West Berlin is a special city, quite as individual in its own way as Paris. Like New York with its Brooklynese and London with its cockney, Berlin has its own rapid give-and-take language (it's really more than a dialect), its own earthy humor and its own enthusiasms.
The city's biggest enthusiasm at the moment is a prizefighter, a 28-year-old middleweight named Gustav Scholz, who would be called Gus in New York but whom no Berliner ever would call anything but Bubi.
It is a pet name as well as a nickname, and it indicates fully the feeling Berliners have for Scholz and why they have it. Bubi is hard to translate into English, but this may give you an idea of what it means: if a German mother had an especially attractive young son she would call him Bubi. All Berliners feel that way about Bubi Scholz.
He is almost six feet tall, slender, with black hair and brows, and he has a straight, unboxerlike nose. To Berliners he has the face of a movie star. Indeed, he hobnobs with movie stars. A well-spoken young man, he is polite and always poised or, as one Berlin sportswriter put it, he can talk to his neighbor and he can talk to the Oberb�rgermeister.
The rest of Germany follows Bubi's career with as much avidity as Berlin, though not with the Berliners' special warmth of ownership.
So up and down the length of West Germany for the past few weeks people were talking about and waiting for Bubi's second fight with France's Charles Humez, the fourth-ranked middleweight contender, to whom Bubi had lost a decision after being knocked down twice. Newspapers appraised his chances, not too optimistically, and reviewed his career.
The career began with Bubi hanging around a Berlin gym for months, hoping that he'd be picked for a fight, though he had never fought before, even as an amateur. Then an opponent scheduled to face Werner Eichler, an experienced welterweight, fell ill. A frantic promoter rushed Bubi to the fight, held under a circus tent, and Bubi, though he showed neither experience nor skill, made good. He displayed the now famous Scholz guts and ability to recover from disaster. He was knocked down three times in four rounds, but he won.
That launched him. In time he acquired shrewd and wealthy Fritz Gretzschel, a businessman, as his manager. Together they plotted an assault on the world championship. By 1954 he was ready for Madison Square Garden where, as the first German to appear as a Garden main eventer in his first U.S. fight, he won a decision over Al Andrews.
The future was bright but Bubi fell ill of tuberculosis and retired to a Black Forest sanitorium. He fought not at all in 1956 and was told by a doctor, in fact, that he must never box or even train again.
But Bubi did begin training, in the spring of 1957, and won the German middleweight title from Peter Muller. Berlin made him its darling again, thrilled as much by his victory over TB as by his record.