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It is an unfortunate fact of our imperfect world that man's best acts often stem from the worst reasons. Last week, in the wake of the generally misunderstood Clay-Liston fight, Senator Philip Hart of Michigan reintroduced a boxing bill authored by the late Senator Estes Kefauver and proclaimed that "this bill represents boxing's last chance."
We think Senator Hart is overstating the importance of his bill, whatever its merit. Boxing is attractive to large numbers of people around the globe, and it will likely persist, with or without further law. Even in the U.S.S.R., where officials have tried to sterilize the sport out of existence with an overdose of regulations, boxing thrives. Whether Senator Hart's bill passes or not, the sport will continue. U.S. promoters would, if necessary, stage bouts in outer space.
Is the Hart-Kefauver bill best for boxing? In essence, the measure requires federal licensing of fighters, managers and promoters and provides for a federal commissioner who is empowered to establish rules, to suspend or revoke licenses, to survey contracts and to call in the FBI when the smell gets bad. It seems judicially sound, and there is no doubt that, like the federal gambling law of a few years back, it would drive some crooks from the scene. The bill also could bring order out of the chaos of state regulative bodies.
Boxing has always been a sport for individualists, and there is the possibility that a strong commissioner would make faceless nonentities of its more colorful people—and that would be a loss. But the public is discontent. Monopolistic practices—particularly the return-bout clauses that have stifled competition—are undesirable, and so perhaps the time has come for some national control.
The crux of the matter, it seems to us, will be the choice of the czar. It would be best if he were elected by the sport itself, but in any event he should be strong, have a knowledge of boxing and law, be beholden to nobody in boxing or politics and withal have a sympathy for the loners, the oddballs and dedicated nonconformists who, like them or not, are the stuff of which boxing is made. We do not know a man who fits our description of the czar—he may not exist—but if you find him, Senator Hart, we will be all for you.
When they have nothing to do, gorillas in a zoo become irritable and start bashing one another. The way to keep peace among the great apes is to entertain them, and that is not easy. Toss a basketball into a gorilla cage, and they will bat it around for a while, then chew it up. An automobile tire survives far better, but after a few days of biting into a tire and pummeling it, gorillas usually lose interest. After trying a variety of diversions, New York's Bronx Zoo has come up with a solution. In foul weather, when its four older gorillas cannot be outdoors watching people, the zoo lets them watch television.
After trying TV for the past five months, the zoo has found that cartoons and rough-house westerns are preferred by gorillas, but even these action-packed programs are not surefire pacifiers. For example, Pilipili, a restless adolescent male of eight years, often sits for a half hour, head in hands, raptly watching TV, but the old jungle blood is still in him. In the middle of a good program, for no apparent reason, Pilipili sometimes gets up, stalks over to the female sharing his cage and belts her one. Then he shuffles back and settles again before the big, magic eye.
AGAINST ALL ODDS