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May 29, 1967
AFTER THE BELL
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May 29, 1967

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AFTER THE BELL

Last week at Madison Square Garden Dick Tiger retained his light-heavyweight title by defeating Jose Torres in a fight that was as good as it was close. It should have been a proud moment in boxing, which needs all of those it can get. But it was loused up. A bottle was thrown from the balcony and shattered in the ring. More bottles, beer cans, parts of seats followed. At least 11 spectators were treated for lacerations.

Two of New York's three newspapers called it a riot, which sells papers. If only one bottle, instead of two dozen, had been thrown it would have been an intolerable violation of public safety, but that doesn't make it a riot. However, more preposterous things were written. The New York Post said in an editorial that the "riot" was "incited by the bestial and bloody spectacle that boxing is. Fight crowds are notoriously ugly in temper because fights are ugly.... The way to prevent riots is to ban boxing...."

As a matter of fact, the fight was nearly bloodless, fight crowds are traditionally among the most mannerly in sport—you can more readily find ugliness at high school basketball games—and by the Post's beautiful logic, you have to conclude that, say, the way to prevent crime in the subways is to shut them down.

The assumption is that some Puerto Ricans threw the bottles because they didn't like the decision. This would make more sense if the bottles had come right after the decision was announced, which they didn't. In fact, a photographer stationed in the balcony says the first bottles were thrown at Torres. If so, there goes the modish theory of the man from the Times that what happened was an act of social protest by the have-nots against the haves. There is more reason to believe the bottles were thrown for no reason, but out of wantonness, something which nowadays is not endemic to New York or to boxing shows. In this case, the way you stop it is by impressing upon these people that you don't throw bottles and get away with it—which is well beyond the incompetent Garden specials. Of course, nobody was arrested.

As Harry Markson, the Garden's director of boxing, said, rather ruefully, "Obviously times have changed, and so have people, their temperament and attitudes. The methods used successfully in the past are no longer effective. Perhaps it's time to explore new techniques and safeguards." As we have previously stated (SI, Feb. 6), if the Garden specials can't handle a few drunks and bad actors—and this was the third such incident in the past two years—city cops who can should be brought in. Present regulations ostensibly prohibit their use; if this is the case, the laws should be reexamined. Boxing has too many virtues to have its fate decided by boozed-up characters, editorial writers and overweight specials.

FINISH LINE
There is no official world record for the women's mile run, because until recent years nice women didn't run the mile. Men thought it didn't suit them. We don't have to tell you that these days women are paying less and less attention to what men think is good for them. For example, just last week Miss Anne Smith, a 25-year-old London schoolteacher, ran the mile in 4:39.2, for an unofficial world's record. She was greeted at the finish by Margaret Barker, one of her eighth-grade pupils. " Miss Smith," Margaret said, "why did you give me only 'good' in conduct this week?" Well, in a sense, it served Miss Smith right.

BUT NOT BEDFELLOWS

The closest thing yet to open tennis will take place in Cincinnati July 3-9, when the city's first professional tournament is held at the same time as, and on adjoining courts with, the venerable Tri-State, the oldest continuous tournament on the circuit. Now in its 68th year, the Tri-State has been won by Francis X. Shields, Bobby Riggs and Tony Trabert, but, because its dates usually conflict with Wimbledon, the old Tri-State ain't what it used to be. Before the jet age, it could still get name players, but now just about all the names take off for London. Indeed, if it weren't for the pros, the Tri-State might have gone out of business this year.

The tournament sponsors point out that the new format should not be considered an "initial salvo" for open tennis. On the other hand, they also point out that the combined tournaments "can be easily made into an open tennis tournament should open tennis become a reality." In the meantime, the amateurs and professionals will be housed separately. And equally, we trust.

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