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Original Issue


Journal American

There is a slim chance the ringside announcer of the Channel 4 fight between Vince Martinez and Chico Varona may have been watching some other fightcast. Certainly the fight he called out of deep allegiance to the International Boxing Club, James D. Norris, president, was not the one we viewed via NBC.

Jimmy Powers indulged in sly insults at the prowess, fitness and other qualities of Vince Martinez, who curiously, no doubt, has been a rugged individualist in the face of the fistic monopoly of managers and promoters. Powers rapped virtually everything concerning Martinez which in our plain sight was happening in precisely the opposite fashion on NBC-TV.

Martinez was "rusty," Powers proclaimed, while Martinez plainly was dancing with polished precision through his usual wispy and elusive techniques and superior style. He even announced Martinez was a more successful boxer under the manager Martinez fired with the full blessing of the New York Boxing Commission.

Powers deprecated a clean and clear knockdown in the early rounds by explaining at painful length it was the result of Martinez' counterpunching, hinting Martinez was running away all the time, all but indicating cowardice instead of the colorfully clever manner in which Martinez really was winning his fight.

Powers even laid a little of the blame at the feet, or hands, or judgment of Referee Mark Conn, who was, he said, breaking clinches "too swiftly" to Martinez' advantage.

When Referee Conn warned Varona twice for foul punches, Powers indicated instead it was Martinez' fault, transparently explaining some other tactic entirely had caused the low blows.

He suggested Varona was "piling up points" when he was doing nothing of the sort; while in fact Martinez was.

He was regretful about the "rust" on Martinez stemming from inaction since last December, without explaining what every sports page reader knows was a simple educational program aimed at bringing Martinez to heel and accept the unwritten regulations of the boxing managers' "guilt," or guild.

As a lesson in disservice to us viewers, it may come in handy; we suspect the announcer's easily analyzed fight-club-slanted distortions will be clobbered by every sports columnist who witnessed the almost ludicrous oral exhibition.

Television now could stand entirely neutral ringside boxing experts of Tommy Loughran's superior sort; Tommy, a stubbornly literal as well as literate man, simply would have explained last night what was emphasized masterfully in the voting of judges and referee—that Martinez clearly and by a wide margin had outclassed, outboxed and outpunched Varona.


We could use blow-by-blow experts whose loyalty is to the public and the simple truth so patently plain on millions of TV screens. Both eyes on the fight instead of one on Jim Norris would help.

We are not in any tiny fashion knocking sportscasters who are "rooters," as most baseball play-by-playboys are. Mel Allen is a frankly furious Yankee rooter and should be; it's fun for a Yankee fan to enthuse along with Mel or suffer with him through defeat or tight squeezes. Russ Hodges likewise. Red Barber, most literate and calmly discursive voice in radio-TV sports reporting, has had his spasms of delighted home-team observation with no one the worse for ethical wear. This is not what we deplore herein.

There are enough weighted panel shows on TV without such evasive exhibitions creeping into the field of sports, where we have a clear and simple argument to the contrary whenever someone says what has happened really hasn't; what is good, isn't; or what is good for IBC is best for Vince Martinez.