CRACK IN THE PLASTER
I just can't believe that Jack Dempsey's gloves were loaded, even though his manager, Jack (Doc) Kearns, says that they were (He Didn't Know the Gloves Were Loaded, Jan. 13). Kearns, known by his own admission for his cheating ways, shouldn't be counted on to tell the truth. It is possible that Willard was in poor shape for the fight and, obviously, Dempsey was in excellent condition. This could have been the reason for the terrible beating.
Don't you believe it. I saw Jack Dempsey in action in the early '30s when he was way past his prime, but making a comeback effort. He whipped four men in four rounds at Sioux Falls, S. Dak. One man, a big, tough fellow of about 250 pounds, was knocked kicking by Dempsey's short chops to the jaw after he tried to lean on Jack and tire him out. The big fellow made a speech to the crowd afterward. "lf anyone tells you Jack Dempsey can't hit anymore, you tell them for me that they're crazy," he said.
In my book Jack Dempsey was the ever-lastin' best.
HARRY E. CHRISMAN
In the winter of 1917-18, Jess Willard came to the Army camp where I was stationed and put on a four-round boxing exhibition with our camp champion for the entertainment of our soldiers. There were a couple of fellows in our outfit who had freighted with Jess in the Dakotas, hauling merchandise over the prairie with mule teams, so we took a keen interest in the bout. Jess was always a big and powerful man and his uppercut, which seemed to rise up from the floor, would devastate anyone who got in its way. But he was then so overweight and so slow and clumsy that he tripped a couple of times on the canvas and nearly fell. There was never any doubt in my mind that Dempsey could beat him. In fact, I always thought that there were a couple of other heavyweights who could have done the same.
January 27, 1964
I hardly believe it possible that Jack's fists could have been encased in concrete shells in the short time there was after the gloves were placed on his hands. In any case, it is all beside the point, because in my mind there is no doubt that Dempsey could have beaten any fighter that ever lived that day in Toledo.
RALPH W. ELKINS
I am disgusted with all this hokum about Jack Dempsey having loaded gloves when he fought Jess Willard. Just because a fighter receives a terrific beating doesn't mean that the fighter that gave it to him had rocks in his gloves. Did Joe Louis have loaded gloves when he fought Max Schmeling? Of course he didn't.
I bandaged my fist, soaked the bandage with water and sprinkled it with an ample amount of plaster of paris and worked it well into the bandages, then I covered my fist with a turkish towel to let it dry. When the plaster of paris began to set, the bandage got hot. It took about 45 minutes to dry, but it was far from being a lethal weapon.
I then started punching a hassock which I felt was about as hard as any fighter. After the first punch the plaster was anything but hard. After three punches it was almost back to a powder form.
Perhaps Jack Kearns died convinced that by loading Dempsey's gloves he had staged the greatest steal in boxing history that July 4, 1919 in Toledo. His ability in duplicity and trickery was exceptional but his ignorance of plaster of paris was even more so. Soggy bandages, rather than concrete block busters, were probably created by his sprinkling this powder on Dempsey's water-soaked hand wrappings. As an orthopedic surgeon, experienced in the usage of such plaster from 1918 to the present time, I challenge his results.
Plaster of paris is anhydrous calcium sulphate which, by the addition of water, crystallizes into rocklike hardness. Under the direct vision of Willard's chief second, Kearns could not have made a paste thick enough to be effective and, more important, the wet plaster could not have been kept in one position sufficiently long to harden—in this instance at least 10 to 20 minutes. If Dempsey's fingers had remained extended as the plaster hardened, he could not have made a fist and, similarly, had the plaster hardened when his fingers were tightly closed he could not have straightened them. Also, Kearns stated that he "cracked off" the bandages; this would have been an impossibility with such tough cotton wrappings.
To prove these conclusions I put on regulation bandages, soaked one hand in water and then applied a generous amount of plaster of paris over the knuckles. After a wait of 10 minutes I put on boxing gloves and tested them against a heavy leather punching bag by a brisk workout. The plaster did not harden but became granular and did not remain in place. The bandages could be removed only by unwrapping or cutting. My snugly wrapped, dry hand appeared to be superior and to have more punching power.
Without question the plaster of paris never hardened over Dempsey's knuckles and added little, if anything, to the lethal authority of Dempsey's fists.
HAROLD M. CHILDRESS, M.D.
SCHOOL FOR SKEPTICS
Congratulations on your fine article on Davidson, the small college that made good in big-time basketball (Five Tall Strangers Shoot 'Em Up, Jan. 13).
It is heartening to see a school with such a fine academic record receive recognition of this sort. Seldom do schools produce so much in the field of athletic competition without sacrificing their academic principles. Let those skeptics who felt the two could not be combined now take heart.
We students at Davidson are delighted to be recognized for something other than our beautiful campus and our high academic quality. Bob Ottum painted a most accurate picture, but he failed to note one important consideration about the team: three of the starting five are juniors and one is only a sophomore. So, with Captain Jerry Holland being the only starter to graduate, Davidson will be shooting 'em up next year, too.
I see where your BASKETBALL'S WEEK editors have finally come to their senses and picked Davidson as No. 1 in the South! Hurrah for the Wildcats!
ACT YOUR GAUGE
In your January 6 issue a picture of Governor Pat Brown and Chief Justice Earl Warren on a duck hunt showed Mr. Warren holding a small-gauge shotgun that a Mr. William Oliver (19TH HOLE, Jan. 13) called a "boy beginner's gun."
I would like to point out to Mr. Oliver that it is not the gauge of the gun that counts—but the shooter's ability to hit with the smaller gauge.
The big difference, of course, between the 12 and the 28 or .410 is the size and force of the shot pattern. Therefore the smaller the shot pattern the better the shooter it takes to bring down the game.
The trend of the "true sportsman" is toward the smaller-gauge guns.
HAROLD R. REED
I was highly incensed after reading about the new method of selecting our Olympic track team in SCORECARD (Dec. 16). I disagree with the U.S. Olympic track and field committee and Mr. David Howison (19TH HOLE, Jan. 6) on their stand. What do they want to do, turn the Olympics into a popularity contest? The purpose of the Olympics—and all track and field, for that matter—is to encourage competition and a striving for excellence according to the tradition of the ancient Greeks. The old system gave an equal chance not only to the famous but also to the unknown, and prevented an established star from resting on his laurels. At the finals in Japan the winner will not be chosen by a group of judges according to his name or past performances. There will be only two judges: the stopwatch and the tape measure.
PETER A. DORNBROOK
As a charter subscriber to and faithful reader of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, I find very little fault with your magazine. However, Alfred Wright's flagrant slighting of Paul Harney in his article (Off at L.A. with a Clink, Clank, Jan. 13) cannot go unchallenged by this admirer of Paul's golfing prowess. Perhaps we central Massachusetts golf fans take a provincial pride in Harney, but you must recognize his consistency as a money winner and the fine, sometimes spectacular golf of which he is capable.
The relating of the wintering-over practices of professional golfdom's big guns and its precocious sophomores was interesting, to be sure, but when done to the extent that Harney's winning of the Los Angeles Open has to be relegated to the last, short paragraph in the article, then I must and do protest. Please don't overlook the fact that Paul started out as the leading money winner of 1964.
FRANCIS P. CASSIDY