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newspapers the next day they called it Ingemar's hogerslag, and they said,
correctly, that it krossade Floyd Patterson. The Swedes were simply saying what
the rest of an aroused, observant world of sports was saying: Ingemar's
right-hand punch smashed Floyd. Indeed, the Swedes might have put it in even
stronger terms. Ingemar's hogerslag on Friday night carried a detonating blast
of such forcefulness that the weather horizons of boxing itself have been
For a generation
the heavyweight championship of the world has been an American monopoly and,
brooding over a situation that appeared irreversible forever, many a Western
European had half made up his mind that America was welcome to it. In Ingemar
Johansson's own Sweden, although Sportsman King Gustav Adolph, 76, rose betimes
to hear the outcome, the Swedish state radio barred ringside accounts from
Yankee Stadium on the official grounds that pugilism appeals only to
"un-gentlemanly instincts." But the Swedish radio was the laughing
stock of Sweden last week. In the Ingo Era the grand old sport of boxing has
taken on a fresh new international gleam.
For a generation,
boxing championships have changed hands in this country in an atmosphere of
diminished public attentiveness and of increased public weariness with the
succession of monopoly-seeking promoters, undercover managers and victimized
"tigers." The new heavyweight champion of the world is no promoter's
pawn, he is his own manager and considerable of his own trainer, and anybody
who aims to victimize him should plan to get up early.
"I know what
I am doing," Ingo kept saying, and it is now clear to everybody that he
did. The possibility that this engaging young Swede knew what he was doing
first became apparent last September when he knocked out Eddie Machen of
California with his hogerslag in Goteborg. All the lessons of a generation
argued that it was a fluke or even a fix. Readers of this magazine will
remember with pleasure, however, that Si's Martin Kane took off overseas for a
close look at Ingo and reported (see clips at right): Ingo is the Man for 1959.
Kane continued: "The chances are that Johansson owns the most devastating
right-hand punch of any heavyweight currently practicing."
It is human and
forgivable to recall now that a great many experts, watching Johansson in
training, concluded that Ingo's right hand was a Scandinavian fairy tale, that
his training was all wrong, and that he was simply another of the
"bums" imported by cautious Cus D'Amato as leather fodder for Floyd.
Jack Dempsey watched Johansson work out and could summon only an
uncommunicative mumble afterward: Dempsey picked Patterson. And the day after
the fight, with a burst of humor mixed with honest anguish, Dempsey remarked:
"I really liked Johansson but my ghostwriter would not let me say so."
And then there was Rocky Marciano, writing for a newspaper syndicate, who
scolded Johansson for bringing his mother, his father, his brother, his sister
and a sprinkling of fianc�es to the training camp. "A fighter needs to be
alone," Rocky said. The day after the fight Rocky raised himself from the
canvas in a gallant gesture: "Now tell me, who had the best training
methods? Ingemar with his Birgit or me with my Charley Goldman and Al Weill?
And both without shaves."
Our own Martin
Kane concluded in the June 22nd issue that: " Patterson can, to be sure, be
hit with a right hand, but anyone who does it must face the consequences. The
chances are that he can and will survive Ingo's best and, in the end, knock
Ingo out." Our man brings the story up to date this week. There is to be a
rematch, and admirers of Floyd Patterson's brilliant style and majestic heart
can look forward to the test of a thesis, certainly true until now, that anyone
who can hit Patterson with a right hand must face the consequences. But for
Let us just say
that Ingo's Swedish massage was the best thing that has happened to boxing's
body politic since the court dismembered the International Boxing Club. It is
the kind of therapy that will restore it to health even while grand juries now
meeting in New York and Los Angeles are exposing still more diseased areas.
Bill Rosensohn, the thoughtlessly derided "boy promoter," for his
remarkable staying powers which sustained him throughout a long promotional
nightmare in which he withstood treatment far rougher than that handed out to
Patterson in the ring.
Ingemar Johansson, the new champ, who had the high good humor and firm sense of
purpose to ignore his playfully irresponsible downgrading by the wisenheimers
of the U.S. press.