It is hard to feel sympathy for a man who refuses to serve his country, but the New York State Athletic Commission and the World Boxing Association did their best last week to make Muhammad Ali an underdog. Although Ali has yet to be arrested or charged, much less convicted, the New York commission suspended his boxing license and took away his heavyweight title minutes after he formally indicated he would not submit to induction. The WBA was more laggardly in doing its patriotic duty and getting its name in the papers. The Associated Press didn't move the WBA's statement until nearly four hours had elapsed.
Edwin B. Dooley, the chairman of the New York commission, said Ali's decision was "detrimental to the best interests of boxing," and this could be the case. But, although Dooley may have the authority to declare Ali's title vacant as far as New York is concerned, there was no need to act so intemperately. Boxing and New York would have been safe for the 30 to 60 days U.S. Attorney Morton Susman estimates it will take to prepare charges against Ali. The only ones who could get hurt by the delay are the ghoulish promoters, who hope to make a quick buck from elimination bouts to determine a new champion. Most regrettably, Ali's rights as a citizen, which the Government has so scrupulously safeguarded all these months, seem to have been violated. Of course, it's unlikely that either Dooley or M. Robert Evans, the president of the WBA, would have acted as they did if they felt that Ali was in any position to bring suit.
Boxing can afford to tolerate Ali the while. It cannot afford to play fast and loose with the principles and due processes of the law.
No sooner did Bill Bradley sign with the New York Knickerbockers last week than the press started updating the old myth that deep down he's plotting to be (check one) Governor of Missouri, U.S. Senator, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Secretary of State, President.
Indeed, Bradley is a very anomalous cat for the NBA—a banker's son, an Ivy Leaguer, a Rhodes scholar, a student of philosophy, politics and economics—but why not just take him for what he is, a young man of 23 who has decided to play ball for love and money? The money is about half a million dollars for four years. The love is for the game of basketball. Bradley simply wasn't satisfied working out alone in an Oxford gym imagining he was one-on-one with Oscar Robertson. He had to find out how he'd really do against the Big O or Jerry West.
First, on July 7, Bradley has to go into the Air Force for six months. However, during his last month of active duty he will be stationed at McGuire AFB in New Jersey, about 1½ hours from Madison Square Garden, so he may be able to work out with the Knicks on weekends, and perhaps even get into a few home games before January. How will he do in the pro baskets? Can he become the instant star everyone expects him to be? Or will he be another Cazzie Russell? There are the questions to be pondered, not whether Bill Bradley is going to be President after Teddy Kennedy.
THAT'S USING YOUR HEAD
According to Pedro Mir, the matchmaker of the Miami jai alai fronton, when a jai alai ball, which is very hard, comes zinging off the front wall it may be going 150 mph. Understandably, if the ball hit a player on the head it could fracture his skull. Which is what happened last summer to Orbea, one of Mir's players, and, he says, the best frontman in the world. So, Mir and Assistant General Manager Buddy Berenson decided it was time to see a man about helmets.
They settled on modified jockey helmets. But the players felt they were unmanly and refused to wear them. Finally, a young frontman named Odriozola was persuaded to try one on for size. This was a good thing, because Odriozola was the only one whose head was small enough to fit. Next he was asked to wear the helmet for a shot or two for feel. The crucial impact test would come later with a wooden dummy. Ah, but no one took into account the singular makeup of the Basque male. Odriozola sent a terrific shot against the front wall and, as the ball came back, made a small bow and let it strike him full on the helmet. The blow sent Odriozola reeling, but a little smile was on his lips. All Miami jai alai players now wear helmets.
NEW WORK IN THE OULD SOD
Is there an earthworm shortage? There had better be for Dominic Molphy's sake. Molphy, 30, of Dublin, recently set up a firm known as U.S. Exports Ltd. to pick Irish earthworms and ship them to the U.S. "Our target," he says, "is 100 million worms a year."
Ireland is evidently well endowed with both earthworms and potential earthworm pickers. A survey Molphy carried out near Dublin revealed places where there are as many as 500,000 worms an acre. "In the Kildare area," he says, "worms seem to be very plentiful."
The Irish worm-picking season runs from now to October, a period when the nighttime temperature is a suitable 50°, and there is a bit of moisture in the air. The favored picking method is to use a miner's lamp and helmet. Cans are strapped to each leg, leaving the hands free to pick.
Molphy says he will need 500 regular pickers. "Up to now," he says, "we have spoken to almost 600. Everyone wants to see for themselves and have a look at it, so we don't know how many will actually keep at it."
Molphy is going to pay his pickers $2.10 a gallon; there are 900 to 1,000 worms to a gallon, depending on their size. Says Molphy: "Pickers in Canada—and it's highly developed around Toronto—can pick a gallon in a half hour."
Once delivered to the premises at Shamrock Terrace, North Strand, Dublin, the worms will be placed in treated peat moss in cool rooms, where, Molphy says, they will curl up and go into a form of hibernation. Just before being shipped they will be awakened by raising the temperature, and given a good feed of baby-chicken mash, bran and skimmed milk.
