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SCHOOL OF HARD KNOX
Thomas H. Lineaweaver
September 14, 1959
The Knox brothers, Seymour and Norty, are polo, squash and tennis champions who owe much of their success to the unflagging zeal of a sportsman father
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September 14, 1959

School Of Hard Knox

The Knox brothers, Seymour and Norty, are polo, squash and tennis champions who owe much of their success to the unflagging zeal of a sportsman father

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Seymour won his first cup at the age of 3 for horsemanship. By the time he and Norty had finished at the Aiken Preparatory School and moved on to St. Paul's at Concord, N.H. they had accumulated something like 30 athletic "trophies between them, including one for bicycle polo. "That," says Seymour, "is really a game."

At St. Paul's, with Seymour on the mound, the boys were an intramural baseball battery, and Norty made captain of the school team.

Both of them captained the squash team, and Norty won the school championship three years running, something no one had managed to do before. He also earned a spot on the hockey team as goalie.

The Knox vacations and school holidays were spent playing golf or squash (Papa Knox had built a court in Buffalo in 1937), on horseback or on the Aiken court tennis court. But at the start of his Sixth Form year, it looked as if Seymour's athletic career had come to a painful and premature end. He snapped his right leg playing football. In Boston the late Dr. M. N. Smith-Petersen, the bone man who later worked on Arthur Godfrey's hip, reconstructed the leg with steel plate.

Seymour hobbled around St. Paul's on crutches for months, then switched to a brace, made the squash team again and went on to pitch, play first and captain his club baseball team.

At Yale between 1946-50, Norty starred in squash and won two Y's in hockey. Seymour picked up his pair of Y's on the undefeated championship squash teams of 1948-49, and also made the swimming team. Between 1950 and 1952 Seymour, having resolved on finance as a career, worked for the Marine Midland Trust Company and then moved on to Dominick & Dominick. In the same years his name went up in gold letters on three plaques at the Racquet and Tennis Club—club squash champion, winner of the racquets first-class handicap tournament and court tennis second-class handicap tournament. The first thing Norty did when he graduated in 1950 was to marry Lucetta Crisp of Long Island and Aiken, a consummate horsewoman. The second thing he did was to decide on farming as a career.

In the summer of 1953 the Knox brothers burst out of the club and collegiate sports circles and onto the national scene. With Trainer Lewis Smith and Bob Wickser of Buffalo, they formed the Aurora polo team. The Aurora four rode down Pittsfield at the Blind Brook Polo Club in Purchase, N.Y. and became national 20-goal polo champions. There, too, Seymour met red-haired Jean Read, and their engagement was announced the following January.

Marriage had no more effect than business in slowing down Knox sporting campaigns. In the course of two family trips to Cabo Blanco, Peru, Norty caught a 730-pound black marlin and a 400-pound big-eyed tuna (the latter was then a world record for 39 thread); Lucetta caught a 720-pound black marlin (still a women's world record in the 80-pound test class); Jean caught a 336-pound big-eyed tuna (also a standing women's all-tackle world record); but the only world record fish Seymour managed to catch was a 26-pound big-eyed tuna on 15 thread line, and he has yet to take a black marlin. "Seymour," Jean claims, "simply repels black marlin."

During 1952, Norty had begun to study court tennis seriously under the demanding and remarkable Etchebaster. With Pierre, Norty polished the difficult cutting stroke of court tennis which makes the heavy, flannel-covered ball skid rather than bounce. He mastered a multiplicity of intricate angle shots and curves.

In 1953 Norty went to the finals of the national court tennis amateur championship and lost to the defending champion, Alastair B. Martin of New York, but in 1957 and 1958 he passed Martin and became amateur champion. He has held the amateur doubles championship for four years, twice with A. B., twice with brother Seymour. In 1958, Pierre, Norty, A. B. Martin, Papa Knox and William L. (Sammy) Van Alen of Philadelphia invaded Europe. Norty captured the English amateur championship from Lord Aberdare on Lord's Court in London, took the English doubles with Martin and helped the United States team win the Bathurst Cup, court tennis' Davis Cup.

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