The near-fatal head and brain injuries suffered by Gerald McClellan in his Feb. 25 super middleweight bout with Nigel Benn, as well as his mounting hospital bills, point, in lurid fashion, to the need for a boxers' union. A union, at the very least, would have provided McClellan, who will probably need around-the-clock medical care for the rest of his life, with health and disability insurance he now lacks.
The tired argument that boxing provides economic opportunities for the disadvantaged is weak—an asbestos factory provides jobs too, but as in boxing the risks are unacceptable—and it rarely leads to lucrative employment opportunities outside the ring. Besides George Foreman, how many boxers have you seen endorsing products lately? And the even more tired argument that boxers know exactly what they're getting into is ridiculous. They are, by the violent and exploitative nature of their sport, more, not less, in need of long-term protection than other professional athletes, most of whom already have health and disability benefits.
In December the AFL-CIO announced plans to form a boxing union. Overdue? It was overdue when Jack Dempsey, in a letter to The New York Times, called for a union. That was in 1937.
Man Beats Horse
The idea of a man racing a horse conjures up, to many Americans, the painful memory of Olympic champion Jesse Owens reduced to embarrassing exhibitions late in his sprinting career. But in Wales the annual William Hill Man Versus Horse Marathon is a joyous spectacle that draws hundreds of dedicated racers, both two-legged and equine. This year's 16th running of the event, held recently on a course near Llanwyrtyd Wells, produced, for the first time, human winners. A team of four "fell-runners" (who specialize in running over mountains) defeated 19 other human relay teams, as well as eight horses, all of whom were entered individually. "We thought we had a chance of beating the horses," said 30-year-old Mark Croasdale, who captained the winning team. "We even contemplated putting a bet on ourselves, but in the end we didn't."
How did man beat horse when the best racehorses run a mile in half the time of the best human runners? Well, this 22-mile course traversed various kinds of terrain—stony logging tracks through forests, streams, steep hillsides and asphalt roads. There were many spots on the course where the horses had to slow down while the smaller human runners kept going. Croasdale's team made a detailed study of the course and used each runner according to his strengths en route to the winning time of 1:53:38, about 3½ minutes in front of the lead nag.
Then, too, the horses, although mounted, probably didn't realize they were in a race. To prevent dangerous bunching, Man Versus Horse is run against the clock. Racers start at one-minute intervals with the first of the four-legged runners taking off 15 minutes after the last human.
Still, the victory was impressive, and the Croasdale team was deservedly, as they put it, "chuffed to bits." And if there was any shame on the part of the four-legged racers, they did their best to hide it.
Kato Kaelin recently asked the Baltimore Orioles if he could throw out the ceremonial first pitch at a game. Strike one! Unbowed, he then requested a press credential that would allow him to rub elbows with the players on the field before a game. Strike two! There is no truth to the rumor, however, that K Dude also asked if he might crash in the Oriole clubhouse for a few weeks. That would've been strike three.
Fingers Gone to Seed