SI Vault
Edited by Craig Neff and Robert Sullivan
February 17, 1986
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February 17, 1986


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The sport of boxing has taken a beating recently. Late last year, two United States Boxing Association titleholders, cruiserweight Stanley Ross and bantamweight Freddie Jackson, were forced to relinquish their crowns when both tested positive for marijuana following their championship bouts. Last week, tests showed that World Boxing Association heavyweight champ Tim Witherspoon had also smoked marijuana sometime before his Jan. 17 win over Tony Tubbs, though as of Monday it wasn't certain whether Witherspoon would be stripped of his title.

All this came on the heels of a December report by the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation recommending a ban on boxing. The report cited promotional greed, matchmaking barbarism, connections between fighters and mobsters and the "legal savagery" of boxing that causes in fighters a virtual "certainty of brain and/or vision damage." The commission was the third major organization in a year, following the American Medical Association and the New York State Medical Society, to call for the abolition of boxing.

Lost in all this bad news was an encouraging announcement last week by the USA Amateur Boxing Federation. The USA/ABF is joining with the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in a $1 million, four-year study of the risks of amateur boxing and says it will institute whatever reforms are needed. "We plan to determine whether damage to the central nervous system occurs and whether it is temporary or permanent," said Dr. Walter Stewart of Hopkins.

"A number of critics have stated that amateur boxers often sustain irreversible and serious injuries, particularly to the brain," said Dr. Robert O. Voy, chief medical officer of the U.S. Olympic Committee. "No data exists to support or refute these claims.... I am impressed that the sport is so bold as to investigate itself and abide by the results."

President Reagan has been lobbying loud and long about the need to close tax loopholes. And no wonder. They've even spread to the world of Walter Mitty baseball. Take the Chicago White Sox Baseball Fantasy Camp and Investment Seminar, which is being held this week in Sarasota, Fla. For a mere $3,200 each, the fat-cat campers are learning base-stealing from Luis Aparicio, the knuckleball from Hoyt Wilhelm and financial strategies from specialists at Rodman & Renshaw, a Chicago investment firm. The camp's publicity, referring to these pregame business seminars, gleefully points out that "the possible tax deduction on this portion of the week-long event is a practical motive inducing campers to sign up." Do they serve hot dogs and three martinis at lunch?

You didn't know that Gretzky was traded? It happened last week. Keith Gretzky, younger brother of Wayne and a Buffalo Sabres draft choice, was sent from the Windsor Spitfires to the Belleville Bulls. Both teams are in the Ontario Hockey League.

Call it a sign of the times, but a number of colleges whose athletic programs have been beset by scandal—among them Tulane and Wichita State—have recently hired enforcement representatives away from the NCAA to work for them on a full-time basis. One of the new employees' primary jobs is to sift through the complex 380-page NCAA manual and explain it to school athletic officials in plain English.

Ever since Russell Pulling, the Colorado School of Mines' 6'5" freshman forward, scored 59 points in a 121-113 win over Colorado College on Jan. 29, losing coach Jim Cross has been trying to live down the embarrassment. Last week he told the Denver Post how his team will prepare for next season's rematch: "Under our warmups we'll have T shirts printed up that say RUSSELL WASN'T MY MAN. Either that or we'll line up with flip cards. The first will say RUSSELL WASN'T MY MAN, the next will say ME NEITHER and so on until the end of the line, when the next-to-last guy has an arrow pointing to 5'5" Ricky Garcia."


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