As a lifelong sports fan who appreciates excellent writing, I must tell you that Mark Kram's article "Lawdy, Lawdy, He's Great" (Oct. 13) on the Ali-Frazier fight is the finest piece of sports journalism I have ever read. I had my doubts about professional boxing's legitimacy, but from the descriptions and the atmosphere re-created and interpreted by Kram, I feel that this fight was more than just a morality play. It is clear that something profound and intensely human went on in the Philippines that day. With the eyes of the world upon them, two men were forced to reach inside themselves while teetering on the brink of oblivion. Call it courage, stamina, adrenaline or dedication, both had it. Besides bringing out the worst in the human psyche, there are times when boxing brings out the best.
New Haven, Conn.
It is obvious that the battle in Manila between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali could only have been done justice by searing realism, unbearable drama and a degree of creativity rarely seen in sports journalism. Mark Kram rose to the occasion with every bit as much brilliance as Frazier and Ali did.
Mark Kram's article is what SPORTS ILLUSTRATED is all about, what sports writing is all about—no, what writing is all about. He got inside both fighters and showed them as human beings rather than mere sports figures. Good writing can convey feelings and nuances better than film. This was better than film.
I did not see the fight, but I have read about the fierceness that pervaded each round. Neil Leifer's photographs showed the anguish of each fighter, especially of Joe Frazier.
Massapequa Park, N.Y.
October 27, 1975
How ironic! After all of his devastating victories and his years of solid, quiet virtue, it took Joe Frazier's defeat to teach Muhammad Ali and the rest of the world just how great a fighter and how decent a man Frazier is. I hope that he will finally be accorded the respect that has inexplicably eluded him for so long.
The big winners were boxing and sport. There were no losers.
I attended the U.S. Grand Prix this fall as I have attended it every fall for nine years. Ferrari has always been one of my favorite teams, but in one afternoon that changed. I thought the blocking tactics employed by Ferrari's Clay Regazzoni were very unsportsmanlike and also very amateurish. Although his tactics were legal to a certain extent, when the blue flag was shown Regazzoni should have moved over. A potentially exciting race for the 100,000-plus fans was ruined. I think the whole Ferrari team, including Niki Lauda, who I am sure could win almost any race without such tactics, should have been disqualified. All in all, the fans who paid to see the professionals, and supposedly the gentlemen of motor sports were cheated.
Robert F. Jones' article on the U.S. Grand Prix was exceptionally good. Although popular in Europe and South America, Formula I racing exists in relative obscurity here in America. Consequently, it generally does not receive more than a few lines of coverage.
As to the race itself, the blocking tactics employed by the Ferrari team were not new by any means. Jack Brabham, a three-time world champion, occasionally made use of his infinitely extensible wheels. Brabham was a fine driver, but he was never excused for such actions; nor should Clay Regazzoni be excused. He effectively stifled Emerson Fittipaldi's chance for a win. Even though Regazzoni was eventually disqualified, that was a very small price to pay for his teammate's victory. Ferrari ended what would have been a brilliant season on a very unsportsmanlike note.
The notorious SI cover jinx has been holding up pretty well in recent weeks. Following your Aug. 25 "Dreams of Glory in Green Bay" cover, the Packers went 0-4. "No. 1" Oklahoma (Sept. 8) soon tell to No. 2. After the Steelers' Mean Joe Greene appeared (Sept. 22), Pittsburgh lost to Buffalo. Rick Slager of Notre Dame graced the Sept. 29 cover and the Irish lost to Michigan State. And on Oct. 6 "Four [world championships] in a Row?" was your question about the Oakland A's, and three playoff losses in a row was fie answer. One favor. Don't put any Chicago teams on the cover, O.K.?
I didn't believe it until I saw Reggie Jackson on the cover and then the A's in the playoff obituaries.
The cover should have pictured the Red Sox and read "Three in a Row."
I'm sure by now you've received a number of letters claiming your cover jinx has worked again. I view such claims as pure balderdash. The Red Sox were clearly the better team in the playoffs. But, please, don't let me find the Red Sox on the cover.
ROBERT A. SORENSEN
I hope that Ron Fimrite is enjoying a nicely seasoned portion of crow.
CHIMING IN FOR BELL
The Heisman Trophy is purportedly given to that player who has the finest performance of the year in college football. That being the case, past performance and class standing should be ignored in naming the recipient. Archie Griffin and Joe Washington have been and still are outstanding athletes, but, by the very definition of the award, the 1975 Heisman Trophy should go to Ricky Bell of USC.
MICHAEL G. HUTSKO
Seal Beach, Calif.
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME & LIFE Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.