MONA LISA'S MUSTACHE
Last week, shortly after he retained his title, Cassius Clay stepped into an elevator of a Houston hotel and was greeted by a gray-haired, distinguished-looking couple.
"What did you think of the referee?" the man asked.
"He was all right," Clay said, "but he held that Terrell up for 15 rounds."
"Mr. Clay, I'd like you to meet my husband, Harry," said Alma Kessler. "He was the referee tonight, and I want you to know he is a metallurgical engineer with 32 patents to his name. He's worth $9 million and he doesn't have to referee for you bums."
Indeed, Kessler should have had the good sense not to try or, barring that, he should have tried harder. Much of the time Kessler resembled a man attempting to cut in on a dance, but the couple disregarded his little taps on the shoulder, and Kessler seemed disinclined to get into an argument with two bums.
Some aspects of the Clay-Terrell fight have been dealt with immoderately in the daily press; others have been almost wholly ignored. Clay's bad-mouthing in the eighth round was distasteful, but no more repugnant than Terrell's dirty fighting and his grotesque claim that Clay thumbed him and rubbed his left eye against a ring rope; certainly Clay's misconduct didn't warrant the irrational denunciations in the press, which can only serve to further inflame the yahoos.
And Kessler and the Texas boxing commission are as blameworthy as the fighters, whose animosity toward each other was well publicized and both of whom have records—Clay for hysteria, Terrell for holding and roughing. Obviously the match called for a strong, active, alert ref. Instead, the commission chose Kessler, who is 65, of modest stature and whose reputation has at time exceeded his works: it was Kessler, you may recall, who bemusedly held Archie Moore back after he had knocked Marciano down in the second round, although the mandatory eight-count had been waived; and Kessler's scoring of the first Moore-Maxim and Patterson-Jackson fights can only be termed weird.
According to Article 24, Section 11 of the boxing rules of Texas, "abusive or profane language" is a foul, just like butting or hitting below the belt. When Clay began his obnoxious tirade Kessler should have threatened to take away points and, if Clay persisted, done so or disqualified him; and he should have treated Terrell's repeated fouls with equal severity. There is no need for anarchy in the ring; commissions and referees should recognize their responsibilities and earn their pay, even if, like Kessler, they can afford to donate it to charity. The same holds for the fighters, particularly Clay, who defaced a resplendent performance; it was as though it were Leonardo himself who painted the mustache on the Mona Lisa.
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
Last week's Wichita State-Drake game was terminated with 11 seconds left, after Drake fans, incensed by the officials' calls, showered the floor with coins. Not only did Wichita win 71-60, but its provident guard, Warren Armstrong, got 13� richer. He stuffed a nickel and eight pennies in his sneaker.