THE MAINE BOUT
Except that Boston District Attorney Garrett H. Byrne was making it much too uncomfortable and uncertain for the promoters, the reasons for the shift of the Clay-Liston heavyweight championship bout from Boston to improbable Lewiston, Me. are hard to come by. Though his reputation is of the highest, one cannot accept Byrne's professed reason as the only one—that he had belatedly discovered irregularities in the promotional setup. Such irregularities are the norm in big fights and have been winked at as much in Boston as anywhere. Other reasons, all speculative, have been suggested:
? Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, disturbed that no clear proof exists that Sonny Liston has been relieved of his old mobster control, protested to the then governor, Endicott Peabody, after Peabody approved the fight. Peabody, though a Democrat and a friend of the Kennedys, did not withdraw his approval but was defeated for reelection last fall. District Attorney Byrne is a Democrat and Senator Kennedy is a most influential Democrat. The Kennedys backed Byrne when he ran for office 13 years ago.
?Many Bostonians were fearful that, since Champion Cassius ( Muhammad Ali) Clay is a Black Muslim, followers of the assassinated Malcolm X, a defected Muslim, might revenge themselves on Clay during the fight—with bombs or bullets. Jerry Nason, Boston Globe sports editor, took out extra insurance on the lives of five Globe men who would be at ringside.
?Byrne had access to reports of chicanery in Miami Beach before the first fight, which ended with Liston surrendering his priceless championship sitting on his stool. (Except for Clay's earlier decision to quit because of something in his eyes, which was overruled by his corner, it had been a fascinating bout up to then.) At hearings of the Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust and Monopoly it was disclosed that Ash Resnick, a notorious gambler barred from many Florida racetracks, was in Liston's dressing room before the bout and watched it from a vantage point near Liston's corner. There were also reports of special interest in the match in Youngstown, Ohio, a gambling center and second home for many a hoodlum.
Now that Lew Alcindor, the 7-foot 1-inch New York City basketball player, has announced that he will go to UCLA in the fall, it might be nice if segments of the sporting press and of the nation's coaches apologized to Alcindor's high school coach, Jack Donahue. For two years columnists and coaches refused to believe Donahue when he said he would not attempt to influence Alcindor's decision on where he would play college basketball, and would not make a package deal of himself and Alcindor for some properly appreciative school. When Donahue was appointed coach at Holy Cross last month the cynics were sure they were right, that Alcindor was just going through the motions of visiting other campuses and would follow his coach.
Well, congratulations to UCLA and to Holy Cross. One has acquired the best player prospect in basketball history; the other, an honest man.
RALLY IN TENNIS
In a move that has brought it, at long last, into the 20th century, the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association has appointed Robert S. Malaga, Cleveland lawyer, as its Assistant to the President. It was Malaga who brought the Davis Cup matches to Cleveland, where they achieved new financial success. This year Malaga and his volunteer organization are on their way to making the Wight-man Cup—women's tennis, no less—a success.