Thank you for a knockout article on one of the best fighters pound for pound, Sugar Ray Leonard (Sugar Sure Is Sweet, Nov. 26). Since he is seemingly unbeatable, I am curious as to the identity of the boxers who beat him during his 145-5 amateur career.
•In 1972, when he was only 16, Leonard lost twice, first to Jerome Artis of Philadelphia in the quarterfinals of the national AAU championships and then to Greg Whaley of Cincinnati in the semifinals of the Eastern Olympic Trials. Whaley, however, took such a beating from Leonard that he wasn't allowed to continue in the Trials and never fought again. In 1973 Randy Shields, a 17-year-old Hollywood, Calif. high school student, upset Leonard for the AAU 139-pound title, and in 1974 Leonard again lost twice, both times in Europe. In Moscow, after Sugar Ray was decisioned by two-time Soviet champion Anatoli Kamnev, Kamnev walked across the ring and presented the winner's trophy to Leonard. And in Poland, the decision went to Kazimier Szczerba despite the fact that Leonard dominated the first two rounds and knocked Szczerba down three times in the third.—ED.
I thoroughly enjoyed William Nack's article on Sugar Ray. It is always nice to see a fighter of such great potential succeed. Many talented boxers have had their careers ruined by poor management. Leonard's progression is all the more refreshing because of the fine way he has been handled.
New York City
The plaudits accorded Sugar Ray Leonard are certainly well deserved considering his accomplishments. But we in Michigan will reserve judgment until he does battle with Detroit's "Welter Warrior," Thomas Hearns.
In regard to Paul Zimmerman's article The Name of the Game Is Now Armball (Nov. 19), there seems to be a lot of negative reaction to the new NFL rules that have allowed an increase in passing and scoring. Why? Pro football is safer and more exciting because of those rules. I would rather see a 55-22 game with a lot of passing than watch a 7-3 game beaten out on the ground. Besides, with teams like New England running up more than 25 points in a quarter, even a seemingly lopsided game can be up in the air until the final gun.
Tom Landry summed it up best: "Football should be innovative. Changes should come only through evolution. But when you try to change the nature of the game through the rules, you're defeating it."
Teams that have thrived on excellent defense are being hurt tremendously. As Landry also says, it's all but impossible to shut off receivers like Lynn Swann, Tony Hill or John Stallworth without touching them—but the new rules allow a defender to bump a receiver only once within five yards of the line of scrimmage. The rule changes have turned plays like the bomb, which used to be rare and exciting, into dull and commonplace occurrences. As I see it, a long pass nowadays is usually good for a first down whether it is caught or not, because a lot of deep plays draw a pass-interference or illegal-chuck penalty, good for a first down and often more. This results in cheap yardage and undermines the efforts of the defense. When games are being won on penalties instead of good football, it's time to quit changing the rules.
Many thanks for the tremendous article on American Indian runners (Running to Nowhere, Nov. 26). Being part Acoma Indian, I have often grieved over the fate of my people. While many Indians closer to the big cities do come out of their "shells" and are among our country's leading citizens, it is unfortunate that the talents of so many other first Americans are wasted because they continue to live according to their old customs.
Santa Fe, N. Mex.
While remembering that America's only gold medal in an Olympic 10,000-meter race was won by Billy Mills, we should not forget that our only other medal at the distance was also won by an Indian. Louis Tewanima, a Hopi from Arizona, placed second in 1912.
Track & Field News
Los Altos, Calif.
In beating Baylor 29-20 on Nov. 10, Arkansas may have had the most varied scoring quarter in the history of college football. Behind 17-9 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Razorbacks then got 20 points by each of the five possible scoring methods: two touchdowns (one scored by the defense), a two-point conversion, a PAT, a field goal and a safety. This must have set a record.
JAMES R. SKILLERN
Address editorial mail to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Time & Life Building, Rockefeller Center, New York, New York, 10020.