The most ruggedly
handsome face to arrive in the United States last week was the one surmounting
the tab collar at right. It belongs to Ingemar Johansson, the dashing European
heavyweight champion and the incontrovertible No. 1 challenger to Floyd
Patterson's title, an eminence Johansson achieved by knocking out Eddie Machen
in one round at Gothenburg, Sweden last September.
journey from Sweden to New York was kept an elaborate secret from the press,
and his movements on arrival were also carefully cloaked. Actually, he was
hustled up to a rural retreat in the lower Hudson Valley. There he spent last
weekend closeted with Cus D'Amato, Patterson's manager, a man with a fine old
habit of keeping his own counsel and a fine old flair for Renaissance-type
Also at the
weekend gathering were Edwin Ahlquist, Johansson's adviser who, in the spirit
of the script, arrived in New York on a different flight from Johansson's, and
Einar Thulin, a New York correspondent for a Swedish newspaper who is D'Amato's
confidant and aide in Swedish relations.
The purpose of
their meeting was to hold "preliminary talks" for a Patterson-Johansson
fight somewhere in the U.S. this spring—a fight which could easily gross a
million, even two million dollars, a fight which promises to rouse the
heavyweight division from its moribund condition.
Johansson is an
ideal rouser. He is handsome to a fare-thee-well and certainly the most
attractive imported prizefighter since Georges Carpentier. He whizzes about the
Swedish countryside in a racy sports car, plays passable golf, flies and has a
quiet enthusiasm for modern poetry. All this, too, sounds a little like
Carpentier (The Orchid Man was his tag in the Golden Twenties). But Ingemar, a
full-fledged heavyweight, can hit harder than Georges ever could.