LEFT HOOKS AND TENTERHOOKS
In Manhattan last week Cassius Clay was cutting a record, and in Chester, Pa. Jack Nilon was biting his fingernails. Each in his way, both men were waiting for Emperor Sonny Liston to decide whether there would be a September Clay-Liston title fight in Philadelphia.
As for Clay, he was willing, at a moment's notice, to wrap up the LP (it will be a recital of his poems and snappy sayings labeled I Am the Greatest), check out of his plush suite at the Americana Hotel and go into serious training for the first time in his life. Previously Clay has trained, so to speak, in Miami. This time he would hole up in a monastic work camp in New Jersey, "chopping wood and letting the reporters in for just a few minutes a day."
Jack Nilon, Liston's adviser, and his brothers, Bob and Jim Nilon, who will promote the fight, are just as eager as Cassius. Although only eight weeks remain before Sept. 30, tentative date for the light, everything and everybody stands ready, says Bob Nilon. "The tickets and program are at the printers, waiting for the word. Philadelphia Stadium has been mapped out. The vendors are marking time. There's not a detail we have overlooked. After all, we've been planning this fight for more than a year."
August 11, 1963
What the Nilon boys had not planned for was Pennsylvania Attorney General Walter Alessandroni. Last week he ruled against the fight application made by Intercontinental Promotions, a corporation composed principally of Bob and Jim Nilon and Liston himself. By promoting his own fight, Liston stood to be taxed on a relatively moderate corporate basis, rather than on straight income (in his case, up to 90%). But such an arrangement, said the attorney general, violated the state's athletic code.
Stung by the decision ("We had consulted experts first," Bob Nilon pouted afterward), the Nilons had one alternative: drop Liston from the corporation but increase his share of the purse. And although Liston, hedgehopping around the country, was making negative noises and talking about next year, when his tax situation would be much improved, Jack Nilon was confident he would come around. "Ten percent of $2 million," said Jack with ironclad logic, "still beats 48% of no purse at all."
At odds for years on the question of off-track betting as a source of revenue in New York, Assembly Speaker Joseph F. Carlino (Republican and dead against it) and Mayor Robert F. Wagner (Democrat and all for it) are standing eyeball to eyeball again. Carlino recently announced that he was sending two assembly employees to London to investigate legalized bookmaking. Wagner's instant response: he is sending two city employees abroad, and not just to London but to Paris and New Zealand as well. In both cases read: to confirm their bosses' opinions. Both politicians obviously are eager to get the taxpayer's money and are happy to spend his money to get it.
Jacks, as all children know, is a game in which, using only one hand, you bounce a ball and-while it is in the air—quickly pick up jackstones, first one, then two and on up to 10. Now comes word from New Jersey that adults have taken it up. Herb Hosking, a proper insurance type with a good jack hand, started the ball bouncing at Lake Valhalla's tennis-and-swim club recently. He simply proclaimed himself the men's singles jacks champion. His fellow club members were not willing to let a title like that go unchallenged. Now any weekday afternoon around 4 you can find Herb on the clubhouse porch surrounded by as many as 20 men and women, all down on their knees. Rules are simple and strictly enforced. No help from children, no furtive practicing at home, no pillows for sore knees. And you have to bring your own gin. Some players are good enough to sweep up all 10 jacks and go on to intricate variations called "chicken in the basket" and "sheep over the fence." Others aren't as nimble. "We've had a few hospital cases," said Hosking. "One of our junior players, he's 29, made a wild throw, lunged off balance and broke his elbow. And he was only on twosies."
Adult jacks has everything, even a mysterious blonde who wanders in to watch. "There's one in every jacks contest the world over," said Hosking, who by now is a former champion. "They are usually called Edie, but we haven't figured this one out yet."
This weekend in Boise, Idaho—or any other weekend until the chill of autumn sets in—much of the city's population will gather on the banks of the Boise River to rig up for a diversion known as "tubing." So far as we know, tubing is unique to Boise, though it could be enjoyed anywhere that has a reasonably placid river running through town.
From basements, attics and garages the population of Boise assembles inner tubes, gaily colored plastic air mattresses and yellow survival rafts, and then, clad in bathing suits, gathers by the river. Elderly matrons, children, mothers and fathers, swarms of high school kids, college co-eds and their admirers, all come to float a seven-mile stretch that starts at an irrigation diversion dam about five miles above town. The river gurgles coolly out of the mountains, is restrained by two dams, wanders past three city parks, through the center of town and on down the valley. The well-equipped float party includes an extra inner tube holding up a cooler full of beer, plastic bags full of boiled eggs and celery and plastic Clorox bottles of Martinis or Scotch on the rocks bobbing along behind on a rope. Family groups are strung together by ropes. Young lovers float side by side on twin plastic air mattresses. Athletic types attempt with mighty strokes to set speed records, flashing past intellectuals who never move a muscle except to turn the pages of a book. The possessor of a four-man tube finds it ideal for bridge.
