One would expect that promoter Don King, whose so-called U.S. Boxing Championships got thrown off ABC last year as the result of a scandal involving rigged rankings and phony fight records, would be more careful with his cards. But that wasn't the case with a preliminary bout on the recent Las Vegas card King promoted featuring his WBC heavyweight champ, Larry Holmes, against Alfredo Evangelista. King's inattention to detail is opening a whole new can of worms.
The prelim fight, if fight it can be called, was between Scott LeDoux, a possible challenger for Holmes' WBC title, and an overblown middleweight named James Brown, who was knocked out in two. One trouble is that Brown's real name is James Brannon, and his record as a fighter by whatever name is dismal. Brown/Brannon's manager, Don White of Spartanburg, S.C., only makes the matter murkier by saying, "James Brannon four or five years ago was campaigning as a middleweight, then he growed into a heavyweight. James Brown is his ring name, and James Brannon is his real name. When we started over as a heavyweight, we just wiped that slate [Brown's and/or Brannon's record] clean. He has never fought under any name except James Brannon. What they put on posters, I don't know."
White claims that Brown/Brannon's record as a middleweight really is of no interest to promoters, but "he probably won about 10 and lost about 10." Brown/Brannon's record as a heavyweight, White claims, is nine wins and two defeats. Whatever the figures, the wins are inflated, according to knowledgeable boxing men. Indeed, a pal of White's reports that before the LeDoux fight, White said about Brown/Brannon, "He's never won a fight, but he almost won one." The pal also says that White remarked he was simply supplying "a body for LeDoux."
There's more. The Brown/Brannon bout is part of a buildup LeDoux is getting. The previous month LeDoux knocked out a stiff named Sylvester Wilder, who was reported to have lost his last 26 straight. Even though the fight, which was held in Winnipeg, lasted only two rounds, the local promoter, Tom (Tex) Burns, had already snuck out the back door in embarrassment. Hal Sigurdson of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote, "Wilder's sole aim was to go into the tank as quickly as possible."
Only two weeks before Winnipeg, LeDoux drew with Bill Sharkey, who isn't highly regarded. Even so, the WBC, in its next rankings, rated LeDoux 10th among world heavyweights, one place ahead of Duane Bobick, a non-King fighter who has beaten LeDoux twice.
The Brown/Brannon bout with LeDoux has also prompted talk in boxing circles about other King-connected heavyweights who are unusually esteemed by the WBC. Jimmy Young is ranked second, even though he hasn't won since September 1977, and has lost twice since then. The mind boggles at where the WBC would rank Young had he won a fight this year.
And then there is Lucien Rodriguez, the heavyweight champion of France, who is ranked seventh by the WBC, even though his main claim to fame is that he was stopped twice by Evangelista. Rodriguez was supposed to be an opponent for Ken Norton on the Holmes-Evangelista card, but ABC looked at his record and vetoed the idea. At the last minute ABC also decided not to tape the LeDoux-Brown fight because the network realized that Brown, who was represented by Don King Productions as having a 9-2 record, was really Brannon and "had no career wins."
All that money from Star Wars is helping to burn a hole in the pocket of 20th Century-Fox. Last year Fox bought the Aspen Skiing Corp., and now the film company, which has $136 million in cash on hand, has a "definitive agreement" to acquire the Pebble Beach Corp. for $72 million. Among other holdings Pebble Beach owns two of the three courses used in the Bing Crosby Pro-Am.
Fox is seeking to acquire even more sporting properties, or, as a spokesman puts it, "We are looking for other destination resort type companies."
If soccer is ever to fulfill the destiny devotees in this country have staked out for the sport, it is going to have to stop hacking around. For example, Carleton College recently won the Midwestern Conference championship by defeating Knox College 3-2 after four 15-minute and five 5-minute overtime periods.
Then there are the girls' teams at Lake Placid High School and Peru Central School in upstate New York. During sectional play at Willsboro, N.Y., the Lake Placid Blue Bombers and the Indians battled for 72 minutes and reached a 0-0 impasse. Eleven extra periods were then played without a goal being scored. With darkness setting in, the two sides decided to wipe the slate clean and start fresh the next day with a new game.
Just to be on the safe side, regulation play began at noon. At the end of 72 minutes, the score was tied at 2-2. And so on. And so forth. For 13 more extra periods the two sides went at it, until finally, in the 14th overtime, Lake Placid senior Forward Meri-Jo Borzilleri scored the deciding goal. In fact, Meri-Jo scored all three of her team's goals in a game that lasted 269 minutes, the equivalent of four regulation games. The next day, exhausted Lake Placid lost the sectional championship to Willsboro High, 6-1.
