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MARCHING TO PRETORIA
Bob Arum has been telling people that the World Boxing Association heavyweight championship he is promoting in South Africa Oct. 20 will deal a severe blow to that country's apartheid policies. The fight between black American John Tate and white South African Gerrie Coetzee will be held in Pretoria's Loftus Versveld Stadium, an 88,000-seat facility normally used for rugby. Few nonwhites attend rugby matches there, but those who do are required to use separate restrooms and to sit in a segregated section. The South African government has agreed to suspend racial distinctions for the fight, and Arum has predicted that the event will practically wipe out apartheid in South African sport all by itself.
The Reverend Jesse Jackson, the American black leader, disagrees. During a recent 17-day visit to South Africa, Jackson credited international sports boycotts against South Africa with having helped create "psychological and emotional cracks" in apartheid. Dismissing the integration of Loftus Versveld Stadium for the Tate-Coetzee fight as a propaganda gimmick designed to project an image of racial harmony, Jackson vowed on his return to the U.S. to try to force cancellation of the fight.
To spare Tate from being pressured by Jackson and his supporters, Arum whisked the fighter to South Africa two weeks ago and set him up in a training camp—a ranch-style house in a Johannesburg suburb with a boxing ring built on a tennis court. But when Sport Minister Punt Janson told reporters last week that South Africa had no plans to end apartheid in sports, Arum erupted. He declared that he had been duped by the South African government and that " Jesse Jackson is right and I was wrong." He added, "We disassociate ourselves completely from this racist government policy. To hell with this——sports policy." But Arum said the fight would go on, and after a hastily arranged meeting with Janson, he said that he had been misquoted and that he had now been assured that Loftus Versveld Stadium would be permanently integrated. The Northern Transvaal Rugby Union thereupon voted to implement just such a change, subject to final approval by the Pretoria City Council, which exercises control over the stadium.
But what of Arum's expectation that apartheid in sports would disappear generally? After his meeting with the American promoter, Janson said that the government supported "open admission" for spectators and "equal opportunities for all athletes." But he also said that the government recognizes "the autonomy" of sports organizations and stadium owners in deciding racial policies. He seemed to be suggesting that the same government that could suspend all restrictions for the fight was utterly powerless to do much beyond that.
There the situation rests. If Loftus Versveld Stadium is permanently integrated as a result of the fight, Arum will be able to claim at least one breakthrough. But that alone would not conclusively refute Jackson's argument that sports boycotts of South Africa are a valuable tool for combating apartheid.
THE GREAT KEWPIE DOLL CAPER
It has been a long time coming, but someone may have finally beaten a carnival-midway operator at his own game. The clever fellow is Detective Sergeant Don Patterson, who was assigned to keep things honest at the recent Frontier Days festivities in Cheyenne, Colo. Patterson heard reports of tricky doings at the ring-toss and bottle games, so he assigned another detective and his wife to pose as hayseeds. After watching the action for a time, Patterson moved in.
Sure enough, says Patterson, "In the ring-toss game, the rings were too small for the pegs." In the bottle game, he says, "Two of the three bottles were weighted with lead, making them virtually impossible to knock over with a thrown ball." Patterson climbed inside the bottle-game booth, and, standing practically on top of the bottles, threw balls at them. He still couldn't knock them over. And here comes the clincher: "You try it," he told the carny crew. They couldn't do it, either. Five people were charged with obtaining money under false pretenses. All pleaded guilty and each was fined $100 plus $10 court costs.