It is an unfortunate fact of our imperfect world that man's best acts often stem from the worst reasons. Last week, in the wake of the generally misunderstood Clay-Liston fight, Senator Philip Hart of Michigan reintroduced a boxing bill authored by the late Senator Estes Kefauver and proclaimed that "this bill represents boxing's last chance."
We think Senator Hart is overstating the importance of his bill, whatever its merit. Boxing is attractive to large numbers of people around the globe, and it will likely persist, with or without further law. Even in the U.S.S.R., where officials have tried to sterilize the sport out of existence with an overdose of regulations, boxing thrives. Whether Senator Hart's bill passes or not, the sport will continue. U.S. promoters would, if necessary, stage bouts in outer space.
Is the Hart-Kefauver bill best for boxing? In essence, the measure requires federal licensing of fighters, managers and promoters and provides for a federal commissioner who is empowered to establish rules, to suspend or revoke licenses, to survey contracts and to call in the FBI when the smell gets bad. It seems judicially sound, and there is no doubt that, like the federal gambling law of a few years back, it would drive some crooks from the scene. The bill also could bring order out of the chaos of state regulative bodies.
June 20, 1965
Boxing has always been a sport for individualists, and there is the possibility that a strong commissioner would make faceless nonentities of its more colorful people—and that would be a loss. But the public is discontent. Monopolistic practices—particularly the return-bout clauses that have stifled competition—are undesirable, and so perhaps the time has come for some national control.
The crux of the matter, it seems to us, will be the choice of the czar. It would be best if he were elected by the sport itself, but in any event he should be strong, have a knowledge of boxing and law, be beholden to nobody in boxing or politics and withal have a sympathy for the loners, the oddballs and dedicated nonconformists who, like them or not, are the stuff of which boxing is made. We do not know a man who fits our description of the czar—he may not exist—but if you find him, Senator Hart, we will be all for you.
When they have nothing to do, gorillas in a zoo become irritable and start bashing one another. The way to keep peace among the great apes is to entertain them, and that is not easy. Toss a basketball into a gorilla cage, and they will bat it around for a while, then chew it up. An automobile tire survives far better, but after a few days of biting into a tire and pummeling it, gorillas usually lose interest. After trying a variety of diversions, New York's Bronx Zoo has come up with a solution. In foul weather, when its four older gorillas cannot be outdoors watching people, the zoo lets them watch television.
After trying TV for the past five months, the zoo has found that cartoons and rough-house westerns are preferred by gorillas, but even these action-packed programs are not surefire pacifiers. For example, Pilipili, a restless adolescent male of eight years, often sits for a half hour, head in hands, raptly watching TV, but the old jungle blood is still in him. In the middle of a good program, for no apparent reason, Pilipili sometimes gets up, stalks over to the female sharing his cage and belts her one. Then he shuffles back and settles again before the big, magic eye.
AGAINST ALL ODDS
Ken Venturi's defense of his U.S. Open championship this week will have a special poignancy. Much has been written about the circulatory ailment that has caused the fingers of his right hand to go numb, and about his determination to keep playing in spite of this deteriorating condition. But insiders on the pro tour know that Venturi has been going through more anguish than he has admitted. Cortisone was prescribed for his ailment, and the drug has had some chilling side effects. He has developed an annoying and terribly painful case of acne on his back and has been suffering from hallucinations. Last Monday, while driving Mike Souchak and Dave Marr to Cleveland after giving a golf clinic in Akron, Venturi suddenly believed that somebody was in the car attacking the other golfers. He managed to stop the car, and the moment passed.
Venturi is understandably reticent about these things. But last weekend, at the Cleveland Open, he had to smear his hand with sticky, brown tincture of benzoin to keep some kind of grip on the club. As he left Cleveland for the U.S. Open all he was saying was: "Come hell or high water, I'll play in St. Louis. I'll tee it up. You always want to defend your titles."
Ken Venturi's victory in last year's U.S. Open was memorable because of his courage. Now, one year later, he is displaying even more of that quality.
ILLEGAL HAT TRICK
Technology has been moving in on the sport world at a pretty pace. In recent years radios have been installed on quarterbacks and swimmers have been wired to see how much they are putting out. Now even the horse show ring, last stronghold of Edwardian elegance and honor, seems to be threatened by crass electronics.
By tradition, professional horse trainers at ringside have always been allowed to slip an occasional word of advice sotto voce to exhibitors showing horses in the ring. But now Albert Hall Jr., president of the American Horse Show Association, reveals with despair, "We have reports that exhibitors with radios in their hats are receiving instructions from the sidelines. What next?"
We can guess what next. There may well come a day when not only the exhibitors' hats, but also the horses' ears will have to be searched for concealed radios. Any trainer sneaky enough to coach an exhibitor by radio sooner or later is going to want to talk to the horse direct.
KENNEBUNKPORT LEADS THE WAY
Spurred on by President Johnson, communities all across the nation are on a cleanliness kick. Right now, without much doubt, the tidy coastal town of Kennebunkport, Maine, is a giant step ahead of the rest. While other towns are cleaning up highways, slums and industrial filth, in Kennebunkport the big action is out at the city dump.
