Principal speaker at a University of North Carolina testimonial last week was Mortimer Caplin, who heads up the Internal Revenue Service, which collects income taxes. During his undergraduate days at the University of Virginia, Caplin was quite a good boxer, and that in the heyday of Virginia's great boxing teams. Furthermore, Caplin's father and two uncles were boxing managers. Judged by his department's recent treatment of prizefighters, Caplin seems to take no sentimental view of the sport. In his day, he recalled at the testimonial, he had been up against some pretty tough fighters. "Recently," he quipped, "I have been in much tougher company—Joe Louis, Sonny Liston, Cassius Clay. Fortunately, it can be said that we won the nod in each bout."
Caplin was referring, of course, to collection of income taxes from those boxers. But there was certainly no win over Joe Louis, who owes so much that the IRS never can hope to collect it all. And what he seems to consider a win over Cassius Clay was achieved by means that a mobster shylock might envy.
Under the law an independent businessman (like Clay) has the option to 1) pay by April 15 his entire total estimated income tax for the coming year (including estimated deductions) or 2) pay his total estimated tax (including deductions) in quarterly installments. Clay was given neither option. He is a boxer and therefore, in the eyes of the IRS, is suspect. If the IRS suspects you, it seems, the law gives it an arbitrary right to discriminate against you.
May 10, 1964
On this principle, or the lack thereof, the Government took 90% of Clay's estimated tax from his Sonny Liston fight—granting him a deduction of $1,000. At the end of the year his deductions will be considered and refunds made. Meanwhile, he cannot use his own money. Only the IRS can use it.
"This is an arbitrary policy only imposed in the case of boxers," says Edward Jacko Jr., one of Clay's lawyers.
It is small wonder that, on leaving the meeting with IRS men, Archie Robinson, a little Black Muslim who rides faithfully on Clay's shoulder, muttered: "Now you see what I mean about this country—it's not going to give you a break because of your color."
"Nothing hinders progress," a wise but cynical man once said, "like prosperity." Anyone hoping that the National Hockey League might change its tight little six-team organization—by expanding westward or admitting the Western Hockey League to major status—had better relinquish his hope. With business up 10% over the previous year, the NHL's just-finished season totted up attendance records that were 93.3% of the league's rated seating capacity. In other words, NHL games failed to sell out less than one-tenth of the time—and that means even when the Bruins were playing the Rangers.
You think they're going to change anything?
THE KEY AND WHEEL CLUB
A few of the fellows from Freehold, N.J. took a ride up to Roosevelt Raceway last week, as is their custom during the trotting season. At the end of the evening they held in their trembling possession the winning ticket on a record $132,000 twin double payoff. They had formed a seven-man syndicate and invested $160 in a system of wheeling and dealing that had paid off $7,000 for one of them, Billy Bresnahan, once before.
Nor were they dependent on pure luck. Four of them own horses, and on the night they hit the twin, one of their horses, Rex Pick, won a race that paid $5.50. They cashed tickets on that, too.
"Roosevelt has been good to us," said Mike Sherman, whose Major Kerr paid $209 for a $2 ticket in 1952, one of the highest payoffs in trotting history.
Their system, by no means unique, depends on what the group calls "keys." They pick one horse in one part of the double and "wheel" him with every horse in the other race. If successful in the first half, they pick another key for the second part and wheel again.
They were in no hurry to collect. A few days were spent in a computation of shares, not all of which are equal, in consulting a lawyer—and in pondering the attitude of the Internal Revenue Service. On the night they did show up for their money they wheeled $160 again, just for kicks, and lost.
"I am probably ahead of the track at last," said Billy Bresnahan, "but not for long."
BIG JOB FOR MOMS
In recognition of Mother's Day, let us pay tribute to two bantam hens, weighing less than a pound apiece, which have just completed their job of hatching two whooping crane eggs, a task for titans. A full-grown whooper stands 5½ feet and its egg weighs half a pound.
The experiment, first of its kind to be successful, took place at a U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries station in Lafayette, La., and its success raised modest hopes that the whooping crane may be saved from extinction. Thanks to Patience and Petulance, the bantams, there are now 40 whoopers in the world. There had been only 39. Unfortunately, Patience's offspring died soon after hatching.
The two eggs came from Josephine, matriarch of the seven adult whooping cranes at the Audubon Park aviary in New Orleans, only ones in captivity. As the bantams hatched her two eggs, Josephine laid the first egg of a new clutch, and four more bantams are about to be pressed into service. Still another egg is undergoing mechanical incubation.
Patience received her name because she feels her only function in life is to hatch. Petulance was so named because she almost had to be forced off her egg to take nourishment, and seemed to resent it. Their contribution to science is greatly appreciated by the U.S. Wildlife and Fisheries department.
"We know now we can use foster mothers for whooping crane eggs," said John Lynch, in charge of the project. "This is exactly what our research is all about."
