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Original Issue


In all my years of reading your magazine I have never been so thoroughly disgusted with any article as I was with Mark Kram's coverage of the Ali-Frazier rematch (Crafty Win for Muhammad, Feb. 4). Boxing fans had waited too long for the fight to be asked to read analogies. We are not interested in tree limbs weighted with Spanish moss. What we want to know is why arms go limp. Is it the pain of blocking too many hooks? Is it the aching that comes from throwing too many punches too soon? We want facts, not French phrases. We want straight, accurate reporting, not existentialist prose concerning such things as having and not having picks and shovels.

Nowhere in the article was there any mention of who did what to whom and when. Not one sentence was to be found about the hooks that had Ali in trouble or about why Frazier's face was puffy in the end. Nor was there anything on the fight strategy. On top of all this, five paragraphs were devoted to a prefight encounter that had been reported throughout the country four days before the fight.

The article read like a short story to be found in The New Yorker rather than a report in a magazine that ostensibly functions as a purveyor of sports news.

Until I read Mark Kram I thought the late A. J. Liebling was the best boxing writer. Kram's perception and insight, his analogies and his knowledge of the game, its people and its atmosphere are unsurpassed in boxing writing today. He credits fistic fans with an esthetic interest as well as with a knowledge of history, literature and psychology. At least I hope Kram is writing for the fight fan.
Portland, Ore.

I realize I am challenging Mark Kram's judgment, but compared to numerous other sources and reports, his article conveyed an attitude that was very unfair to Joe Frazier. The fight was close. The boxer was given the decision over the fighter. Or maybe the judges were impressed that this match was really a celebrity ball and Ali was the only one who danced.

Frazier has not cried over the decision, as Ali did after the first fight. And the only person who says, "George who?" is Ali. I woner why. Write about that someday, Mr. Kram.
Harrisburg, Pa.

I always have thought SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was pro-Ali, but this article takes the cake. One statement really caught my attention: "If the fight ever seemed close, it was only because of Frazier's incessant pursuit." At no point in the fight was Ali clearly assured of victory. At the end of the eighth round almost everyone in the Garden knew that Joe Frazier had taken control. Before the start of the ninth round Frazier got up off his stool and did his own version of the Ali Shuffle, then motioned across the ring to Ali as if to say, "Come on, let's slug it out!" Ali sat in his corner. Perhaps he knew that if he was going to get knocked out, it would be right then and there. He started to slug it out with Frazier—for about 15 seconds—then danced away.

You describe Frazier as being frustrated. Well, if you call taking Ali's best shots and then laughing in his face frustrating, then maybe that is what was wrong with Joe. The way I scored it, the fight should have been a draw, but at any rate I am sure that Frazier will not retire and Ali will not beat George Foreman.
Shamokin, Pa.

As a member of the white working class, I must protest being called Muhammad Ali's "oldest enemy." As a kid I loved Ali for his style, his mouth and his standing up to the Government. I haven't changed my mind just because I am working for a living. I still hang on his words and draw fire and strength from him. Muhammad Ali is the champ—past, present and always.
South Bound Brook, N.J.

Congratulations to Larry Keith on his fine article (The End of a Week that Never Was, Feb. 4). The Bruins showed that they are the best team as they demolished Notre Dame in Pauley Pavilion.
Fontana, Calif.

That surely was a pitiful ending to a great article on a fantastic basketball team, namely, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame. In closing with that distorted quote of the Bible on a UCLA banner—"The Lord Giveth but the Bruins Taketh Away"—you failed to note that the Scripture also says, "He who exalts himself shall be humbled, and he who humbles himself shall be exalted." The meek shall inherit the earth come time for the NCAA finals.
Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

I thoroughly enjoyed the diary of Notre Dame's week, and I was enlightened by some of Larry Keith's comments on the Notre Dame practice sessions and the coaching techniques used by Digger Phelps. At the time I read the article I was visiting my brother, a starting guard on the Vassar Pink Panther basketball team. Spurred by your article, I attended one of the Panthers' practice sessions, and I was amazed to see that it was run with all the seriousness of a major college team. As I was leaving at the end of the practice, I turned to take one last look and saw all the players gathered around their coach. I heard him yell, "Who's No. 1?" The players yelled back in unison, "Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Notre Dame." Then, smiling, they headed for the showers. (They realize that Uclans speak louder than words.)
Hamilton, N.Y.

Thank you for that beautiful essay by Annie Dillard (Footfalls in a Blue Ridge Winter, Feb. 4). With sports so often thought of in violent terms, I was enthralled by the care shown a "silly-looking coot" in a Virginia marshland. I have not read anywhere recently such a fine tribute to the world of nature. May Ms. Dillard's walks be recorded again in SI.
Piedmont Presbyterian Church
Burlington, N.C.

