Half a hat off to William Johnson for his gentle drubbing of the World Boxing Association (The Riddle of the Jolly Do-gooders, Oct. 9). Mr. Johnson has all the facts. He knows why Joe Frazier was dropped from No. 2 to No. 8, although all experts agree he should be No. 1 or No. 2. He knows that the top boxing states, California, New York and Massachusetts, won't touch the WBA with an eight-ounce glove. Mr. Johnson is also fully aware that the inner dealings of the WBA are marked with pettiness to say the very least. And yet, with all this ammunition to load his gloves, Mr. Johnson never puts his combination together. It never appears to be a dirty picture to him, just sort of silly.
But the WBA is a dirty picture. Cassius Clay was kicked out twice, and Frazier was dropped because he wouldn't make ABC's ( WBA's) kind of financial deal for fighting. Fortunately, the WBA cannot completely destroy boxing. Frazier will be the man to beat when the ABC championship is over, and the WBA won't be able to do a thing about it.
Perhaps if SPORTS ILLUSTRATED took a few real shots at the WBA, it would start trying to straighten itself out. In the meantime, WBA President M. R. Evans won't lose any sleep over Mr. Johnson's gentle rap.
DAVID B. SACHSMAN
Mountain View, Calif.
PAID IN FULL
Mark Kram states that Oscar Bonavena's victory over Karl Mildenberger "will provide this Silas Marner of boxing with...much more money than he is worth." He also tells us that Bonavena's favorite words are, "Gimme money" (A Bean-can Bout in Frankfurt, Sept. 25). What does Kram want? More nice-guy Joe Louises being hounded by the IRS? Or more bewildered Hurricane Jacksons shining shoes?
Doesn't Kram know the name of the game? It's not glory, titles and fame. Doesn't he know the only defensible end of this barbarous, sordid, parasitical business? It's not meant to be scrambled brains and a hand-to-mouth existence from 35 on. The only excuse for boxing is money. The more, the better.
Some fighters don't know that. A few like "boorish" Bonavena, and "frugal" Firpo before him, do. So they risk their lives to make it big and grab for every cent in sight. More power to them. For once the worm turns. For once the fighter really wins.
S. A. LINING
Your article should wake up the American public to the fact that Ohio is the breeding ground for most of the Standardbreds (Putting the Flimflam on the Slickers from the City, Oct. 2). It is also well worth noting that Best of All is really the best of all, and it is not just a coincidence that he was raised in Ohio. It was great to see an Ohio horse come back to glory on his home ground—and Jim Hackett was right when he said the Little Brown Jug is the national prestige race for the pacers. This was a sensitive story by Pete Axthelm and a joy to see in SI.
JOHN P. O'NEILL
You did a whale of a job covering a "Whale of a Weekend" (Oct. 9). But I most enjoyed Frank Deford's article, The Sonic Boom in Seattle. The people of Seattle are going to see what a great game basketball is. I wish Mr. Deford had told us more about the players and had given the starting lineup, but he did show the warmth that a city can have for its team.
I'm disappointed that SI cheapened an otherwise sound article on the new Seattle SuperSonics professional basketball team by indulging in corny, patronizing jibes at the city of Seattle. Any city with a metropolitan population of 1� million is certain to have attained assets and complexities that render such superficial generalities downright stupid.
I don't think Seattle needs my defense. Nor would a long list of its cultural, scientific and educational contributions serve any real purpose here. I am not embarrassed for Seattle; I am embarrassed for you.