Molphy, who expects to get roughly $2.80 a gallon for his worms, has little hope that he can muster the labor force to attain his 100-million goal this year. However, once the word gets out, he believes that fair-weather pickers will swell the ranks. "On mornings after a good night, you could get two million worms delivered to the storage department," he says. "For this you would need perhaps a thousand men, women and children, which is not at all impossible in the Dublin area."
BEFORE THE FALL
One of the newest brides on the pro golf tour is Mrs. Tom Weiskopf, who as Jeanne Ruth was Miss Minnesota of 1965.
"The one thing I can't get used to yet," Jeanne said last week, "is how much some of the big-time golfers' wives criticize their husbands in front of the whole group. At one recent get-together, a really big golfer—whom I won't dare mention—sat back laughing as his wife told him all the mistakes he made that day. Wrong grip. Wrong stance. She even told him he took too long to make a putt. I wouldn't dare try this on Tom."
"Of course not," Weiskopf replied. "You don't know how to play golf yet."
Although they seem to have lost something in translation, the following are purportedly the thoughts which flashed through the mind of James Couttet, a Frenchman and a former world-champion skier, while he was swimming in the Mediterranean four years ago: "Why not build an underwater cable car for tourists who want to visit the depths? After all, not everyone, especially people over 40, are able or willing to take the risks of skin diving. In a way, it would be an extension of the Valle Blanche cable car, which thousands of nonskiers or inexpert skiers take at Chamonix or Courmayeur to see an extraordinary panorama of the Alps. I've spent years with ski lifts and cable cars in the Alps. If I could invent an underwater cable car I'd have a raison d'√™tre for spending half of the year on the Mediterranean coast."
Voil√†, this summer the Telescaphe, the world's first underwater cable car, is scheduled to begin shuttling tourists, at depths ranging from 26 to 33 feet, between two rocky shores of Callelongue Cove, a few miles south of Marseilles. The Telescaphe consists of four watertight cabins, each seating six passengers, which are suspended from two cables. They will travel 1,600 feet at about 150 feet a minute, for a 10-minute ride each way.
However, the view isn't going to be anything to write home about. The Mediterranean is blue and limpid enough in Callelongue Cove, but the sea floor is rather dull. For example, there is no coral, because the water is too cold. Furthermore, the area is fished out, so the passengers are unlikely to get a look at much wildlife.
Couttet readily admits that there are more beautiful spots where Telescaphes might be built, which is why he has also taken out patents in, among other countries, the U.S., Japan and Israel. How many of these spots would be beautiful once he had run his cable-car lines through is another matter.
A hunter named J. F. Jones was calling a turkey from a blind near McComb, Miss, when a growling fox suddenly leaped on his back. Jones got the fox off, shot him and sent the head to Jackson for a rabies examination, which proved negative. "I didn't think there was anything wrong with the fox," said Jones. "He simply thought I was a turkey."
When is it cruel to be kind? Consider Hamdan, perhaps the finest Arab stallion ever bred in Egypt, for whom King Farouk once turned down an offer of $122,100. But, like his late master, Hamdan fell on bad times, and this past October, a skin-and-bones wreck, he was sold to the Cairo zoo as lion food for $1.25. Then, at the last minute, he was saved by a group of Americans residing in Cairo (SI, Nov. 21, 1966).
Hamdan, which means the thankful, was subsequently acquired by Douglas B. Marshall, a Texas breeder, who in recent years has bought 30 Arab horses in Egypt. It was Marshall's intention to return Hamdan to the El Zahraa stud, where he was foaled, to live the rest of his days and sire more of his kind. And there he is, a venerable 31, surrounded by his get, including a 21-year-old son, Antar, and seven other horses of middle age. Hamdan has gained a good deal of weight and his silvery tail and mane, which were heartlessly clipped for fly whisks while he was stabled in the zoo, have grown four inches.
Fade out for a happy ending? Uh-uh. Since Marshall is a good customer, the Egyptians are themselves supporting Hamdan. But, as the stud's chief veterinarian, Dr. Mohammed El Marsafi, says: "At 31 Hamdan is the equivalent of a 124-year-old man, so his breeding potential is doubtful. He should rest, and the way to make him rest is to shoot him. We have had six generations of this great horse. Once priceless, he is now useless from a scientific point of view."
Worse, Hamdan is full of cancer, but the Egyptians, "out of respect for American sentimentalism," are giving him the best medical care.
Horse people can be mawkish or realistic about the animals they love. The rescue of Hamdan was well-intended, but many owners of hunters, who have considered their horses lifelong friends, face up to facts. When a hunter, even if retired to pasture, is sore and hurting, he is put down (a euphemism for a humane killing) and, often, fed to the hounds. Perhaps old Hamdan should have been thrown to the lions after all.
THEY SAID IT
•Joe Azcue, Cleveland catcher, upon receiving the Golden Tomahawk award for being the Indians' most underrated player in 1966: "Thank you. The only thing I can say is that I'm still underrated."
•Rod Gilbert, Ranger right wing, asked whether hockey fights are faked: "If they were faked, you would see me in more of them."