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A lot of legends have grown out of a Harlem summertime institution once known as the Rucker Tournament but now called the Harlem Professional Basketball League. This summer, with the season only half gone, a new hero has joined such stars as Helicopter, The Destroyer and Pee Wee in the playground pantheon. He is Charlie (Mosquito) Criss, a pesky, 5'8" shooter who averages 30 points a game for a team called the Courtsmen.
Recently the Courtsmen beat the Sports Foundation paced by Larry (Fly Swatter) McNeil, 6'9�" center-forward of the Kansas City-Omaha Kings, 163-124. Though McNeil is leading the league in scoring and blocked shots, in this game he was held to 30 points, five below his average, while Mosquito, being guarded most of the way by Henry Bibby of the Knicks, scored 37.
Ordinarily Criss plays for the Hartford (Conn.) Capitols, champions of the Eastern Basketball Association. During that league's playoffs this year he averaged 33 points a game. His reputation has attracted inquiries from the Seattle SuperSonics and the Virginia Squires but no invitations to try out have followed. So his heroics are reserved for the hometown crowds, who know a giant when they see one.
The abuse suffered by prizefight judges, though it sometimes takes reprehensible forms, is also sometimes deserved. As when American Light Middleweight Reggie Jones was robbed in his first Olympic bout in Munich's Boxhalle, or when Albuquerque's Bob Foster, world light heavyweight champion, got a hometown decision that saved him his title two months ago.
To purge boxing of the intimidation of crowds, the overtones of politics, even the capriciousness of human nature, an outfit called Electronic Sports Engineering, Inc. developed a computerized scoring system in 1971, named it Soctron, and gave it a tryout at last year's Golden Gloves tournament in Cleveland. The system not only operated smoothly, say the promoters, but saved three minutes per bout as well (for what, they don't say). Now World Team Boxing (SCORECARD, Aug. 5) is considering Soctron for its weekly matches, should that league get off the ground in February as planned.
Amid a lot of talk by Soctron people about "the integrity of first impressions," one learns that three scorers, each sitting in a soundproof booth, record each punch as it is thrown by squeezing the appropriate fighter's color-coded lever—one point for a punch landed, two for a clean, hard blow, five for a knockdown. The judges' impulses are transmitted to a memory bank, also at ringside, and a scoreboard in full view over the ring keeps a running tally on the fight—a tally of points, not rounds. The scorers cannot hear the bell ending a round, nor can they hear the crowd's reactions.
Then, at the final bell the winning score shines irrefutably overhead, eliminating the usual wait for fighters and fans and also the opportunity for last-minute considerations of crowd and country to give rise to second thoughts in the judges.
The next step is to eliminate the judges altogether. Just wire the fighters for impact, like pinball machines. Same point system, same scoreboard, but TILT for a knockout.