THE SAME OLD STORY
Boxing, that poor battered sport, can't keep its nose clean. When Don King began his vigorous promotions, notably his U.S. Boxing Championships, the feeling in some circles was that the sport was in a refreshing revival. But several critics, such as John Schulian of the Chicago Daily News and Gary Deeb of the Chicago Tribune, disagreed. They said it was as seedy as ever. They ripped King and The Ring magazine, which supplied the rankings from which tournament pairings were made, alleging that the rankings were arbitrary, that at least one fighter's record was falsified and that fighters not under control of the King organization had difficulty getting fights and winning decisions.
Deeb also jabbed ABC-TV, which has been televising the U.S. Boxing Championships, for unquestioningly supporting King's promotion with television money and implied that the $1.5 million ABC had put up in prize money was being inequitably distributed. Roone Arledge of ABC vigorously defended his network's position and listed the steps it had taken to assure that the fights it telecast were on the up-and-up.
But Dave Brady of The Washington Post wrote that the FBI had made inquiries about the boxing show King staged at the U.S. Naval Academy in February, at which heavyweight Scott LeDoux went almost berserk on camera after losing a decision (you may recall his contretemps with Howard Cosell). LeDoux said that King's employees controlled fighters in the tournament and that officials were biased in their favor.
Then last week from Houston came word that featherweight Kenny Weldon said he had given a substantial part of the $7,500 he had earned fighting on the card King staged in an Ohio prison a few weeks ago to intermediary George Kanter (page 46), who had arranged that bout for Weldon. When ABC heard about this, it called for an immediate investigation. Kanter, whom Weldon described as a decent man, said the whole thing was a misunderstanding. "I'm not going to dirty my hands," Kanter told Vic Ziegel of the New York Post, before flying off to Europe. "I'm returning every penny to the fighter."
Nonetheless, criticism of King's operation mounted, although it continued to be looked upon with tolerance by many. Earlier, the Chicago Daily News had quoted Paddy Flood, one of those close to King, as saying, "Let me tell you about boxing. It's the most treacherous, dirtiest, vicious, cheatingest game in the world.... That's the nature of the business. It's a terrible business."
Plus �a change, plus c'est la m�me chose.
HIGH PRICE OF LIABILITY
Six of the 13 companies that manufactured football helmets have stopped making them, and the seven still in business are facing lawsuits of more than $100 million for "product liability." The suits allege that injuries suffered by certain football players, most of them at the high school level, occurred because of inadequacies in the helmets. Similar suits have been filed over injuries in other sports, such as hockey.
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association says that placing blanket blame for such injuries on "shoddy products" is not justified. It also points out that sales of football helmets to organized teams, from Pee Wee Leagues to professionals, amount to perhaps $15 million per year, and notes, with an eye on the $100 million in pending suits, that total profits to all manufacturers from those sales is less than $1 million.