Halfway down the course a tavern stands on the riverbank, strategically placed to help neglectful tubers rectify the error of not having brought enough along. For most tubers the adventure ends with a picnic in the beautiful green park at the edge of town. Here in the twilight they pull their craft from the water and enjoy steaks or hot dogs cooked over open fires.
Pennsylvania's highly original experiment—naming as commissioner of a sport a man who knows something about that sport—has ended with the resignation of Lawrence Sheppard as chairman of the state harness racing commission. Sheppard, one of the most respected men in trotting for almost 50 years, defended himself for three years against a politically inspired barrage of irresponsible scattershot charges (SI, June 5, 1961) by Democrats (he is a Republican) before he quit in disgust. At bottom, what irritated the politicians was that Sheppard was more concerned with the welfare of the sport than with reaping big profits for well-connected Pennsylvanians and the tax office. He joins Alfred Vanderbilt (see page 18) in unmerited exile as a dangerous radical.
TIGER A LA MAHARAJA
A couple of maharajas were whooping it up in the back room of one of their palaces last year and, in the course of a merry evening, decided to sell American tourists a tiger hunt at, say, $140 a day. But a rather special tiger hunt.
Naturally, the first place they made the offer was in Houston. There, last week, the Maharaja of Baroda and his sidekick, the Nawab Habeeb Jung Bahadur of Paigah, made their pitch with refreshing candor.
"We know," the maharaja said, "that for many hunters, including the Texans, the Indian tiger is the last word, the final dream. For us, we shoot them like rats."
His Royal Highness is now president of Princely Travel India, which is working with American Express and British Overseas Airways to sell various tours. One very special job is called the Grand Mogul Tour and includes:
One tiger brought into range of client.
Air-conditioned palace quarters.
Personalized stationery adorned with royal crest, and monogrammed linen, which guests are urged to steal.
Silver boxes for the ladies to carry betel nut in.
Twenty-four-hour bar service, whisky served only in silver flasks.
Torchlight pageants with hundreds of natives, dozens of elephants and bevies of dancing girls.
A tour of the Taj Mahal, guided by a descendant of the man who built it.
The maharaja, with a delicate appreciation of local rivalries, also assured the Houstonians that the offer would not be made in Dallas.
When the Wally Butts football scandal broke last March, it was assumed that the Southeastern Conference would proceed at once with its own investigation of the case. Instead, to use a phrase popular in the South, it has proceeded "with all deliberate speed." As Butts's $10 million libel suit against The Saturday Evening Post went to trial in Atlanta, Commissioner Bernie Moore announced that the conference finally had acted—it had selected a law professor to "investigate." His first assignment: go to Atlanta and attend the trial.
The boy wonder of the Indianapolis "500" is Jack Zink, a Tulsan who has sent cars to the Brickyard since 1950, has won it twice and in 1962 introduced the first gas-turbine entry. His achievements at Indianapolis have been backed by racing-car equipment and tools worth somewhere around $6 million. His drive has been to produce machines that will whirl around the brick oval at 150 mph or better.
Now something has happened to Zink. He is concerned with the calibration of speed differences of as little as one-tenth of a knot. He has taken up sailboating.
In his new hobby Sailor Zink discovered early that it is difficult to judge the minute speed differentials that win sailboat races. His sailboat had neither throttle nor speedometer. Astute trimming of sails, adjusting the centerboard and such can trim seconds and win races but, aboard a vessel like his Lightning class sloop and at speeds that often approximate a mere three knots, the determination of what maneuver is best in a given situation can be most subtle. Traditionally, the best combination of ingredients has been arrived at by arduously achieved compounds derived from trial and error.
Zink seems to be changing all that. He has invented a gadget that gauges the relative increase or decrease in speed resulting from any maneuver. The contraption consists of a slim steel tube, a movable spring within the tube, a plastic red-and-white fishing bobber and a length of line sufficient to drag the contrivance well beyond the turbulence of the wake, which would foul up his readings. The whole thing cost him, maybe, a dollar.
The plastic bobber is drilled with eight holes, four on a side, so that water can pass through. With this water flow the filled bobber has exactly the density of water. Trimming the sails shows whether you get more distance for a given maneuver, or less. The device does not show how fast you are going but whether, by a certain experiment, you have gained or lost speed.
Last weekend, sailing his Lightning Jayzee on Oklahoma's Grand Lake, Zink won his first race.
With a good day's salmon fishing behind him, Leslie Douglas, who had been fishing off California's Humboldt Bay bar, was in an amiable mood. He drew alongside another boat and said," Have some. I've got too many."
He had, in fact, two too many. The California limit is three. Douglas had five. The other fisherman was Harold Carling, fish and game warden.
THEY SAID IT
•Adolph Rupp, basketball coach at the University of Kentucky: "Any boy born in Kentucky today has two ambitions: to be President of the United States and to play basketball for the University of Kentucky."
•Vic Wertz, Minnesota's veteran first baseman, after Mickey Mantle hit a long one in batting practice: "That guy could hit from an operating table."