Although SI does not always give due recognition to the athletes of Virginia, it is nice to see that you appreciate our writers. The excerpt from Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek should appeal to all sports enthusiasts.
Richmond, Va.

Congratulations on recognizing the resurgent Detroit Pistons (Great Scott, He Did Some Ring Job!, Feb. 4) and in particular Bob Lanier, who is now asserting himself as one of the best all-round centers in basketball.

However, I must make one correction regarding the knee injury that ended Lanier's college career in the 1970 NCAA Eastern Regional final. During that 97-74 St. Bonaventure rout of Villanova, Lanier did not fall over Villanova's Chris Ford; rather, he was "accidentally buckled from behind" by Ford, who had "tripped going for a rebound" (SI, March 23, 1970).

To this viewer, who will never forget the play, it looked like a perfectly thrown football clip. Whatever the cause, I will never forgive Ford—now Lanier's teammate—for depriving Lanier of a chance to dispose of Jacksonville in the semifinals and challenge UCLA for the 1970 NCAA title. Hopefully, Lanier will soon lead Detroit to the NBA championship.
North Tonawanda, N.Y.

Thanks for giving some overdue recognition to the hottest team in the NBA. Bob Lanier is definitely this year's MVP, but the Pistons can win without the big man, too. On Feb. 1, after Lanier had been charged with two technicals and put out of the game, the Piston defense held off the explosive New York Knicks and Detroit defeated the champions 96-91.

Dave Bing is the floor leader, all right, but how about some of the other players? George Trapp is coming into his own, and John Mengelt, Chris Ford, Don Adams and Curtis Rowe are among the finest players in the league.
Livonia, Mich.

I take offense at the statement that Detroit's Ray Scott is a cinch for Coach of the Year honors. Jack Ramsay of the Buffalo Braves has turned a very poor NBA club into one of the most exciting teams in basketball. Ramsay has a strong relationship with his players, is a teacher of teamwork and has showmanship on the bench.
Orchard Park, N.Y.

Peter Carry's remark that Ray Scott is a cinch for Coach of the Year would seem a bit premature, to say the least. Taking nothing away from the superb job Scott has done with the Pistons, I see no man who deserves the honor more than the Philadelphia '76ers' Gene Shue.
Contributing Editor Action

Your articles have always been interesting and informative. But when you praise a team of undertalented Neanderthals like the Philadelphia Flyers (The Hound and the Hammer, Jan. 28), I begin to wonder what will happen when it comes time to renew my subscription. The Flyers have disgraced the game. Sure, fighting is a part of hockey, as it is a part of most other contact sports. But when fighting is your entire game plan, you are no longer playing hockey, and you no longer deserve the privilege of being called a professional hockey team.

Mark Mulvoy centered his article around Bob Kelly and Dave Schultz, who not only have very limited talents but do not seem to realize that they do their team no good in the penalty box. If you want to do articles on dynamic, sportsmanlike hockey teams, do them on the Boston Bruins or the Montreal Canadiens, who lead in goals scored instead of penalty minutes and whose action consists of good clean hockey rather than fights.
New Bedford, Mass.

How can Mark Mulvoy say that Bob Kelly and Dave Schultz "make the old big bad Bruins seem like a bunch of Little Lord Fauntleroys"? Boston's Wayne Cashman, Ken Hodge, Derek Sanderson, Darryl Edestrand and Terry O'Reilly could make the so-called Broad Street Bullies look like a bunch of pussycats.
Dorchester, Mass.

In regard to your article on the most boisterous of the Broad Street Bullies, one slight correction is in order: the Bob Kelly is known as Battleship and, together with Steve (Destroyer) Durbano, he gives the Pittsburgh Penguins one of the better gladiatorial tandems on ice.
Donora, Pa.

The article was interesting but incomplete. Another Flyer defenseman, Andre (Moose) Dupont, plays a tough, hard-hitting game like Kelly and Schultz, and it was no surprise that Philadelphia traded with St. Louis for Dupont last year. He led the Central Hockey League in total penalty minutes a few seasons ago and at the same time was selected as one of the league's MVPs. Credit goes to Coach Fred Shero and all the Flyers for this season's success, but remember that when the Hound and the Hammer are on the bench for a shift, NHL opponents still have to put up with the Moose.
Pease AFB, N.H.

Just to set the record and Ed Marinaro straight ("They Said It," SCORECARD, Jan. 28), John Cappelletti was not the first Italian to win the Heisman Trophy. There were Angelo Bertelli in 1943, Alan Ameche in 1954 and Joe Bellino in 1960.
Flushing, N.Y.

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