fishes, golfs, sits on the board of directors of the Columbia Broadcasting System and is the president of the Atlantic City Racing Association. Each winter Dr. Levy leaves his home in Philadelphia and vacations at his home in Palm Beach, Fla. for five months. During this time Dr. Levy gets a chance to pursue his golf (shooting in the 90s) and worry about the mechanics of his swing. This winter, as Dr. Levy has moved across the fairways in his electric golf cart, other golfers have wondered about the strange letters on its side which read, "HDEIRX." They stand for "head down, elbows in and relax."
BOO TO SMU
Southern Methodist University in Dallas has now suspended athletic scholarships for all sports except football and basketball. Matty Bell, athletic director, says that while SMU may be "de-emphasizing" sports, the main trouble is money. The economy wave will cut back track and field (in which SMU had standout performers), swimming (SMU is one of the best teams in the history of the Southwest Conference), baseball, golf and tennis.
One may well ask: Why should football and basketball players have this athletic scholarship monopoly? Admirably enough, SMU has been trying to raise academic standards while retaining sports aspirations. But if it wants to limit athletic scholarships, these should be spread over a number of sports.
Manuel Ycaza, the colorful Panamanian jockey who had the best riding percentage in America in 1960 by coming down in front with 27% of his mounts, was recently confined in New York's Physicians' Hospital suffering from two problems.
The other morning, while pacing about his room and drinking orange juice, he said, "I have been on sleeping pills for two days and have had a good long sleep after my operation. Last summer when I fall and break my left clavicle a plate is put inside of me, but I hurry back to riding too soon and the hurt she did not mend. When I am riding at Santa Anita this winter the plate sticks through my skin and shakes all around, and I get big pains. Then my wrists and ankles and fingers begin to hurt and five doctors examine me and do not know what it is. I am only able to ride about eight days, but I get 13 winners and then I go to Hialeah and soon the stewards suspend me, once for 13 days and then, bingo, for another 10 days for rough riding.
"The stewards call me to a meeting with the other jockeys, and one steward [George R. Palmer] talks to me very hard and makes Manuel the clown in front of all the other riders. Always I say to myself, I must respect the stewards, for they have the authority, but if a man says to me on the street what this steward says in that room then I must punch him in the beak.
"If a jockey commits fouls, then he must pay," continued Ycaza, "but I wonder why it is that always I am the one who pays. I believe I ride hard but I know I ride honest, and the rules they must apply to everyone and not just to Manuel. If I am right and have to keep paying, then that is what I shall do. My family, she has a coat of arms.
"Now the plate is out and I must mend, but in six weeks I shall be back and everyone should be ready for Manuel."
THE HIGH RUN
Can a pool shark be created in two weeks? 20th Century-Fox, of all people, is trying to find the answer. Fox sent Actor Paul Newman and Pool Champion Willie Mosconi to New York for a two-week crash program aimed at teaching Newman to shoot a hot stick. This, in turn, is supposed to enable Newman to play the lead role in Fox's The Hustler with genuine authority.
The two worked out in the least likely of places: in the basement of an exclusive girls' school on the fashionable East Side. (The table is there because the president of the school is a pool bug.) Oaths and imprecations, heard only by a guinea pig and some guppies in the next room, filled the air as Mosconi pounded at Newman three hours a day, six days a week. "Hold that stick close to your side, close to your side.... Good, good, you made it.... Now cut the hell outa that thing!...Aw, you're sawing wood again."
As the days passed, Newman began to look more and more like a bona fide pool hustler. Mosconi accepted his student's first failures and nurtured him along. At first, he had shot too hard, like most amateurs. And he had a tendency to put too much spin on the ball. "Half speed, Paul," Mosconi said over and over. "Half speed and dead center." Then one day Newman began sinking balls cleanly and accurately. Last week he made bank shots and caroms and combination shots and ran a whole rack. Mosconi, beaming with pride, reracked the balls for his pupil. Newman broke them cleanly and tenderly and began picking them off again. His run ended at 21, a personal Newman record and a good run in almost any league.
"Imagine," said Mosconi. "A run of 21. Why, Paul, that's great." Then Mosconi, who owns a personal high run of 526, stroked 50 consecutive balls into the pockets and left Newman safe on the rail.
SEVEN BLIND MICE
Last week seven out of eight Pacific Coast League baseball directors voted to accept "the wild card," that innovation which allows a manager to stuff a "hitter" into the pitcher's batting spot without losing the pitcher (SI, Feb. 6). The argument of the seven is that this will stimulate attendance at PCL games. Nonsense, gentlemen, it may attract a few people for a few games, but that's all. It's typical of baseball management thinking today: very short.
•Tom Barry, the trainer who primed Cavan and Celtic Ash for surprising Belmont Stakes victories in 1958 and 1960, is readying an unraced colt named The Crogan for this year's Belmont. Colt is sired by French stayer, Guersant, from a Royal Charger mare named Byzantine Empress, and is training well at Camden, S.C.
•Coach Milt Schmidt may soon be given office job with Boston's hockey Bruins. Could be replaced by former Ranger Coach Phil Watson or Bruin Defenseman Hal Laycoe.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
•Louise Suggs, who beat Sam Snead and 12 other male pros at par-3 golf three weeks ago, will meet head-on with Arnold Palmer in late April on par-3 course, probably in Miami.
•Billy Haughton, famed harness racing driver and trainer, is unhappy with the man who trains his wife's two Thoroughbreds. Last week, Trainer Bill Owens told Haughton that his colt, Precious Morsel, wasn't quite ready. The horse won, paying $17.80; Haughton hadn't bet a dime.
•Colonel Eddie Eagan, director of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair sports program, is trying to get Olympic tryouts for the American team in New York. He is traveling abroad to induce various nations to send their top sports stars to the fair.
•Bill Reinhart, 30 years a basketball coach, watched his George Washington University team lose 16, win six during season, then knock off favorites in Southern Conference championship tournament—said, "In just three days, I've become a genius."