The dinner jacket is not often seen at prizefights in this country, and that is rather strange, because modern boxing's ancient home is England, where the black tie is required dress when the Corinthians of London's National Sporting Club dine at the famous Cafe Royal and then adjourn, well stuffed in a well-bred way, to the pinkish Louis XVI Suite for postprandial boxing and brandy.
To be sure, Archie Moore stopped James J. Parker a couple of years ago before a gathering that included some black ties. But that was in Toronto, Canada, and the black ties were the inspiration of Doc Kearns, whose voguishness was a promotional gimmick.
A similarly attired group saw Chico Vejar defeat Pat Manzi at Atlantic City's 500 Club last year. At the time no one believed anything substantial would come of it because the fighters seemed to spend part of every round laughing themselves sick at the customers, but it may have been the start of a trend which we are only now beginning to see darkly, as through a glass of tawny port.
A televised Wednesday nighter (June 11) is to go on before a black tie audience on the terrace of Washington's imposing Shoreham Hotel, where a ring will be pitched amid boxed petunias, philodendrons, geraniums, pansies and potted umbrella trees. If it rains, the fight—between Joey Giardello and Franz Szuzina—will move to the main ballroom. Among the audience will be some, like French Ambassador and Mme. Alphand and Senator Margaret Chase Smith, who will be seeing their first fight. It would be hard to find a subscriber to The Ring in the list of acceptances: the Swedish Ambassador and Mme. Boheman, the Peruvian Ambassador and Mme. Berckemeyer, Mr. and Mrs. Morris Cafritz, Mrs. Nicholas (Teddy Roosevelt's daughter, Alice L.) Longworth. Great Britain's ambassador, Sir Harold Caccia, will attend but Lady Caccia probably won't. Only Mrs. Longworth would rate as a boxing enthusiast. In recent years she has often hied down to the small dumpy Capital Arena to see the fights. She is said to get her ring dope from her chauffeur.
Like the Corinthians of London, the guests will start tipping cocktails at 7:30 on the sweeping lawn beside the hotel's garden pool, then move to tables for 10 on the terrace and a $25-a-plate dinner (mixed grill).
The fight is, of course, for charity—proceeds going to Washington's chapter of the Big Brothers, which interests itself in wayward and orphaned boys. The International Boxing Club and Promoter Goldie Ahearn are sacrificing their cuts and the TV sponsors are paying the fighters.
TUXEDO OR TRUNKS
The tough and accomplished Giardello, ranked No. 2 as a middleweight, just behind Carmen Basilio, has already beaten Szuzina twice. Szuzina, a powerful, stubborn, forward-moving brawler, might well look more stylish in dinner jacket than he does in black trunks. Giardello, twice conqueror of another brawler, Rory Calhoun, does extremely well against such types and probably is looking forward to challenging Brawler Gene Fullmer for the title if Sugar Ray Robinson retires and Carmen Basilio moves back to the welters.
On Friday the 13th of the same week Heavyweight Harold Carter returns to the ring after a sojourn in the Army. Carter has not fought since January 1957. He will oppose Willi Besmanoff at Madison Square Garden's TV studio, a moderately rugged assignment after such a long layoff.
Adjusting the knot in an old four-in-hand, one gets the well-tailored feeling that the parlay of Giardello and Carter is as correct as striped pants at a wedding.