PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE
You gave Cassius Clay something of a chance to win and he capitalized on it. I suppose 99% of the nation's boxing experts told us Clay wouldn't survive the national anthem. Those of us who have followed Clay felt he would whip Liston as far back as his fight with Lavorante. But do you think the sportswriters are willing to eat crow? They are not. Some even had the effrontery to suggest that the fight was a setup. Many belittled Liston for retiring in his corner. What can boxing do to win? If Liston had pulverized Clay in one, they would have yelled, "What did I tell you?" If Liston had continued with an injured arm and suffered a serious or fatal injury, these same writers would have asked for an end to the brutal sport. Clay fought a smart, courageous fight—the only kind he could have fought if he was to survive the early rounds. So what do they write? On the strength of one fight, they call Liston washed up. Overrated. Not one has speculated what Liston might do in a return. Liston is still one heck of a fighter, and he's not that slow. Clay is just exceptionally fast.
I find it difficult to get disturbed about Clay's embracing the Black Muslims. That is his personal prerogative, and I don't know a good priest or minister who would deny it. Yet the sportswriters actually made Sonny a sentimental favorite after learning of Clay's conversion. Sort of reminds me of the style of the late ring announcer Harry Balogh: "And may the man with the more acceptable ideology emerge victorious."
FATHER LEWIS P. BOHLER JR.
Congratulations on your sympathetic view of Cassius Clay—even before the fight. Since the fight, all the Clay haters have come to realize what Cassius was telling them all along: that his pose was just that and nothing more. The real Cassius is not the prefight Cassius.
Most of the sportswriting fraternity who hypnotized themselves by their own verbiage into firmly believing Liston to be invincible, have had their inflated egos punctured by "smasheous" Cassius.
Is it the mark of a champion or even the mark of a good sport to kick a guy when he's down merely because one's pride is hurt?
Tex Maule's article on the Clay-Liston fight was highly analytical and bore the mark of a real professional. Most of the so-called experts who had built up Liston as a superman are now trying to get off the hook by questioning the validity of the fight. Their original judgment could be condoned. But their playing the role of diehards is difficult for this reader to appreciate.
EARL B. COYLE
"No money was to be gained by fixing a Liston loss." How naive can a magazine be?
What is the dollar difference between one fight and three fights?
WILLIAM H. CROKE
Jackson Heights, N.Y.
In my opinion, Clay will prove to be as colorful a champion as Dempsey or Louis. As far as Liston is concerned, my thoughts on his future are that it will greatly parallel the career of Dempsey. If Liston's age is really well past 30 years, or past the age when an athlete generally finds his leg condition sending him downhill despite punching power, a young and clever boxer such as Clay will make it almost impossible for the former champion to regain the title.
My greatest regret is that I did not have the foresight to take advantage of the odds that prevailed for this championship battle.
L. J. (SPIKE) MORIARTY