Now let's go to South Carolina for the state independent school soccer championship. Sea Pines Academy and College Prep of Charleston battled for 11 overtime periods until Brian Moersch scored to give Sea Pines a 2-1 victory. The co-coach of Sea Pines is Roger Cawley, husband of Evonne Goolagong. She plays tennis, right? Which brings to mind Jimmy Van Alen, the master tinkerer who devised sudden death for tennis. Jimmy, put your feverishly inventive mind to work. Soccer needs you.
AGAINST THE SPREAD
In the AFC, the best team to bet on is the Bills, while in the NFC it's the Bucs, Saints and Eagles. This won-lost list shows how NFL teams have fared against the point spread through the first 11 games of this season.
What the spread standings clearly show is that the Bills, 3 and 8 in the regular standings, are far better than bettors think and that the Cowboys, 7 and 4 in the regular standings, have been overrated. Of course, these opinions have probably changed by now. Even a sucker learns after a while.
The stock market may be down, but the market for sporting collectibles, fueled by inflation, the declining dollar and a growing hunger for the past, is booming. Collectors and dealers are snapping up rare books, prints, decoys, shotguns and fly rods as though they were wheeling in pork-belly futures. A sampling of the market:
Books. "Prices have gone up 200% or 300% in some trade Derrydale Press books, even higher in the deluxe editions," reports Colonel Henry A. Siegel of the Anglers' and Shooters' Bookshelf in Goshen, Conn. "The deluxe edition of Phair's Atlantic Salmon Fishing, one of 40, sold for $800 six or seven years ago. Now it's over $4,000. More people are beginning to appreciate quality books as a hedge against the falling dollar. The British have been doing this for a much longer time because they had monetary problems before we did."
Guns. Jay Hansen of Hansen & Company in Southport, Conn., collecting editor for Gun World, says, "There has been a solid increase every year for the last 10 years, and I see no slacking off whatsoever. A Holland and Holland royal grade side by side, full detachable side-locks, 12-gauge, 26-inch barrels, pre-World War II, basically new condition, fetches about $8,000 here or abroad, and that's double what it was five years ago.
"A very diversified group of people are doing the buying now, and many are not greatly interested in firearms per se but in marketable commodities. There are a lot more people who collect guns than you would think, but they don't like it known. In my town of 60,000, I know at least a dozen people who have 100 to 300 guns in their collection. A lot of show business people collect guns, primarily as an investment, but they don't want to talk about it. One who does talk a bit is Buddy Hackett, who collects Colts. Another is Mel Tormè."
Rods. "Within the past year, there has been a new groundswell of activity in the highest quality antique rods," says Martin Keane, a dealer in Bridgewater. Conn. "Last year, Bangor Leonard fly rods, made before 1881, sold for $800 to $1,200 each in normal condition. Now they're going for $1,200 to $2,400."
In the last year contemporary classic rods, such as those made by the late Everett Garrison, have moved from the $700 to $1,000 range, a bargain, as far as Keane is concerned. "In the entire collectible field—furniture, violins, watches, coins, stamps—a classic fishing rod is the only single commodity that you can buy for $1,000 and have the best in the world."
A RUN FOR YOUR MONEY
A series of strange little ads appeared in New York newspapers last week for something called "Rent-A-Jogger." For only $1.95, the ad promised, "Rent me and I will jog for you at least one mile each day (weather permitting) for the next year." Moreover, a customer gets a certificate suitable for framing, "attesting to the world that your jogger is securing for you the benefits of a healthful glow, extraordinary stamina, exciting muscle tone and a power-filled sense of total well-being."
Rent-A-Jogger is the idea of Harry Buonocore, a 45-year-old stockbroker from Queens, who is also the guy who runs for you. Believe it or not, within several days after the ads appeared, 322 people had sent in the $1.95 fee, which more than paid for the ads. Buonocore isn't going to run 322 miles a day. He's going to keep running his mile a day, and say he's done it just for you. And why would anyone pay him $1.95? Says Buonocore, "Bill Rodgers would cost a lot more."
The Steve Cauthen of Argentina is a girl. Her name is Marina Lezcano, and she stands 4'11" and weighs 97 pounds. This season she rode Telescopio, a good but not a great horse, to victory in all four of Argentina's classics, an unprecedented feat. She capped the Quadruple Crown by winning the Carlos Pellegrini Gran Prix in Buenos Aires by 18 lengths.
Now 21, Marina grew up with a love of animals; at one time she had 62 dogs and 30 cats. She was at first barred from the jockey School of Apprentices because of a "no females" rule. Citing the case of a Brazilian girl who rode, she finally was accepted in 1974 and won her first race that year, an event for jockettas, or girl jockeys, only. The next year she began competing with male jockeys. Juan Bianchi, the trainer of Telescopio, says he chose Marina because "She has a hand of silk, and some horses need the soft handling of a woman."