SI Vault
September 18, 1961
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September 18, 1961


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"I have often thought," wrote Nellie Bly, a lightweight journalist of the 1890s, "that the sparring instinct is inborn in everything—except women and flowers." Nellie, of course, was right; boxing is fundamentally for guys, not dolls. Her observations, along with hundreds of others, show up in The Fireside Book of Boxing (408 pages, $7.95), to be published by Simon and Schuster on October 9. This is a man's book, carefully and thoughtfully edited by W. C. Heinz; it includes such stalwarts of literature as Nelson Algren, Ernest Hemingway, Jack London, James T. Farrell, Damon Runyon, John Lardner, A. J. Liebling, Dan Parker and Red Smith.

Heinz has included much of the poetry of boxing, such as the anonymous The Kid's Last Fight, an old barroom favorite, and Joseph Moncure March's narrative The Setup, which describes a boxer's dressing room: "A dirty bulb swung by a cable/ Over a battered rubbing table./ The crude glare/ Fell on bare/ Gleaming flesh, and underwear./ Open trousers bagged,/ Sagged./ Shirttails flopped;/ Belts dragged./ Backs bent down;/ Flushed faces/ Scowled over shoelaces. / Shoes thumped./ Knees rose;/ Fingers clawed at sweaty hose/ With holes in their toes." In fact, all the good boxing lines are here, including Dan Parker's classic question on how Charley Massera managed to get himself knocked out by Tony Galento in 1938: "Did he fall or was he pushed?"

It's a cinch that boxing these days isn't what it used to be; some argue that it never was. The Fireside Book of Boxing is a reminder that whatever fighting was or wasn't, it once was interesting.


Our football department has examined Mr. Harry Wismer's handicapping prowess and found it wanting. Wismer, the impatient owner of the New York Titans in the American Football League, proclaimed that his team could beat the New York Giants of the National Football League. Not so, says our football department, whirring its circular slide rules and feeding data into hungry computers. Here is what would happen:

The Giants would beat the Titans by 40 points or more, depending on how fast the Giant backs could run from one end of the field to the other.

As of now, the worst NFL team (the football department goes on) would beat the best AFL team by at least 18 points.

The best college team of 1962 would be favored over the worst AFL team.

Nothing personal, Harry, but facts are facts and dreams are dreams. It takes time to build up football teams.


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