SI Vault
January 14, 1974
O.J. & CO. Sirs: O.J. Simpson is finally receiving some of the credit he deserves (Vintage Juice 1864...and 2003, Dec. 24), but what about the rest of the Buffalo Bills?
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January 14, 1974

19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

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I got a real bang out of reading about the heavyweight boxing champions. However, I was most interested in the so-called experts' opinions on the 10 greatest alltime heavyweights. I note that all said "experts" were white. Funny thing about that, the real experts in the ring, like the guy in there throwing the leather, almost always wind up being black. That's why the black man has held the heavyweight championship all but four years and eight months since June 22, 1937. And the black man could have taken the same championships long ago, before the turn of the century, if the likes of John L. Sullivan and Jim Corbett had not been afraid of the likes of Black Peter Jackson. Let's face it, baby; I have researched that subject more years than I care to admit. And one thing I discovered long ago: a good black man can beat a good white man any day in the week and twice on Sundays.

Truly great heavyweights come along about once in a decade. Taking each and every one of the 25 men who have held the heavyweight championship from Sept. 7, 1892 to date, you can count the best on your two hands, or less. And now for the shocker: nary a one of them was white. A great champion takes his opponents as he comes to them, as Joe Louis did. He does not handpick the washouts, the setups and the nobodies, as all of the white heavyweights who have passed themselves off as champion have done.

The 15 white men who have been called heavyweight champion since 1892 held the title about 40 years combined. They defended the title a mere 46 times, by carefully avoiding the black man, or any fighter who could give a good account of himself. The 10 black men who have held the same title close to 40 years defended it 71 times, and for the most part against all comers. They gave white hope after white hope a shot at taking it back, but the white hopes could not and still cannot cop the crown. To paint the picture even brighter (in this case blacker), in heavyweight championship matches between blacks and whites, of the 57 chances, whitey has won seven while blackie has taken the other 50. Of the seven limes the white has beaten the black man, six times the black man was already old and over the hill. The exception occurred in 1959 when Ingemar Johansson chilled Floyd Patterson. But Patterson came back to retake the title a year later and became the first and only man to hold the title twice.

However, in all fairness, I cannot be proud of George Foreman for not defending his title more. A black champ is supposed to be a fighting champ, in my book, and Foreman is not living up to the black champ's fighting image.

Had I read your article about professional boxing in a copy of Mad, I would have commented on what a great job they had done satirizing man's extreme cruelty and ignorance. However, since I found the article in SI, I can only suspect that you are glamorizing what you seem to believe is a sport. When two men get into a ring simply to knock each other's brains out, it is not sport.
Fairfax, Calif.

You've done it! You've really done it! The Power and the Glory by Ernest Havemann was one of your incomparable articles. What took so long?

There is just one thing that Mr. Havemann left out. There is an old saying that "as heavyweight boxing goes, so goes boxing." This could be changed by bringing other illustrious fighters to the public's attention. There are many. You could do something about that. What do you say?
Hornell, N.Y.

I surely enjoyed Liege Lord of the Latin Hopes (Dec. 24) by Frank Deford. Howie Haak and I worked for Brooklyn and Pittsburgh for more than 10 years.

As Mr. Deford pointed out, Howie has one of the great retentive minds, which is a must when it comes to scouting. Every boy of ability a scout sees will reflect some other player who has met with success in professional baseball. This triggers the scout's mind and makes him aware that he has a prospect in the boy. The degree of the prospect is then figured by comparing his physical tools to those of the player of reference. The ability to put this all together and project how far it will carry the boy makes a scout. Howie Haak is one of the top men in baseball. I owe what success I have had to him and to Mr. Branch Rickey Sr., the man who set up the system.

The scouts are the backbone of every baseball organization. It is nice to see one of the forgotten men recognized.
Western Director of Scouting
Kansas City Royals
Santa Ana, Calif.

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