BIRTH OF A NOTION
Marlo Lewis, veteran producer of many a really big show for Ed Sullivan, is in high hopes of snaring some really big professional ski races for television next winter—if he can find a sponsor. As bait for network time buyers, Lewis and Thomas Sheridan Jr. of the Windham, N.Y. ski area have even organized the National Ski League, an association of U.S. ski areas, to foster the sport's professionalism. Each league member resort, Lewis said last week, will field a three-man squad of topnotch skiers to compete in a 13-week schedule beginning next January. The NSL hopes pro skiing will fill the television scheduling gap between pro football and baseball. Like its professional prototypes, the infant league plans to have such fillips as East and West divisions, All-Star events and even a World Series. Its bylaws, though, have not yet been established—the league directors are still studying the National Football League rulebook. The NSL has some fine prospects, however. Among them are the signatures of Egon Zimmerman and Pepi Stiegler, gold medalists at the Innsbruck Olympics, on the roster of Boyne Mountain, a league member.
TAPS AND BOOTS AND SADDLES
To the aristocracy of racing he was a special man with style and flashing color, an artful technician with a sensitive feeling for horses and racing. To the small bettor, who ranted about his reluctance to use the whip, he was a brigand. But to everyone, from Bombay to Epsom Downs, he was Le Crocodile, the dark Australian with the cold grey eyes who—his back humped like an angry cat, but sitting his horse with perfect balance—so often came from behind near the wire.
W. Rae Johnstone, who died at the age of 59 last week after suffering a heart attack at Le Tremblay racetrack, was a major figure in international racing for more than two decades. During a career that began in Sydney, Australia and stretched across 11 countries, the impeccably garbed Johnstone, who backed his horses heavily and tossed many a purse to the croupiers in Deauville before he married, won 2,000 races, including three English Derbies, the French and Irish Derbies and the Grand Prix de Paris.
Johnstone rode three times in this country without victory, and did not have much use for racing here. "It's too monotonous," he said. "As far as I can make out, people go to the races in America to eat sandwiches and hot dogs and bet on a number."
The atmosphere of the Paris tracks, opulent with rolling, richly green, up-and-down courses and filled with the slender figures of smart women, enraptured him. When he retired in 1957 he lamented that he never had ridden a great horse like Native Dancer or Citation. But most of all, he said, he would miss "the thrill" of the dawn drive to Chantilly with the morning sun breaking through the trees like light coming through cathedral windows. Chantilly will miss him, too.
MORE ON THE BRONTOSAURUS
Among the pathetic exhibits of the evils of boxing on David Brinkley's Journal Special last week (SI, May 4) was King Levinsky, a heavyweight boxer of the '30s, who has been heard to say many a time that he made $250,000 in the ring and was robbed of it by his managers, one of whom was his sister. He said it again on the Brinkley show in the thick and hesitant speech generally associated with punch-drunk. This, one was expected to conclude, was what boxing had done to a man.
Those who remember Levinsky from his early days in the ring drew no such conclusion. His speech and manner were quite the same then as now. As to his financial condition, boxers are not the only men who have fallen from wealth to penury. It has happened to actors and bankers, too. And the Kingfish is not so destitute as his poor-mouth salesmanship of neckties would suggest. Ranging between Miami Beach and Las Vegas, where the sporting gentry congregate, he makes a far better living at it than at anything else a man of his capacities might turn a hand to. So good, in fact, that he has boasted from time to time that he "could be driving Cadillacs." Good enough so that last month a burglar was able to steal $5,160 from his Miami Beach apartment.
NO WHIPSOCKET YET
In automobile racing's county-fair days, men were men and cars had fenders. Time and streamlining eliminated the fenders, and for the past several years racing cars have looked like bullets on wheels. But this Memorial Day at Indianapolis the sport might come full circle. Trying out for the "500" will be three fendered cars.
They could only have come from Californian Mickey Thompson, racing's inventive young man, who in 1962 won an award for the best-engineered car at the Speedway, then lost his chance to win the race because a 35¢ grease seal malfunctioned. In a corollary burst of merchandising inventiveness, the Mick also will be running on Sears, Roebuck tires, all four of which will be wide, fat models that other Indy drivers use only for balance and usually just on the left rear wheel. With this sort of antitraditional start, one might expect the Thompson engines to be Briggs and Stratton. They will be conventional Fords, unconventionally mounted in the rear.
About those fendered cars. Mickey asserts the aerodynamics involved will give him an extra five to 10 miles per hour. At the Indianapolis "500," where speed and victory are measured in fractions, that would be much more than enough. If his theory proves true, he could afford to add running boards.
THEY SAID IT
•Hal Higdon, first American to finish in the Boston Marathon (fourth in the race), on what his three children, aged 2, 4 and 5, think about his training: "Nothing—they think all daddies get up at 6 o'clock in the morning to run 10 miles before breakfast."
•Stan Musial, after looking at Houston's new domed stadium: "I got started too early in baseball; in air conditioning I could have lasted 20 years longer."
•Kathy Lain, Fort Worth travel agency official, asked the best time to visit Tahiti: "Between 21 and 45."