I agree with Pat Putnam's high estimation of Larry Holmes's boxing skills (Holmes Had a Spoonful, May 30). However, I am puzzled by his relegation of Holmes to a rank below that of Rocky Marciano and Sonny Liston. If there is a more overrated figure in boxing annals than Marciano, his name escapes me. Marciano's major victories—over Joe Louis, Jersey Joe Walcott and Ezzard Charles—came when his opponents were past their prime. Archie Moore, who at the time of his title bout with Marciano was at least 38 and an overblown light heavyweight to boot, actually dropped Rocky. Indeed, it seems unlikely that Marciano, with his singular lack of reach and height—no heavyweight champ since Tommy Burns has been shorter—would have been able to get past Holmes's pistonlike jab. This is not to mention the fits Holmes's dazzling combinations and superb footwork would have given him, or the fact that Marciano would not have been able to combat Holmes's most undervalued asset—his ring generalship. Moreover, Marciano fought in an era—the 1950s—that many of the sport's pundits regard as boxing's dark age.
Liston, on the other hand, was a heavyweight of no mean consequence, but he lacked the quickness and guile to be effective against a fighter of Holmes's transcendent abilities. One need only point to the artful surgery performed on him by a young Muhammad Ali, a boxer whose style and execution resembled the current champion's, to get an idea of the difficulties Liston would have faced in a bout with Holmes.
Pat Putnam says, "Holmes falls short of only Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Sonny Liston and Rocky Marciano." Then he states that "all the rest" would have come up short, "some for no other reason than their antiquated styles."
I have a high regard for Holmes's boxing ability and power, but I can only assume that Putnam is too young to have ever watched Jack Dempsey, who in his prime would have demolished Ali. Marciano was an enigma. Liston was overrated, as was Ali. Louis was truly great. But if Putnam thinks that the styles of Gene Tunney, Harry Wills and Jack Johnson would have been no "match for the science of Holmes," I regret that I will never be able to take his bets.
JOHN T. MORGAN
West Hyannisport, Mass.
June 12, 1983
The '30s and '40s were the decades when boxing attained its highest levels, so the term "antiquated" can hardly be applied to men such as Jersey Joe Walcott, Ezzard Charles and Max Schmeling, all of whom I feel would have defeated a comparatively inexperienced Holmes. It can also be argued that the very lack of style of a man such as the frenzied, powerful Jack Dempsey would have proved too much for a rather methodical Holmes.
In comparing eras, all factors must be considered: How, for example, might Holmes have fared over 25 rounds (Jim Jeffries vs. Tom Sharkey, 1899) or 61 (Jim Corbett vs. Peter Jackson, 1891)?
Larry Holmes the fifth-best heavyweight of all time? What a joke! I realize it's not Holmes's fault that the heavyweight division hasn't been all that good for a few years, but in almost any other era there is no way he would have held the title.
San Rafael, Calif.
Thank you! Thank you! The article Is This a Holy Place? (May 30) by Bil Gilbert concerning Mono Lake was an eloquent example of how environmental issues should be addressed. As a student in the School of Natural Resources at Ohio State, I am continually enlightened by your thought-provoking pieces on environmental matters.
ELAINE E. STADLER
North Royalton, Ohio
I had the opportunity to work with Duane Georgeson and other Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials last year as a Coro Foundation Fellow. Although I do not entirely agree with DWP's positions on the Mono Lake issue, I am in full agreement with the department's stance that unless an equal amount of comparably priced water is made available to Los Angeles to replace the water from Mono, no satisfactory end to this controversy can be reached.
No political decision should be made in a vacuum; any actions regarding Mono Lake could seriously affect the entire water supply of Southern California. If DWP's supply is cut, the City of Los Angeles will need to obtain water from some other system to replace whatever is lost. A possible source would be the Southern California Metropolitan Water District, which supplies most of the rest of Southern California. Unfortunately, MWD does not have water to spare. As I understand the doctrine of public trust, under which this case will be decided, the effects on the rest of Southern California's population in the event that DWP's water supply is cut should be taken into consideration.
