I think Tex Maule's account of the championship fight between Muhammad Ali and Ernie Terrell (Cruel Ali with All the Skills, Feb. 13) was degrading to the champion. Maule speaks of Ali as vindictive and of the fight as being "a wonderful demonstration of boxing skill and a barbarous display of cruelty." Boxing is cruel, boxers are vindictive and life is gray, not black and white.
He is ridiculed for what he says and for what he doesn't say. He is rebuked for his religious beliefs and the company he keeps. He has been called an extremist and a traitor to his country. Isn't it time we silenced our insults and recognized Cassius Clay for what he is, the finest heavyweight in a decade?
Muhammad Ali apologized over TV for his conduct during the eighth round of his recent championship fight with Ernie Terrell. It was not necessary. If the American public is going to judge a fighter's character and public image, in addition to judging his talents, then it is grossly unfair and unjust to fail to shed sufficient light on the many things that contribute to a person's character. Anyone who denounces Ali's Black Muslim affiliation, without making it clear, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the Black Muslims are a strong reaction to everything that is shameful in America, demonstrates a blatant lack of integrity. We have Black Muslims because we also have "black Christianity," "black justice," "black democracy," "black Judaism," "black dual-standards" and "black opportunity." In becoming a priest in the Episcopal Church, I, a Negro, have reacted to "black America" by attempting to make it white (not to be confused with "whitewashing").
Muhammad Ali has been severely criticized for his alleged unpatriotic statements. If more of us, black and white, spoke with equal candor, Ali's statements would represent an overwhelming majority. It's just that we believe in "popular," or "proper" declarations, which parallel Ali's Cause but fail to produce his Effect.
I was in the U.S. Air Force for three years and received an honorable discharge in 1949. If Uncle Sam called me again to the service of my country, I wouldn't even insist that I go in as a chaplain (who, as a rule, enjoys noncombat status). I wouldn't even ask for time to pick up my tooth brush. But that certainly doesn't mean that I relish the idea of cutting off my earthly career, prematurely, when I think it can be avoided. I have not accrued the wealth that Ali presumably has, but I have accrued enough comforts, skills, knowledge, spiritual depth and wealth, security and happiness to want to continue enjoying them.
I wish my parishioners would be a little more like Ali—outspoken. The universal church I serve is branded as being out of date or ineffective. If it appears to be so, it is because we ministers are seldom "permitted" to deal with significant and honest problems—only with what people choose to expose of themselves (which is pitifully little). So Ali gives a grand expose of what so many of us really think and, instead of dealing charitably with it, we clobber him.
We owe Ali an apology; he doesn't owe the public a damned thing (besides those disciplines we all owe a civilized society). When any man climbs into a ring and risks getting his brains scrambled—in a day when brains are valued above all else—for our entertainment, we can ill afford to brand or humiliate him. Ali is everybody—unrestrained. Our world would be better if we had more clay pigeons to shoot at rather than the hidden terrors we face.
THE REV. LEWIS P. BOHLER JR.
Church of the Advent (Episcopal)
Your Feb. 6 cover is superb, except that the title, "The Big Fight: Clay vs. Terrell," could have read "The Big Fight: Cassius Clay vs. Muhammad Ali." It would appear that this man's biggest fight is with himself. He has not found himself yet, and so the fight goes on. The two images of him on your cover showing his unsure footing are quite apropos.
KARL E. WARMING
Congratulations on your prompt, on-the-spot coverage of the Clay-Terrell fight. Robert Handville's lifelike drawings are particularly impressive and provide a refreshing change of pace.
KNOWING THE SCORE
After witnessing the match between Clay and Terrell I have come to one conclusion: since we are now in the jet age, we should be able to bring boxing up to date also. Why not save an opponent or contestant from serious damage from a severe beating such as Terrell took from Clay by having the scores posted after each round for everyone to see? It's a shame to have to watch a man being beaten nearly to death before we can find out if he has won or lost.
CHARLIE W. STOVALL
Thanks so much for your article on the springer spaniel national field trials (Spring for the Feathers, Feb. 6). Having been a participant in them for the last 10 years, I was glad to see this game get some national publicity. The action photographs and Duncan Barnes's article were a real boost to the small world of springer people.
Having been able to shoot over Wivenwood Willie myself in the first few weeks he was in this country and then to have seen him at the National Championship, I found the comparison unbelievable. The change is a real tribute to Handler Larry MacQueen and the quality of dogs that are run in the competition.
JOHN S. WHITAKER
My compliments on the very fine pictures of Wivenwood Willie. Hanson Carroll's photography is as exciting as it is beautifully and superbly executed.
The pictures now grace my bulletin board—right next to the photographs of the Arizona swimsuits.
CHRISTOPHER R. OLSEN
OUT AGAIN, FINNEGAN
Your Feb. 13 SCORECARD item, "Finnegan's Fake," was most intriguing. But for the sake of those of us who dare only to dream of a carefree return to the playing fields, please tell us the end of the story. Did Mrs. Finnegan discover that football was the real cause of her husband's broken collarbone by reading SI, and, if so, what was her reaction?
New York City
•What would any good wife's reaction be? All is well. But Finnegan fakes again, see below.—ED.
My wife read your article, "Finnegan's Fake." She reacted as expected. My new address: c/o YMCA, Chicago.
MICHAEL R. FINNEGAN
In reading your SCORECARD section (Feb. 13), I noted that Dr. Deborah Sharpe, a New York psychologist, commented that pink would be a great color for a race track but would probably "give a track owner apoplexy."
Frederick L. Van Lennep, principal owner of the new $15 million Pompano Park harness track in south Florida, must therefore be, by Dr. Sharpe's description, the most apoplectic man in the world of racing. Pink, or Pompano Pink, as it is now described, is the dominant theme throughout the whole grandstand and clubhouse.
RICHARD S. WILSON
General Manager, Pompano
Park Harness Raceway
Pompano Beach, Fla.
I used to be a Rick Barry fan. I even own a Rick Barry autographed basketball. But when I read that my "no cavity" idol used hair spray (Razor-cut Idol of San Francisco, Feb. 13), it was all over. I wonder what his favorite bubble bath is.
LEON J. BUCZKOWSKI
For a long time I have been seeking a well-written article concerning professional basketball. After reading your article on Rick Barry, I'm sure I have finally found it! Hallelujah.
San Francisco's Rick Barry is, of course, a great shooter, but there are times when instead of helping his team he hurts it. Whenever he is not hitting from the floor he yells to his coach to take him out of the game. Now a superstar does not do this, because, even if he is not scoring, his team benefits from his presence in the game in other ways. Rick plays defense like it's against his religion. Let's see articles on the players who do not get enough publicity but should.
I am in the eighth grade and only 5'1" tall. I am on the basketball team and I start at guard. I would like to know if there is any way or any kind of exercise to make you taller or if it all comes naturally. It gets pretty rough under there.