In all my years of reading your magazine I have never been so thoroughly disgusted with any article as I was with Mark Kram's coverage of the Ali-Frazier rematch (Crafty Win for Muhammad, Feb. 4). Boxing fans had waited too long for the fight to be asked to read analogies. We are not interested in tree limbs weighted with Spanish moss. What we want to know is why arms go limp. Is it the pain of blocking too many hooks? Is it the aching that comes from throwing too many punches too soon? We want facts, not French phrases. We want straight, accurate reporting, not existentialist prose concerning such things as having and not having picks and shovels.
Nowhere in the article was there any mention of who did what to whom and when. Not one sentence was to be found about the hooks that had Ali in trouble or about why Frazier's face was puffy in the end. Nor was there anything on the fight strategy. On top of all this, five paragraphs were devoted to a prefight encounter that had been reported throughout the country four days before the fight.
The article read like a short story to be found in The New Yorker rather than a report in a magazine that ostensibly functions as a purveyor of sports news.
JAMES P. LEWANDOWSKI
Until I read Mark Kram I thought the late A. J. Liebling was the best boxing writer. Kram's perception and insight, his analogies and his knowledge of the game, its people and its atmosphere are unsurpassed in boxing writing today. He credits fistic fans with an esthetic interest as well as with a knowledge of history, literature and psychology. At least I hope Kram is writing for the fight fan.
I realize I am challenging Mark Kram's judgment, but compared to numerous other sources and reports, his article conveyed an attitude that was very unfair to Joe Frazier. The fight was close. The boxer was given the decision over the fighter. Or maybe the judges were impressed that this match was really a celebrity ball and Ali was the only one who danced.
Frazier has not cried over the decision, as Ali did after the first fight. And the only person who says, "George who?" is Ali. I woner why. Write about that someday, Mr. Kram.
I always have thought SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was pro-Ali, but this article takes the cake. One statement really caught my attention: "If the fight ever seemed close, it was only because of Frazier's incessant pursuit." At no point in the fight was Ali clearly assured of victory. At the end of the eighth round almost everyone in the Garden knew that Joe Frazier had taken control. Before the start of the ninth round Frazier got up off his stool and did his own version of the Ali Shuffle, then motioned across the ring to Ali as if to say, "Come on, let's slug it out!" Ali sat in his corner. Perhaps he knew that if he was going to get knocked out, it would be right then and there. He started to slug it out with Frazier—for about 15 seconds—then danced away.
You describe Frazier as being frustrated. Well, if you call taking Ali's best shots and then laughing in his face frustrating, then maybe that is what was wrong with Joe. The way I scored it, the fight should have been a draw, but at any rate I am sure that Frazier will not retire and Ali will not beat George Foreman.
As a member of the white working class, I must protest being called Muhammad Ali's "oldest enemy." As a kid I loved Ali for his style, his mouth and his standing up to the Government. I haven't changed my mind just because I am working for a living. I still hang on his words and draw fire and strength from him. Muhammad Ali is the champ—past, present and always.
South Bound Brook, N.J.
NOTRE DAME'S MOMENT
Congratulations to Larry Keith on his fine article (The End of a Week that Never Was, Feb. 4). The Bruins showed that they are the best team as they demolished Notre Dame in Pauley Pavilion.