As dumps go, Kennebunkport's is decent enough. It merely happens that the President of the Dump Association, Edward Mayo, is one of those live wires who will not rest, or let anybody else rest, if there is so much as a package of trash discarded in the wrong place or a single rat loose on the premises. As Mayo sees it, the dump is as much a part of a community as the town hall, post office or Elks Club; it should be a place that people want to visit. Matter of fact, on pleasant summer Sundays Mayo serves refreshments at the dump and a good number of people show up.
Mayo looks to the day when municipal dumps all over the U.S. will become objects of civic pride. He's a real dreamer, that Mayo.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
For 32 years the Offenhauser engine, the epitome of simple, brute power, dominated the Indianapolis 500. This year, after a Ford-powered car won and Ford took seven of the first 10 places, there were rumors—and, in fact, published reports—that Lou Meyer, manufacturer of the Offy engine, was ready to call it quits.
Not so, says Meyer. He feels there is still virtue in the design, particularly since the Indy officials may have to reduce the cylinder displacement as the cars keep going faster. If there is a reduction in displacement, then the smaller Offy engines currently used on the midget circuit might become just the thing for the big show at the Brickyard. Whatever the future brings, Meyer has few worries. These days he leads a happy double life as manufacturer of Offys and as sales agent of the new, winning Fords.
A DOG'S LIFE
In the five years since he was a stumbling pup, Sinbad, a red-and-white cocker spaniel of Waukegan, Ill. has led a busy and rewarding life. Sinbad is a champion in his own right—he won best-in-show at the American Spaniel Club meeting in New York in 1963—and his association with nearly 200 prize bitches has already earned him around $13,000 in stud fees, more than most career dogs make in a lifetime. Among cockers, Sinbad is indisputably first father, having sired 65 champions in all, and his 25 champions in 1964 are more than any dog of any breed has sired in a year.
Last weekend Sinbad took off by jet for Caracas, there to meet a bitch named Denise, owned by a Venezuelan doctor. It's strictly a business trip for Sinbad. He gets all expenses and $150 for his services. Although Sinbad has now joined the jet set, his owners, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Winder of Waukegan, doubt if it will turn his head. Despite the demands on him, in his off hours Sinbad has always been a decent sort, a trifle aloof to strangers, perhaps, but a real palsy tailwagger among friends.
The sport of lacrosse is booming, and the Indians on Cornwall Island in the St. Lawrence River are rejoicing. The Indians on Cornwall provide 90% of the world's lacrosse sticks. In addition to supplying Canada and the U.S., the Cornwall stickmakers are now filling orders from hotbeds of lacrosse such as Australia, Ireland and Hong Kong as well as from new centers like Mexico, Switzerland and Italy.
Until this year 30 Indians working for the Chisholm Lacrosse Manufacturing Company on Cornwall Island could meet the demand. Now 48 are working full time, and they will turn out somewhere around 30,000 sticks before the year is done. Lacrosse sticks are handmade; no way has been devised to speed up the process of shaping a hickory frame and fastening a net of gut or leather to it. The Indians have tried mass-produced aluminum frames, but players would not go for them. When belaboring each other in the heat of play, as they are wont to do, lacrosse players feel there is nothing like a good hickory stick fashioned by Indians as of yore.
Skateboarding, the ever-growing rage, has just received a solid setback at SMU. After several football players skinned themselves up, SMU's offensive end, Mike Tabor, gave skateboarding a try and, in a tricky turn, crashed to the pavement. He now has a cast on his left leg and a screw in his ankle and may miss the opening game next fall. On orders from Coach Hayden Fry, the entire SMU squad, 80 strong, has given up the dangerous sidewalk sport.
THE WINNING HAND
As postmortems go, the second Clay-Liston fight may prove to be every bit as popular as the Bay of Pigs. We offer here a post postmortem from that boxing-wise former manager of former Champion Floyd Patterson, Cus D'Amato, who saw Clay's short right land on Liston's jaw (SI, June 7) but has had trouble explaining its potency. Belatedly, however, Cus has discovered something that he feels puts the issue finally to rest.
While studying photographs of the fight, D'Amato realized that Clay and Liston were using Frager gloves rather than Everlasts, the make generally used in title matches. The Fragers, like the Everlasts, weigh eight ounces as required, but they are padded differently. Comparatively speaking, the Everlasts are pillowed across the knuckles, while the Fragers are squared off and flattened across the knuckles. In the Frager, quite simply, there is less to cushion a hard hand when it reaches the mark. And not even Liston—who later remarked on the power of Clay's punch—ever denied that it reached the mark.
THEY SAID IT
•Minnesota Football Coach Murray Warmath, on Notre Dame's aggressive recruiting: "When you're up against mother, the padre and Ara, the boy is going to Notre Dame."
•Al (Cotton) Farmer, Fort Worth racing driver and ex-rodeo performer, asked which of the two sports is more dangerous: "When you get a car on top of you, you just lie there and somebody comes to pick you up, but you get a bull on top of you and you've still gotta outrun the bull to the fence."