Just as DWP should recognize that Mono Lake must survive in some form hospitable to the life that it has fostered during the past million years, the Mono Lake Committee should recognize the far-reaching consequences of its position on all of Southern California, not just on the citizens of L.A.
LAWRENCE J. GOLDZBAND
Your article concerning Mono Lake was outstanding. Bil Gilbert did an excellent job, presenting both sides of the conflict.
However, the photograph of the bird identified as a bluebird appears to be of a violet-green swallow. While depletion of Mono Lake may not be as detrimental to this species as to grebes and gulls, decline in violet-green swallows might well occur. The shrinking of the lake would probably decrease the insect population on which the swallows feed.
Clearly, the stakes in this trade-off situation are high: the loss of up to 17% of DWP's water supply vs. the loss of natural resources that will be difficult or impossible to replace.
Roses are red,
SI's face should be too;
That's a swallow, violet-green—
Not a oiseau bleu.
The recent article by Franz Lidz on hardball squash champion Mark Talbott ("Born at E.T.'s Knee," May 16) was most refreshing and very descriptive of an athlete who is worth taking some notice of. I saw him play against Sharif Khan here in Rochester last fall and was very impressed.
After watching John McEnroe throw "fits" on the tennis court, it was nice to see Talbott contain himself on the squash court. It is also good to know that family and roots play an important part in Talbott's life and that, at the same time, a free spirit balances him out. Perhaps the flower children of the '60s did leave a legacy.
KAREN D. MACDONALD
Curry Kirkpatrick's excellent article on WCT tennis (And Suddenly He's a Man of Clay, May 16) has caused a great debate between a counselor and a tennis coach at Superior (Wis.) Senior High. The tennis coach claims that John McEnroe's clinching shot in a tiebreaker against Ivan Lendl in the WTC Finals in Dallas was legal even though it curled between the net post and the net and then into the open court. The counselor agrees with SI that the shot wasn't legit. Who's right? The wager is meager but the bragging rights would be immense.
TOM LOCKEN (counselor)
MIKE PAHLEN (coach)
•The counselor is correct; the shot was illegal. When a singles net is used, as it was in Dallas, says Colonel Nick Powel, chairman of the USTA's rules committee, the net is supposed to be flush with the net posts, which it was not during the McEnroe-Lendl match in question. Thus a shot like McEnroe's that goes between the post and the net occurs so rarely, Powel adds, that the umpire probably assumed the ball had gone around the outside of the post—a legal shot. Had a doubles net been in use, however, such a shot would have been legal. In that case net sticks would have marked the boundaries of a singles net, and any ball that passed between the singles stick and the post would have been treated as though it had gone around the post.—ED.
BEWARE THE HEAT
I commend Kenny Moore on his VIEWPOINT (May 23) on the dangers of heatstroke. It is a fine piece of responsible journalism and should cause all athletes to stop and ponder the point Moore made.
If endurance triathletes and distance runners have learned anything at all, it is that their bodies need to be regulated and monitored during intense training and competition, especially in the heat. Just think: If a runner with the highly trained capabilities of a Moore can run into serious trouble, how much additional care should the rest of us take when competing? There is always a tomorrow to try again. I hope, with the hot weather approaching, that your readers heed some very good advice.
Staten Island, N.Y.
In his recent column reviewing the television coverage of this past season's NBA playoffs (TV/RADIO, May 16), William Taaffe described ESPN's Pepsi-Cola-sponsored Hotshot halftime feature as insipid, pubescent and boring. As the national runner-up in the 1980 Hotshot competition, I feel qualified to speak on behalf of its participants. The kids involved in this program work incredibly hard for a chance at this kind of television exposure, not to mention the opportunity to travel to NBA cities. The dedication this program inspires deserves acclaim, not unfair criticism. These kids may well be the ones we pay to see in the future.
Furthermore, I am surprised at SI. To criticize a professional is one thing, but to attack a program that offers young people a chance of a lifetime is entirely wrong.
Letters should include the name, address and home telephone number of the writer and be addressed to The Editor, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, N.Y. 10020.