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A MYSTERY IN PURSUIT OF A LEGEND
Mark Kram
April 13, 1970
Young Marcel Cerdan comes to New York, ready to reveal whether he is anything like the fighter his father was and to revive the memories of a tragic romance that captivated two continents
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April 13, 1970

A Mystery In Pursuit Of A Legend

Young Marcel Cerdan comes to New York, ready to reveal whether he is anything like the fighter his father was and to revive the memories of a tragic romance that captivated two continents

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Weak sunlight comes and goes across the Place de la Concorde in Paris, until there is just the wind and the cold spray of rain. Gomez indicates he does not like the rain and, pointing toward a café down the street, insists that he must have a cognac to chase the chill from his poor body. His stride, resembling Groucho Marx', reminds me of the first time I saw Gomez, the night outside a Frankfurt dressing room, when he finally freed himself from the choking hand of a German cop. He was then, he says now, a vagrant journalist, but alas, he sighs, "I am at the moment more vagrant, mon ami." It is painful, he says, for one descended from Madrid aristocracy, a revelation that confirms my suspicion that he is really from some rathole in Andalusia.

Gomez is a spare man with hollow cheeks and the color of an old newspaper, and the slight bend to his body and his bloodhound eyes suggest that he is a tired, very spent vagrant. Ignore his appearance and the possibility that he may not have a franc in his pocket, he says, but do not forget that he is a part of lout Paris, "the Paris that matters, the inside people." His credentials established, he unveils his candor, the kind he presumes would not fail to impress an American. Even though he is proud to be a French citizen, honesty compels him to say that much is myth in France: the French, pharaohs of gastronomy, are bumblers in the presence of beef; the daily Beaujolais is ulcerous swill and the principal reason for their bilious disposition, and....

"Fine," I say, "but what about the boy?"

"Yes, my friend," he says, "but first another cognac."

"Do you know much about him?"

"Junior? Who knows much about Junior? Of the father, yes. Of Junior, no one knows. He is a ghost. Have you talked with him?"

"No, the manager has been difficult. He doesn't seem to want anyone near the boy."

"He is Corsican," says Gomez.

"So?"

"That is enough. He is Corsican."

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