SI Vault
August 12, 1963
POWER OF THE PENSirs:Your derogatory article on Sonny Liston (Sonny Slams Ahead, July 29) represents a flagrant effort on your part to destroy a man's character by the power of the pen.
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August 12, 1963

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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Your derogatory article on Sonny Liston (Sonny Slams Ahead, July 29) represents a flagrant effort on your part to destroy a man's character by the power of the pen.

Your fabled knight-errant, St. Floyd, whom you sent into battle, sword in hand, astride a white charger, has failed to slay the Dragon, and now you have set yourself up to conduct a personal vendetta. All the things you say about Liston may be true, but must a heavyweight champion adhere to all the niceties of Emily Post to be accepted as a champion? I think not. And you had better agree, because Liston is here to stay for a long time.
Waltham, Mass.

It is getting a little nauseating to read all the bunk sportswriters are putting out these days about Sonny Liston ruining boxing. Liston has been true to his profession. He has fought all the contenders on his way to the championship, and as long as Liston obeys the law the most important thing is the way he conducts himself in the ring. Good guys are a dime a dozen, but talent is rare.
Lynchburg, Va.

Robert H. Boyle's candid psychoanalysis of Sonny Liston was revealing and, at points, entertaining, but I am afraid he is suffering a delusion if he feels that God can save boxing. The "sport" of boxing passed the salvation stage years ago, long before the current gladiator was crowned king. As far back as I can remember the god of boxing has been the almighty dollar. It has always been run and supported by greedy men who set themselves up as little gods and then go on to become greedier and bigger gods.

Writer Boyle implies in his article that Liston is bad for boxing because he, too, is money-preoccupied and void of warm and human feelings. It has been rumored that a relatively well-known and likable fighter by the name of Joe Louis made over $4 million during his reign as heavyweight champion, and yet it is also well known that Joe is now broke and in debt for the remainder of his life to the U.S. Government. I and others are therefore prompted to ask: What happened to all that money? Can any of us say that the era of Louis was better for boxing than the era of Liston is or will be? Wasn't the million-dollar gate the preoccupation of the promoters during the Louis era? Is it not still the main preoccupation today when Liston is king?

The salvation of boxing as a sport is not in the hands of God. It is in the hands of mortal men who are willing to put hearts and minds ahead of the god of legal tender.
New York City

Just when I was prepared to accept your assessment of Sonny Liston as a rude, overbearing, insufferable human being, I came upon a paragraph midway through the story that brought me up short. A man who would refuse to shake hands with Toots Shor can't be all bad. There is hope for redemption yet.
New York City

As a longtime devotee of the so-called minor sport of archery I was more than delighted to see your August 5 cover and story featuring our now ex-world champion, Nancy Vonderheide (She Started at the Top). However, you have succeeded only in whetting my appetite for a sequel. Surely we deserve a picture, at least, of our new world champion, Victoria (Sam) Cook, who defeated Nancy in Helsinki.
New York City

?See above.—ED.

I've taken a gander at many a poultry gag in my day, but Bobby Bragan's fowl ball about "Chicken Catcher Torre" (SCORECARD, July 15) wins the pulletser prize. No doubt he had just finished eating improperly plucked waterfowl, and was feeling down in the mouth. Your publicity will perhaps serve to egg him on, so in the future we may expect comments about "swimming upstream to Spahn," "Boiling on the green," and even (shudder) "Aaron go Bragan."
Evanston, Ill.

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