During the past fortnight or so, the byline of Staff Writer John Lovesey has appeared over three major stories from well-separated European sporting venues: Le Mans (June 28 issue), the Henley Regatta (last week) and the British Open at Royal Birkdale (page 16 of this issue). The pace is not at all atypical of Lovesey, who happens to be the foreign source upon which SPORTS ILLUSTRATED depends most heavily. John, you see, is as unique as the Cantabrigian tiddly winks team that he once wrote about: he is SI's only editorial staff member based outside of New York, lucky bloke.
That circumstance and his own reportorial ability have taken Lovesey to Ghana to cover Cassius Clay's conquest of Africa; to Helsinki for Jim Beatty's second sub-four-minute mile in four days; to Hungary for a story on Laszlo Papp, the only professional athlete behind the Iron Curtain; to Cairo for a world shooting championship; and to the Greek island of Corfu where he spent most of the time in swimming trunks while researching a story on the Club Méditerranée ("More work like that, please," cabled Lovesey).
A brown-haired, 32-year-old English-man of medium height and engaging manner, Lovesey lives with his wife and four children in London, which has placed him within easy range of such newsworthy European sports figures as Roger Bannister, Stirling Moss, Jimmy Clark, Toralf Engan, Pentti Nikula, Tony Boyden, Terry Downes and such itinerant Americans as Pete Dawkins, Floyd Patterson, Buddy Edelen and Florence Chadwick. A football (soccer) fan by inclination, Lovesey has learned to appreciate almost every sport known to European man.
At Hampton Grammar, Lovesey was in a class selected for intensive study designed to win university places. Instead, John joined Time & Life at the age of 15 as an office boy. After two years in the Royal Air Force, Lovesey was promoted by Managing Editor Andre Laguerre, then Time Inc.'s London Bureau Chief, to "the embryo state of whatever my job is now." John remembers his first bylined piece for SI, an account of the 1957 Cornell-Yale final at Henley, with mixed feelings. He mistakenly called it the first all-American final, an error picked up by a reader and acknowledged in an editorial comment beginning, "Lovesy, we Lovesy not." "The only pleasure I got out of that," he says, "was the sly satisfaction that the editors misspelled my name."
July 18, 1965
Editors notwithstanding, Lovesey himself fits his description of the sportsmen he meets: "generally happy, well-rounded characters." Of course, some peculiar things have happened. "Hilariously," Lovesey recalls solemnly, "I once broke my leg on an SI assignment, covering a course at one of Britain's Outward Bound physical conditioning schools." He was left unmaimed by a spectacular and near-fatal skid on a dark, icy Finnish road. The oddest incident of all, however, occurred not long ago: "I have just met a Britisher," Lovesey feverishly wired, "who thinks that baseball is the most intelligent game in the world and that American football is better than soccer."